Mom, you should’ve let me play video games.

Hi Mom,

Remember when I was nine and you told me to stop playing Nintendo and go outside but I didn’t want to? Well, it turns out, I was somewhat of a visionary. No one plays outside anymore.

Gaming has become the biggest of entertainment industries. Not just for nine-year-old boys. Moms are gaming also. Digital music saw a 17 billion revenue last year, film box office 41 billion, television 105 billion dollars. And gaming….. 116 billion dollars.

That may seem unlikely to you. But just think of all the games everybody plays on their phones all the time.

And within gaming there’s been another interesting twist: more and more people are watching other people play video games. Which is a big part of that growing industry.

At first, this has especially been the case when it comes to professional competitive gaming. That’s called E-sports. Electronic sports. I know it sounds ridiculous to you, mom. But these are extremely skilled players, combining very fast reflex skills with equally fast strategic decision making.

(Watch from 19 minutes to hear the commentator calling out the strategic decisions the team makes and the huge crowd cheering like it’s a soccer match).

The top players make more than a million in prize money and in America tournaments are  broadcasted on ESPN regularly. 

Watching regular people play regular games in their bedroom is now also becoming part of the gaming industry mainstream. It’s called ‘Lets Play’. You watch someone else play an entire game, while you hear them talking to themselves or a friend about the experience. This seems weird even to me, mom. Why not just play the game yourself? If you investigate online, it seems that kids like the feeling of hanging out with someone and playing a game together. It’s a social experience while still enjoying some time alone. On top of that, many games nowadays have very strong and original storylines, so they can basically be watched as a movie of sorts.

One of the more popular Youtubers doing this succesfully is Pewdiepie. (Not his real name, mom). Look at the number of views…. 

Pewdiepie streams on Youtube. You know YouTube, mom. But apart from that, the main channel to broadcast your gaming on, is called Twitch. Twitch is one of the big media platforms of the Internet, it has 100 million unique viewers each month. Amazon bought them for 1 billion dollars four years ago. And all of those viewers subscribe to their favorite gamers and donate money to them directly.

To make their viewership and the money donations grow, a lot of the gamers are turning into entertainers themselves. Creating a full fledged channel with gimmicks to grab people’s attention. One of the most famous ones is Ninja. (Not his real name.)

Entertainers from other industries like Drake are joining Ninja on streams because they see the huge audiences they can accumulate there. (Drake is a singer, mom. Well.... kind of a singer.)

Anyway, gaming has been getting bigger and bigger. Partly because games are becoming fun to watch instead of play. Which is now a business on its own. So, if you would have let me keep playing and stop me from growing up and getting into grown up stuff, I wouldn’t have to write this blog. Or work all day. I could be broadcasting my gaming skills now, making a lot of money from my fans.

But it’s okay, you couldn’t have foreseen Twitch happening.

I’ll talk to you next month.