by Contributing Author
Online gaming has quickly morphed from a fringe hobby that attracted a limited fanbase to a multi-billion-dollar global industry that has changed the way society engages with story-telling, entertainment, and sport.
Everywhere you look, there is evidence of gaming’s significant influence. A decade ago, it was lucrative for filmmakers to offer gaming offshoots from beloved movie franchises. Now it is the other way around, with Hollywood queuing up for the rights to produce cinema spin-offs from popular video games.
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If you haven’t been watching carefully, this meteoric rise will have come out of nowhere, but like all cultural changes, the roots of online gaming’s popularity can be traced back to a few standout factors.
These include the sheer variety of games you have to choose from – including fantasy, wargames, role-playing games, and sandbox games – the strides that game design studios have taken with the quality of graphics, the fact that many people have an emotional attachment to certain gaming franchises, and the spectacular success of eSports.
This is what you need to know about online gaming and why it is increasingly popular:
There is a huge variety to choose from
One of the most obvious reasons why online gaming has become so popular is because of the dizzying array of games available to play.
You have wargames that allow you to build your creations.
Within these different genres and franchises, you will find countless spin-off titles, legions of fans, bustling online communities, and even merchandise available.
Games are hyper-realistic
Another reason why online gaming has become so popular is that technology has allowed game designers to create increasingly realistic experiences for players.
The impressive strides that graphics cards and processing power on PC and consoles have meant that it really does feel as if you’re right in the center of an immersive experience rather than playing a novelty game.
Take a driving simulator, for example. These games are specially developed to mimic the driving dynamics of real cars in real weather conditions on real tracks, giving the average gamer the chance to experience some of the world’s most exciting driving experiences without leaving their couch.
To illustrate the attention to detail that game developers go through, many studios actually hire real supercars and test them rigorously to capture how they look and how they sound and feel to drive in all conditions.
It is difficult not to be impressed by the realism, which is why gaming has become a true rival for cinema as the world’s leading immersive entertainment experience.
They are influential in popular culture
It appears that everywhere you look these days, there is a reference to gaming, whether it is popular streaming stars who have amassed vast audiences who watch them play games every day or the amount of online gaming advertising you now see in everyday life.
However, the most striking example of online gaming’s rise from beloved hobby to global stardom is the sheer number of Hollywood film adaptations of popular games that have been made (or are in the process of being made) over the past few years.
Everything from the long-awaited Uncharted adaptation, which has attracted A-list stars Mark Wahlberg, Tom Holland, and Antonio Banderas, to the Assassin’s Creed adaptation starring Michael Fassbender, the box office is now full of game franchises.
This demonstrates the power that online games now command in popular culture. Rather than wait for the crumbs that fall off of Hollywood’s table, it is film directors who are now on the lookout for the next big game adaptation.
Esports is huge
Last but certainly not least, the popularity of online gaming can partially be explained by the incredible success of eSports.
Many once viewed what was a gimmick – gamers competing against each other professionally – has become a hugely popular global sports franchise.
Not only do gamers compete for prize funds every bit as lucrative as conventional sports, but existing franchises such as Formula One and top football championships are now offering official eSport spin-off championships.
Some of the best gamers are even crossing over into ‘real’ sport, with a handful of gamers ending as professional racing drivers (and some becoming successful in their own right).