The digital gaming industry is more lucrative and progressive than often considered, with rapid technological innovations and evolving user demographics. The changing landscape of the industry has reduced barriers to entry, allowing small garage-based startup companies to compete with big media corporations who once had a stronghold. Generational play, adult marketing and public, no-shame gaming are transforming the gamer demographic from the stereotypical 14-year-old multi-user PC gamer, to nontraditional demographics.
The high concentration of entertainment software developers and publishers in Texas is unmatched by any U.S. cities situated beyond the West Coast. Mobile gaming and internet applications, such as Facebook, force rapid innovation as developers struggle to compete in a 99-cent market. In addition to growth in the console niche, simulation programs are widely used for government and medical training, cultural immersion instruction and other educational programs. The gaming industry is projected to outpace growth of other entertainment sectors in the next few years.
Rodney Gibbs, studio director of Fizz Factor, a game development company in Austin, spoke last Wednesday at Wildfire in Georgetown about the evolution of this industry. Starting his career in television writing and production, Gibbs eventually founded Fizz Factor, which has rapidly grown from four to nearly 50 employees. He oversees business development, production and design for all company projects. A Texas native, he completed his Bachelor of Arts at Rice University and Master of Fine Arts at the University of Texas.
The industry’s economic growth, in addition to potential impact on educational strategies, has sparked significant government interest. Gibbs spoke at Senate Committee hearings regarding the use of incentivizing games in public education, where a senator in his 60s admitted to enjoying Wii Boxing with his wife.
Local city governments are catching on as well, releasing interactive internet games which allow citizens a taste of complexity city management. Players are able to manipulate funding distribution, simulating realistic consequences such as increases in juvenile delinquency and inadequate fire department preparedness.
Games for Change, a movement focused on the use of digital games for social change, hosted Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as keynote speaker in New York during their annual June conference. Though she did not receive her first computer until her 40s, O’Connor recently created an interactive educational gaming tool which promotes civil education. Rather than book publication or television interviews, this former Supreme Court justice chose to create an interactive gaming tool.
Our own Governor Rick Perry delivered a keynote address in Los Angeles at the E3 Media and Business Summit, reinforcing support for the industry, which in the past has received large monetary grants from state legislation.
As digital games continue to secure a position in the future of education, as well as our mobile phones, technology continues to creep into the future. Have you got game?