Why Now Is the Best Time to Be a Gamer

Video games have reached such amazing heights and spread through society so deeply that there has never been a better time to be a gamer. Ever.

In a recent conversation, my friend and I discussed how video games have changed throughout the years. He said they’ve become too mainstream and now "non-gamers" are all over the place. We went on to explain the dynamic shift they’ve taken, talking for hours, and ultimately leading me to pen this article.

So first off, yes, gaming has become mainstream. Sorry hipsters, society has accepted it  -- but don’t go running outside asking for someone to fill an empty spot in your game of Dungeons & Dragons just yet.

Games like World of Warcraft, Minecraft, and Call of Duty, have achieved great success and shown the power of large communities, the latter two blossoming into social norms without the slightest flinch.

minecraft, logo

With titles taking off like wildfire, consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation have had their communities grow larger than ever.

As of last year, PlayStation Plus broke 20.8 million active users, with Xbox Live growing to an impressive 48 million. Nintendo’s Wii U sales have been less than stellar, but the 3DS has sold over 65 million units; single handedly keeping Nintendo from taking a knockout while they wait for the Switch to take over.

Meanwhile, PC gaming has a accumulated a staggering user count with over 1.2 billion active users worldwide. That's over 14% of the entire world population.

But we aren’t done yet! We now throw in all the people who play apps on their phones, tablets, and whatever doohickey they may own. That number, would be 1.48 billion... in 2014.

Current worldwide mobile player numbers haven’t been confirmed yet, but in 2016, total revenue reached $40.6 billion. Billion... with a B. I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that.

angry birds, bird, pig, poster

With so many fans playing their games, publishers had to respond in kind; boosting the number of games by both first and third party developers. Call of Duty became an annual title that is now handled by three different studios due to the massive demand for its multiplayer.

Which then led to publishers also upgrading their peer-to-peer multiplayer capabilities. To accommodate the influx of new players, Microsoft increased the number of their servers from the Xbox 360’s 15,000 to 300,000 by the time the Xbox One landed.

Much of the newly garnered attention is because the consoles themselves have grown dramatically. And in such a consumer-based society, more and more people are drawn in by their near movie-quality graphics and engaging gameplay.

Here are some examples of the two biggest competitors throughout the years:

Xbox

Original

733 MHz x86 Celeron/Pentium III CPU

233 MHz nVidia GeForce 3 NV2A GPU

64 MB DDR SDRAM @ 200 MHz

360

3.5 GHz IBM PowerPC tri-cored CPU

500 MHz ATi Radeon X1800 GPU

512 MB GDDR3 RAM @ 700 MHz

One

1.75 GHz AMD x86-64 eight-core CPU

853 MHZ AMD Radeon HD 7000 GPU

8 GB DDR3 Ram @ 2133 Mhz

 PlayStation

PlayStation

R3000A 32bit RISC @ 33.8mhz

620,000 polygons/sec

 

PS2

300 MHz MIPS

147 MHz

 

PS3

Cell Broadband Engine @ 3.2 Ghz

550 MHz RSX

256 MB Main RAM

256 MB GDDR3 VRAM

PS4

8 Core AMD

AMD Radeon 18 Compute Units @ 800 MHz

GDDR5 8 GB

With consoles capable of so much more, developers and tech companies have ushered in new abilities for them, with accessories like the Kinect 2.0 and PlayStation VR. Likewise, PC players can get their hands on the Oculus Rift, HoloLens, and HTC Vive to expand their gaming.

These accessories garner more buzz and attention from people who would have never looked twice at a gaming console. They show how far technology has come, and gamer or not, it's always exciting to see what's around the bend.

ps vr, playstation, virtual reality

Now these are great features with a lot of good offerings, but for most longtime gamers, it’s the games that really matter.

With so much processing and graphical power under the hood, games are bigger and better than ever. Classics like Mario will always be loved for laying down the very foundation so many games are based on generation after generation, but its lasting appeal is more nostalgia than reverence for its individual qualities.

With ultra-realistic, high definition visuals, and sound more encompassing than ever with modern staples like 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, it's easier than ever to become engaged in the living breathing worlds and war-torn wastelands developers are creating. The enhanced controls put every nuance of movement into your hands and fingers from wild jolts, recoils, and hits to gentle lulls and rises.

And when developers unite the above qualities, they can create far richer stories and characters; giving them their own personalities and motivations. You see their reactions and expressions, hear the pain in their voice, and feel their emotion. It is in that realization that you become aware you care about this fictional, digital person.

Classics like Mario, Mega Man, and Sonic are all fantastic characters who have grown throughout history. But it is in that growth that you can perceive what they lacked so long ago and what even these beloved legends have gained by the rise in technology and skill.

mario, sonic, mega man

Much like movies being easier to consume than a book for much of the general population, games have grown more cinematic and artistic to the point of paralleling films. Video games have trailers that gain millions of views, fully orchestrated soundtracks created by renowned composers, and characters voiced and motion-captured by AAA actors like Kevin Spacey.

Movie adaptations of video games continue to be made as well, with Hollywood acknowledging the merits of video game stories and worlds. Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, and Assassin's Creed all made it to the big screen, with even more titles planned.

Conventions and award ceremonies continue to grow with such amazing support that professional careers have spawned for fans. Cosplayers and voice casters can make a living off doing just that due to the support they get from both fans, developers, and publishers.

The games, conventions, cosplays, and movies, all would have been impossible if not for the enormous success of video games as an industry, hobby, art, and culture.

fallout, fallout 4, fallout 3

The future of gaming looks bright, gamers, so put on your shades/helmets/masks/ cowls/hoods/crowns and get to it.

Heroes don’t make themselves.

Published Apr. 4th 2017

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