Viva la difference- welcome to the wonderfully diverse world of gaming communities!
The world of gaming is now so mainstream and ubiquitous that you can literally find anybody in those metaverses. Nowhere else do people from so many different backgrounds come together to play, create communities, share and of course compete.
We gamers come in every shape and form, we come from every corner of the world, and play for a myriad of different reasons – it may an individual passion for problem-solving and world creating as we see in Minecraft, for others it might be competitive play and the sheer visceral thrill of battle-royale mayhem. What unifies us all is our love of gaming . The rapid growth of the gaming industry has put the world’s biggest entertainment pastime at the heart of many online communities. For example, on YouTube there are more than 40 million active gaming channels with people watching over 100 billion hours of gaming content. In terms of esports, it is predicted that the global audience will reach 577 million by the end of 2024- that is almost double the population of the United States!
One of the main reasons why gaming has become so popular is that accessing video games has never been as convenient as today. Gamers from all over the world can download video or mobile games in an easy and comfortable way. Another important factor is that there is a pool of games that are either free or freemium, so customers can try before they buy and access plenty of games without even having to pay. As the gamer community continues to grow exponentially it is crucial that content represents the diversity of the audience. During the E3 industry event in 2020, it was announced that the number of female protagonists has risen to 20%, while it only increased 9% in 2019. There is a significant way to go here and moreover, we need to see less traditional female in-game archetypes, often hyper-sexualised and presenting unrealistic female images, but we believe this will change as more women are inspired to create the content, rather than development teams being the sole reserve of men.
As new ideals and values gather a stronger voice in the gaming industry, new members continue to join the community as they start feeling heard and represented. The progress that has been made in character diversity when it comes to video games is a positive by-product of different members of the community raising their voice.
OK, so let’s look at the audience data – first off the Gen Zs. Research shows that over a third of Gen-Z play video games at least five days a week, and within the UK 32% of gamers watch game streams- going over 58% within Generation Z.
There were over 2.69 billion people that played video games in 2020, within those numbers, there were people from all demographics- even grandparents are playing video games now. In fact, within the first quarter of 2021, 8.8 billion hours of video game live streams were watched across the world. From that pool of people, 44% of them prefer to watch gameplay rather than play the game itself.
An important reason why the gaming community has expanded so much over the last year, is that it allows people to stay connected with friends and family from all over the world, as well as meeting new people without leaving home. This is particularly true to the middle-aged population within the industry, as they look for new ways to interact with their family members. Adults within the 55-64 age group were the demographic that was the fastest-growing by 32% from 2018 to 2020.
It’s gained me enormous kudos with my grandsons, and it’s nice to think that all these highly rated players are being taken out by a grandpa in his dressing gown.John Reed, 74 (Source: The Guardian)
It is positive to report that from all the UK creative industries, the games industry is above average in terms of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation and LGBTQ+ representation. Suddenly the sheer act of playing allows gamers to interact (either by watching or playing) with characters that represent their ideals and or show similar physical traits. Video games have shown that when the physical world fails to let people voice their opinions, the virtual world can be a sanctuary where gender, sexuality, or race can be respected, allowing people to quite literally be whoever they want to be, uninhibited by time, space or stigma.
Back in 1999 at E3 Electronic Arts announced “The Sims”- a game that many people did not believe would succeed. However, when Patrick J. Barrett III, the new game programmer, joined EA he was tasked with coding interactions that would be shown during E3. When Barrett, a gay man, started coding love-relationships he was not aware that same-sex relations were not planned to be part of the game, so he thought it would be okay to show two lesbians kissing as part of the story line. So when the big day came, his programming showed the first same-sex kiss in video-games, placing EA and The Sims as the most progressive in the industry in terms of LGBTQ+ diversity and very much ahead of their time.
Irrefutably however, there is still a lot of progress to be made – and we have a long way still to go.In the UK, only 10% of the games industry workforce are black, Asian and minority ethnic, whilst only 11.5% of game developers identified as female. We need to see more wonderful initiatives such as that created in2015, where Jay-Ann Lopez founded Black Girl Gamers, which is a community which runs events for inclusivity in gaming and promotes streamers from different backgrounds through their Twitch channel.
Last May, Twitch announced the launch of over 350 new tags related to gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, ability, mental health (some examples of the tags are transgender, Black, disabled, veteran, and Vtuber). This new feature allows content creators and viewers to categorize their videos so it is easier to find relatable content. That move from the streaming platform represents an important step in the right direction as Twitch gets 26.5 million daily active users.
Rainbow Arcade is one of the Twitch channels that can benefit from the new tags to attract new audiences. This channel is a collective of LGBTQ+ streamers and video-makers that have as a goal to spread community safety, empowerment and positivity. Another rising streamer is Loeya, a female gamer in Fortnite, she loves sharing her tactics so more people can improve their skills in the game.
However, as diversity progresses in the industry, it is important to remind ourselves that looks can be deceiving, and we are probably more diverse than what we show. So, it is important to celebrate and encourage every person that is interested in or has a talent for video games.
That’s why nano and micro influencers are so important, they show diversity in one of the purest ways, they are in touch with and relatable to their audience, often representing groups that might be ignored by bigger influencers. As such they are a powerful mechanism for brands to deepen their understanding of audiences and create marketing which is much more tailored and resonant with their customers. We ourselves at Edge believe passionately about diversity and the power of inclusive teams and culture both for gaming and indeed beyond – so we are here to help brands harness that powerful treasure trove of real time data to connect real-time with your communities. Estimated data might mislead you from understanding what the community members want from your brand. That is why we gather real-time, meaningful data from the source to make sure every user is heard by you.
In Edge, we understand innately that different influencers have different audiences, so we use real-time data to analyse campaigns. So they are targeted to the right audience and understand the audiences and how they’re reacting to influencers and their content. There is no point in activating a campaign, if it feels like an intrusion. Our technology helps you add value to these incredibly diverse communities in sectors such as gaming, through data that allows you to make real-time optimisations. All in one edgy place.
Curious and want to know more? Check out the website, and book a demo. See for yourself.