The 2015 revenue for the global gaming industry was 91.5 billion dollars. The industry has come a long way from the days of large game consoles hooked up to your television set. Now, games can be played on your watch and other handheld devices.
Over 50% of gamers are women and 94% of girls under the age of 18 play games. Whether you are 30-something female architect who likes First Person Shooter games like Call of Duty and Modern Combat or a 10-year-old who lives for Papa’s Pizzeria or Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, the gaming industry has morphed into a sector that has massive potential for continued growth.
This week forty students from the secondary and primary schools got to learn about building robots and developing video games. Kudos to the Ministry of Communications, Works and Labour for the initiative as part of the celebration of Girls in ICT Day. Both girls and boys were given the opportunity to experience the possibilities in the three-day workshop.
Rather than another plan to stick devices in our children’s hands in the name of progress and access, the students learned that with some basic knowledge they could build games that executed exactly what they told it to. Our sons and daughters must believe they can be creators and not just consumers.
While women and girls are playing the games as enthusiastically as their male counterparts, these numbers don’t translate to the number of women who are working in the industry designing or managing the development of video games. According to gamesindustry.biz, while the number of women in the industry has doubled, 76% of developers are men.
Latin America and by extension the Caribbean is considered the fourth major market in terms of gaming revenue. It is still quite a ways off with only four billion in revenue compared to the US with 23.5 billion in 2015. However this market is growing the fastest and there is no reason that more of our young women from the region cannot be a part of it.
There is no straight path that leads to game design. If you consider that games are being made into movies such as Hitman, or created from a Tom Clancy novel series such as Splinter Cell, the entry into the industry could come from a variety of sectors. Kim Kardashian has turned her reality stardom into a game which has been downloaded more than 40 million times.
But what of the people you don’t see who make the games come to life?
Architects are often asked to consult on design so buildings provide the aesthetics necessary to create a real world experience. Gamer and architect Linda Dias writes about this on her blog ArchiTribe. Artists are creating virtual assassins, fashion stars and chefs who look like you. Turning a popular novel into the story line for a video game takes skill. Your passion can be writing, yet you are making a living in this industry.
The gaming industry needs engineers, animators, modelers, musicians, writers, producers, designers.
Game designers make decisions about the roles of each character, the look and feel of the background, timing, the elements of risk taking, the rewards at each level, and the punishment. It is about creating a player experience that builds loyalty and encourages fans to come back time and time again.
The students this week used a device no larger than a credit card called a Rasberry Pi to make a video game. Tech infrastructure continues to change rapidly. This will enable more people and even our girls to access the vast possibilities in gaming. Increased broadband penetration, more robust mobile internet systems will help this growth considerably.
This is the right time to be talking to your girls about their future. Show them the possibilities beyond another mindless evening with Candy Crush Saga. They could use this interest to create games of their own. We need to show them what is possible and provide the access which can make it happen. Let us encourage them to not only consume the content which they download on the devices we’ve bought for them but to be creators of content which is in demand out in the world.