Given the circumstances, gaming was an escape from the restrictions of the global pandemic.
But what happened after Covid? Are we still gaming every day to escape boredom, or have we entirely abandoned it?
This is what the post-pandemic gaming industry looks like.
How Many People Play Video Games?
Gaming is a hobby enjoyed by people from all walks of life. It’s a rewarding experience that boosts serotonin and helps people temporarily escape stressful situations in real life.
Based on data taken from Statista, roughly 3.2 billion people enjoyed playing games in 2021. At the same time, Statista’s survey shows that there were approximately 1.48 billion gamers across Asia, making it the largest gaming market worldwide. Europe took second place, with a gaming audience of roughly 715 million in 2021.
Another Statista survey conducted in 2022 showcases that men account for 52% of gamers in the US. As 48% of US gamers are women, the gender ratio in the gaming community doesn’t differ significantly.
Regardless of gender, the age range of 18 to 34 is where the majority of gamers fall. Additionally, GameQuitters report that between 48% and 56% of young adults play video games regularly.
Why Do People Play Games?
The gaming world is so much more than an alternate reality for people to hide from the real, ugly world. Video and mobile games offer players many benefits, allowing them to elevate their skills and change perceptions while having fun.
Of course, not all games are fun, especially when players face defeat. Still, 9 out of 10 US gamers agree that gaming brings joy and provides mental stimulation, respectively. For 87% of participants in the same study, gaming is excellent stress relief.
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In 2020, 65% of people said they played together, which jumped to 77% in 2021, and now it’s at an incredible 83%. Games have become a great way to convene with people socially and to connect with family and friends as well as the global community.
That said, socialization during gaming is of utmost importance to gamers. More importantly, games that allow people to interact with each other can lower the risk of depression and anxiety.
Are People Addicted to Gaming?
Video game addiction or internet gaming disorder is distinguished by poor control over gaming habits. When gaming becomes an addiction, it can negatively impact various aspects of one’s life, including mental and physical health.
As playing games triggers the release of dopamine, it’s easy to understand how quickly gaming can become an addiction. Still, when someone is already in a poor mental state, playing games with the hopes of escaping reality can be catastrophic and should be treated as any other mental condition.
The worldwide prevalence of gaming disorder was 3.05% until 2020; this figure was adjusted to 1.96% when considering only studies that met more stringent sampling criteria.
Matthew Wr Stevens, Diana Dorstyn, Paul H Delfabbro, and Daniel L King wrote in their research: “Global Prevalence of Gaming Disorder-A systematic review and meta-analysis”.
According to GameQuitters, 8.5% of children aged 8-18 might suffer from gaming disorder. So, it’s safe to conclude that gaming addiction is more likely to happen to a younger person than an adult.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines gaming disorder as a behavioral pattern characterized by lack of control over gaming that often leads to the escalation of gaming and neglect of other interests and areas of life.
For it to be diagnosed, a client must exhibit a behavior pattern severe enough to significantly affect personal, familial, social, educational, occupational, or other key areas of functioning. Additionally, these behavioral disturbances that affect one’s life must have been present for at least a year for them to be diagnosed with gaming disorder.
Luckily, severe gaming addiction is extremely rare. However, just because it occurs rarely, doesn’t mean the problem should be neglected. Although fun and beneficial, excessive gaming can be dangerous, and its consequences shouldn’t be taken lightly.
How Many Hours a Day do People Play?
The global pandemic and numerous lockdowns increased the average time users play video games. Still, the early post-pandemic period also saw an increase in gaming hours.
According to a Statista survey conducted in January 2021, respondents from the US said their average longest consecutive gaming session lasted roughly 5.9 hours. Similarly, the global average for binge gaming sessions was 5.1 hours in 2021.
Overall total consumer spending on video games by the US audience summed up to $60.4 billion in 2021. Americans invested the most money in gaming content ($51.7 billion), followed by hardware ($6.1 billion) and gaming accessories ($2.7 billion).
Considering data from the previous year, when Americans invested $56.1 billion in gaming, it’s safe to conclude that 2021 was a prosperous year for the gaming industry. Additionally, these consumer spending habits show that the hype around gaming is still intense, even during the post-pandemic period.
Post-Pandemic Gaming Trends
As the pandemic progressed and more people joined the gaming community, many new trends emerged. Some are related to gaming styles, while others aim to resolve critical issues in the gaming community, including lack of inclusion and diversity.
Here’s what we believe are the most significant post-pandemic gaming trends:
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- Diversity and inclusion
For a long time, virtual reality headsets were too expensive for an average gaming enthusiast. Not only that, but the technology itself wasn’t promising. However, that all changed in 2019 when Facebook released Oculus Quest VR. This technology immediately took off and began going mainstream.
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In today’s world, VR headsets have never been more affordable for the average gamer. Of course, this is one of the main reasons virtual reality is one of the top 2022 gaming trends.
Additionally, metaverses are taking up more space in the media, motivating thousands of people to join virtual reality. Some metaverses have thousands of active daily users, and the numbers are unlikely to drop in the future.
Augmented reality is an interactive experience that combines the features of the real world and computer-generated content. One of the best examples of augmented reality is Pokémon GO, a game that motivated several generations to go on quests and search for their favorite Pokémons.
During the pandemic, augmented reality became an excellent tool for developers looking for new ways to drive engagement. As a result, users can now merge their favorite universes with our reality and enjoy a unique gaming experience.
So, for example, people can merge Harry Potter or Jurassic Park Universes with the real world. Luckily, this trend prevails long after the lockdown season, and we expect to see more improvements in this field soon.
Diversity and Inclusion
As stated earlier, women play games nearly as much as men. However, it was a common myth until recently that women and girls aren’t prevalent in the gaming community. Well, during the pandemic and the rise of game streamers, this myth was officially busted. Not only do women and girls play games, but they’re also breathtakingly good at it.
Photo illustration: Freepik
Additionally, the gaming industry wasn’t always kind to its audience. The lack of diverse representation in games affected women and minorities alike, but it’s good to see that many developers have started to put these groups in the spotlight.
Unfortunately, inclusion and diversity weren’t welcomed by all community members. But, as this trend continues to grow post-pandemic, we’ll likely witness acceptance from more gamers.
With the rise of streaming platforms and people’s urge to entertain themselves during the lockdown, a new gaming trend, known as game streaming, was born. Of course, game streams were popular long before the pandemic, but this period in modern history largely contributed to its admiration.
Twitch is the most popular game streaming platform that allows gaming enthusiasts to stream their games or watch other players. Other favorable platforms are YouTube Gaming Live, Facebook Gaming, Azubu, and HitBox.
Still, Twitch will likely remain the most popular platform for game streaming. In the second quarter of 2022, a total of 5.65 billion hours were watched on this platform, and it’s doubtful that another platform could manage to beat this record.
There you have it – this is what the post-pandemic gaming industry looks like. People still enjoy gaming, and new trends have come to stay. Based on the data I’ve gathered, it appears that gamers and the gaming industry can benefit from these emerging trends.
But what do you think about it? Do people play games too much or too often? Tell us in the comments below.