Gaming, Geek, Tech

Game On – The Stars are the Limit

Girl playing videogames in a funny face

You’re sitting on the subway or bus on your way to work, or you are in line at the grocery store. Everywhere you look, every single person is on his or her mobile device. Are they texting, “WhatsApping,” checking e-mail or just playing a game? For those of us who used to actually read comic books on paper, who remember a large black analog phone ringing in the kitchen even before there was a separate answering machine to take “voicemail” and who were thrilled to play on an Atari 2600 with simple games like Asteroid and Missile Command, this new age of gaming seems very Kubrick-like.

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Any moment, Hal will break in and let us know we are imagining it all, but the solid fact is over 65% of American households play computer, video or mobile app games. And it’s not old fashioned single joysticks anymore. The technology exists to turn any phone into a mobile game device, complete with buttons, joysticks and mini steering wheels. Not that you necessarily need them to play either, as you very certainly know.

Games of the Future

More than 200 million families use next-generation video consoles and the average age of a gamer is… not 13, not 21, but 35-50 years old. Sorry to say, now you simply must find your favorite old comic books online or at the App Store in the form of every game possible, from slots games to role-playing.

This would surprise a stereotypical video game geek from 1983, but a large majority of gamers are now women. According to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2015 report, 44% of all US video game players are female. In some countries that’s even higher. For instance, Japan has by far the most gamer girls, at 66%, while in Finland and the UK things are almost equal, with ladies at 49%. Gaming demographics have certainly changed in the last few decades, and that in turn has changed gaming trends and actual products on offer.

Girl playing videogames in a funny face
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And it’s not just flashy lights and loud sounds that keeps the average gamer intrigued. The average gamer is now a successful lawyer or someone’s mom, so Ms. Pac Man and Donkey Kong just aren’t going to cut it anymore. 38% of gamers have at least one child, reports NewZoo. What keeps the interest of these intelligent and successful people? ESA reports that 62% of gamers play with others, which encourages online and offline social gaming. Just like reality television, reality gaming has taken off.

The Great Oz Has Spoken

Celebrity and athlete endorsements were just the beginning. Remember William Shatner endorsing the Commodore VIC-20 home computer in the ‘80s? Celebrities are now collaborating with software developers to create their own video games and mobile apps. International online casino and gaming brands are now collecting their own gallery of ambassadors to the game. From Bingo to Ancient Greek Warfare to Role Playing Magical Adventures, there is something for everyone.

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Want to know how to dress to be a Hollywood icon? Download Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood or the interactive adventure Kendall and Kylie.

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Want to play poker next to some of the fiercest competitors in the world? Follow Poker Stars SportsStars’ Ronaldo, Neymar Jr and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have as much passion for the felt as they do the field. Realizing that many already famous athletes have an affinity for the card game, poker website Poker Stars decided to team up with them to associate them with its products and expand its audience. These top footballers and more athletes take their passion for sports to the virtual and real poker tables.

How did this get started and how much money is in celebrity games? Way back in 1984, Bruce Lee starred in his own video game. Remember the fanatic craze of Sim City? Drew Carey had a cameo in The Sims: House Party. Christina Aguilera and Jon Bon Jovi appeared in The Sims: Superstars and Phil Collins portrays himself in 2006’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

Real or Simulated?

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Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. Celebrity games are. When Glu Mobile partnered up with Kim Kardashian to create her Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, many scoffed and thought, “Really? It won’t last.” That was the understatement of the century. According to Glu Mobile’s CEO, Niccolo de Masi, the game has brought in $100 million since its launch in 2014. The game itself is a free download, but gamers can purchase virtual goods, from clothes and accessories to private jets. Apparently those in-app purchases brought in a whopping $16 billion in 2015.

Keeping Up With…

Riding the tails of another Kardashian success, half-sisters Kylie and Kendall Jenner also collaborated with Glu Mobile to create their own Android and iOS game, where the gamer gets to play a friend of the sisters and work with them to achieve their dreams and aspirations..

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It is the extravagant social media following that has influenced the decision of Glu’s de Massi to form several contracts with multiple celebrities since the Kardashian success. Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Gordon Ramsey and Jason Statham have all joined the ranks of celebrity mobile app developers.

Fan Frenzy

Sports stars are not far behind. Cristiano Ronaldo launched his own mobile app in 2012 to the delight of fans worldwide. While this app was not a virtual game, it was a way for fans to stay connected with everything Cristiano Ronaldo. Having been named by many as the world’s #1 athlete, the superstar has over 40 million followers on Facebook. The app provides Cristiano’s fans with exclusive content and direct engagement with the athlete.

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Athletes, like other media celebrities, look at developing their own mobile apps as a way to strengthen their brand name and increase their social media following. Some are virtual games, such as Joe Montana’s iMFL, a fantasy football app, and others create fitness tools, such as Atlanta Falcons’ own Tony Gonzalez.

Regardless of the style or variety, mobile and online gaming is the here and now. From athletes to celebrities to presidential candidates, anyone who is anyone has their own app. What this hot new trend will mean for the future of video games and smartphone apps is anyone’s guess but whether you like it or not, it’s certainly interesting to see what the future will bring.

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