Playing in 2025
Our exploration of play suggests a growing incursion of ‘real life’ into the virtual world. Increasingly powerful technologies bring an incredible range of options for making virtual play increasingly “real” and increasingly integrated with real life.
The new gaming tools are also reinforcing the trend toward serious or purposeful play, setting the stage for a growing influence of gamification on other parts of everyday life.
How We Define the Key Concepts of Playing:
- Leisure: the freedom to do what one desires. A prerequisite of play and a key contributing factor in the future of play.
- Recreation: What one does with leisure time; can include play as well as many other activities.
- Fun: An ephemeral mental state of enjoyment resulting primarily from play (though it can also arise from work and other activities); is thought of as spontaneous and unforced.
Trends and Stats:
Video and computer game purchases are declining as alternative formats grow, such as subscriptions, digital full games, digital add-on content, mobile apps, social network gaming and other physical delivery.
Top reasons why gamers say they purchase a computer or video game:
- quality of game graphics
- an interesting storyline
- a sequel to a favorite game
- word of mouth
Gamers playing more video games than they did three years ago and are spending less time:
- Leisure time is increasing by about 5 hours a month; the average amount of time working decreased by almost 8 hours per month between 1965 and 2003.
- On a monthly basis, time spent working decreased from about 1,900 hours on average in 1950 to about 1,700 hours today.
- Play time is increasingly bounded and supervised. At the extreme, some parents are hiring play date consultants to organize their children’s play.
- Money spent on recreation was $897 billion in 2009 or 9% of total personal consumption—an increase from $304 billion and almost one percentage point compared to 1990.
- The games industry continues to outgrow movies and music.
- Mobile gaming on the rise: 79% of parents with children aged 2–14 report that they or their children own some type of mobile device, such as a traditional cell phone, smartphone, or tablet; up from 63 percent last year.
- Game characters/avatars are increasingly seen as extensions of identity e.g. App Tracks Your Face to Control a Game.
- Video games are emerging as an accepted art form.
- Gaming as a spectator event/sport. A nascent phenomenon of video games is drawing spectators to watch exceptional players in competition.
- Gamification, the phenomena of overlaying game elements on top of other activities to make them more engaging or playful, continues to expand.
Examples of Cutting-Edge Play
- Cosplay (Costume Play) is emerging; it involves making and dressing up as video game and entertainment characters and acting out scenarios from game/entertainment products.
- Worldbuilding continues to grow. Fan-generated fiction, images, and other artifacts that expand or add depth to the settings of games and entertainment products. These fan-generated products are sometimes reincorporated into the original.
- Machinima, using video games to create videos and act out story lines not necessarily related to the game, and sometimes involves hacking, is expanding. These innovations can become products of their own, e.g., Red vs. Blue animated TV series generated using the Halo game generator software.