How Video Games Become the Trend
Gaming has expanded itself since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 and it seems it’s not going to stop anytime soon. If we look back, in the past, gaming was not as popular as it is today. Presently, gamers are not as rare as they were before. It was likely because most people are looking for activities to fill their time since most individuals are stuck at home. Popular games that people mostly play include slot vigor gacor, Valorant, Minecraft, Animal Crossing, and many more.
The industry experienced a spurt of growth and will continue to grow throughout 2022. According to Finances Online (2020), there were 2.69 billion gamers around the globe and the number is predicted to increase to 3.07 billion in 2023. The number was forecasted based on a 5.6% year-on-year growth. The number of audiences in e-sports is predicted to increase as well.
With the number of audience and gamers rising, many view this as an opportunity for revenue. The value of the gaming industry might increase and surpass $300 Billion which is more than what films and music are making, combined. How did the game industry expand so much? Influencers could be the cause. Thanks to platforms such as TikTok, Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram, many individuals, teens especially, have involved themselves in social media to be influencers and content creators. Since gaming is expanding its horizon, social media influencers and content creators play games to increase their viewers. Additionally, game developers can even collaborate with content creators to play their games to promote.
Politicians in Video Games
With such a big market, many politicians see this as an opportunity to campaign, Animal Crossing being one of the main platforms. However, how can video games be used for campaigning?
The United States of America (USA)’s president was elected in November 2020 and it marked the end of a campaign that happened during the pandemic which affected millions of lives at the time. The gaming industry, however, thrived during said time. Game consoles, game subscriptions, and other forms of gaming experienced a rise in sales as well. One of the most popular games at the time was Animal Crossing: New Horizons – the game is all about building and decorating your own island. Players get to visit other people’s islands, interact with villagers with various personalities, shake trees for fruits, plant flowers, build homes, and many more. In 2022, the game sold about 22.4 million copies worldwide.
Politicians and political activists use online games, mostly, to spread awareness of their worries. For example, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement activists had created a monument in Animal Crossing with portraits of victims of police violence: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. This movement also took place in World of Warcraft, The Sims, and Grand Theft Auto.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US congresswoman, took this as an opportunity to spread her campaign as well in Animal Crossing. She went on an election campaign tour in the game and delivered personal messages to islanders. Democratic candidate at the time, Joe Biden, experienced support in the game as well. Players put up campaign posters of him in their virtual front yards to express their support for the now-US president.
In 2021, Canada had a federal election campaign. The leader of Canada’s progressive New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, launched their very own island on Animal Crossing. Islanders can visit their island and learn about their campaign and learn how to get involved as well.
That’s not the end of it as well, Among Us was also involved in political awareness. In November 2020, Jagmeet Singh teamed up with US representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on Twitch to live stream their Among Us gameplay. Twitch is a large video streaming platform and its audiences consist of people who are between the ages of 16 to 34 years old and players of the game consist mostly of teenagers. As a result, they are able to reach out to more young voters by the live stream.
We have discussed political campaigns in video games, now how about in-game advertisements? Do politicians do that? The answer is, that they do. Advertisements in games are meant to be accessories, in fact. However, some politicians took a leap of faith and tried advertising in racing games and basketball games.
Barack Obama is not left out of this trend. He opted for in-game ads during his 2008 campaign in 18 popular video games which include NBA Live 08, and Burnout Paradise. Barack Obama’s team was aware of how little impact it can be to advertise their campaign in individual games since players would only focus on their gameplay. However, they wanted to reach a specific target group through tactical measures and they wanted a more innovative way to reach people.
Politicians diving into the gaming scene might be bold because no one has done this before, however, it’s innovative and creative. People are aware of their campaign and while not directly learning about it, they picked up some information. Hence, it’s considered a good strategy.
Do Games Have Political Potential?
Game developers tend to ignore this since political complications can be bothersome to players. Gamers tend to get so immersed in their gameplay that they ignore everything else in the game other than their gaming experience. Hence, a political advertisement would just go unnoticed by most players. A handful of players would focus on their environment and see the advertisements or campaigns, however, there’s little chance it’d be a retentive experience.
Since most players seek to escape reality when they play games, political campaigns aren’t something that game developers are particularly excited about. Since players cannot escape reality when they see political actions taking place in-game, political campaigns may interfere with other players’ experience and enjoyment of the game.