What is the impact for corporate sector initiatives when the games market valuation numbers soar to record heights?

UKIE, the UK interactive entertainment association published figures today to show that the consumer game market valuation has grown to over £7 billion in 2020, that is a Billion increase since 2018 and nearly a 30% increase since 2019. As an industry the gaming market has been growing and outgrowing other entertainment sector for a number of years.

Lockdown has had an impact with a higher percentage of people especially in the older age categories also taking to games as a way to escape reality and find entertainment. More people either bought game consoles or upgraded their existing devices in 2020 and took up a digital download or subscription of a game.

What does this mean for the corporate sector?

First of all it means that investors are actively looking at the gaming sector and that a lot of money is flowing and will remain flowing in this industry which traditionally may have gone to other entertainment related sectors such as movies, publishing etc.

When consumer appetite rises for a given technology, it also invariably raises the interest of how this can be utilised in the corporate sector. Gamification officially became a term when the gaming industry was on the rise in the early 2000s. Today most companies have at least heard of gamification or have been exposed to some kind of gamified application without maybe recognising this as a derivative of games.

My trends analysis at the beginning of the year already stated that gamification had become mainstream and I am convinced that growing numbers of people playing games across the age spectrum will see this trend continue. In the early days, gamification was often perceived as a superficial way to create a carrot and stick style motivation method helped with game mechanics. Quality providers and more game designers joining the gamification field have thankfully made the shift to truly immersive experiences with proper storylines and much more interesting twists in game play possible.

Game technology is making it possible to create great experiences on most budgets although it is also recommendable to look up what it costs to make a triple A rated game before you set out to make the next blockbuster game lookalike for your company. You may need to revise what is realistic and keep it goal or outcome oriented.

My expectation is that game based application for the workplace or gamified processes will continue to see a prevalence. Poor superficial ones will be replaced by more immersive and really motivational tools. As a corporate buyer it will be important to understand the difference and also how this will appeal to your audience. Most games do extensive research on their target audience and keep a close check on analytics to make sure updates are hitting the right note.

Collaborative game-play as a top revenue driver

I have been going on about collaborative game-play for a number of years and one of our award winning boardgames was a collaborative game where all the players around the table defend the company against cyber attacks. Animal Crossing New Horizons, the Nintendo game was one of the most popular bundles during the lockdown. Typically most families only buy one console for the house, hence they will play and create their ideal island together. Each player can contribute and evolve the island. If you have more than one console you can also connect islands and this is where remote play and connection between friends comes in.

Sounds a bit familiar to how things work in a corporate environment yet? Well I see that this is where we can find a lot of cross-over from the game world to the corporate world. Often in a game environment you are tasked with building things or destroying them, depending on the kind of game, yet everyone is doing it from their device remotely for the greater good of the team or for the greater good of the environment.

One of my favourite explanations of games and I think it was Jane McGonigal who coined it, is that they are the voluntary participation in overcoming obstacles and problems. For me that is how I see the corporate sector should look at their employees, they voluntarily come together to work on overcoming real world problems and obstacles. In all good systems there are rewards, whether it is status, honour, privileges or like in the corporate sector most likely a pay and benefits package. To me the similarities outweigh the differences from a systems design perspective.

For the corporate sector collaborative game solutions have a clear place even in very competitive environments. Most systems don’t work well if everyone is in it for themselves. Having common goals and objectives and a game like representation on how we achieve them as a team and as an individual contributor is amazingly powerful.

Creator focus

Many of the releases on the market, especially those aimed at younger generations have a creator focus. As a creator you are encouraged to create your game assets with the tools inside the game or even create your own altogether. We see this in Minecraft, Roblox, Animal Crossing, Mario studio, etc. The generation that is growing up with these options will often look at a set of tools that they are given and work on a way of deploying them to create a new way of working.

As a skill creativity is something a lot of companies wish for and when it comes to reality they also stifle the creators inside a strict set of rules or the ultimate creativity killer ‘This is how we have always done it’. For a generation that is growing up with a larger range of creative freedom, this will be perceived as demotivational and oppresive. Also note that not all players opt for the creative route. Some will simply stick with the rules of the game and play it the way it was intended.

With more and more games having a creative focus, my expectation is that this will be a nurtured skill. When we see education using the same game tools for let’s say online experiments due to lockdown or simply lack of budget to create a physics experiment in the classroom, children learn that this an acceptable way of working.

In the corporate sector, you have some companies starting to think about ‘create your own job’ approaches and morphing the job to suit the skills and interests you have as long as it has a justifiable place in the company vision and ambition. Most corporates have not yet explored this and that is why we see a proliferation of people opting out of the corporate sector and going for the gig economy so they can fit their skills into jobs they want to do and to have the freedom of choice of when and how to do the job.

Remote and multi-player, duh!

I feel a bit like this is stating the obvious, but a lot of multi-player online games have from their outset been people in remote locations working together online. For years I was told this wasn’t the same when you worked for a company, well look at us now! We have been a remote first company from the beginning in 2012 and it was frowned upon, in the last 12 months is has become forced practice for a lot of the working world.

It doesn’t suit every sector and not every individual, yet it is possible to achieve for many sectors and lockdowns have proven that. Very practically, people have had to learn to communicate in different ways often more regularly and in a more structured way. The more subtle non-verbal clues you had when you saw people, you now have to look for and make an effort for. Not every manager is good at this and some have had to adapt quite significantly.

When the lockdowns first started I could see a lot of my multi-player friends relishing the thought that they could now spend a bit more time in their game which normally went to their daily commute or other preparations for work. It is also the same group that has been quite outspoken about managers simply not getting how they can achieve the same things online.

Communication in both a structured and informal way is the norm in multi-player games. In the end of the day everyone wants to win and winning together creates that extra bond. Knowing that your task matters and can impact the whole rest of the team is important. Then as soon as the peak is over having team chats, debriefs and general social chit chat is also the norm.

Games matter

In conclusion, I will say that games matter more and more as a way of relaxing and as a way of finding an outlet for creative skills we all have. The corporate sector will have experienced some of the benefits the gaming industry has seen for years through online games and my expectation is that there is much more to enter the world of work. My best advice is start learning about games, start playing them and then look at ways on how they apply to your company. If that is all you did to start with, it will give you insights you may want to implement. when you get to that point we are happy to assist.

For now, I will leave you with the staggering figures from UKIE and all the respective research institutes:

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