The UK is the sixth largest games market in the world in terms of consumer revenues (Ukie, 2017).
We have been speaking to our online community of 16-24s about gaming. We had the opportunity to explore their current gaming habits, frequency, device and game choice and how they started gaming.
Today Hardcore Gamers are those that really contribute to gaming culture. It’s not just about computer games either – tabletop gaming venues are emerging across the UK and games like Yu-Gi-Oh and Dungeons and Dragons are making a comeback.
Console gaming has taken a back seat in many of the older Tribes’ lives. Gaming either takes place via mobile or PC or via console very occasionally. This is mainly due to other priorities such as work and other interests such as hobbies and socialising.
Mobiles allow Tribes to access games wherever they are, offering a form of distraction and entertainment when they are trying to fill time out and about or at home.
I only really game on my phone – just quick little social games.
Aside from the addictive element, some also mentioned liking the variety of inexpensive gaming available for instant download on the app store.
However, they also explained that playing games on their phones took a toll on battery life and could get boring very quickly.
Playing games on the phone is so much easier as you always have your phone on you. Therefore – you can play whenever – whether you are on the train – on a quick break and etc. However – if you play the game for too long on the phone – you might drain the battery – which wouldnt be nice if you need to make important calls on it!
– Dee, 19
I only ever play games on my phone. Ill get really addicted for a few weeks and then get bored and never play it again.
The middle of 2016 saw the launch of Pokémon Go take the entertainment world by storm.
After becoming the fastest mobile game to achieve 10 million downloads worldwide in a week. Eliminating the stereotypical male gamer geek with nerdy glasses and leftover pizza.
It attracted players of all ages and skills exploring the streets and local parks in pursuit of Pikachu and friends.
The appeal is its a blast from the past for most people! Its a reminder of their childhood – but also shows how the game has changed since the 1990s/2000s! Its grown up and got online like the rest of the world!
Pokemon go is addictive because its one of the rare games that isnt pay to win. Everyone can do it and it gets you outside which makes you feel less guilty being on your phone.
I find it amusing that people who shunned video games – claiming its for kids or geeks – are all now running around looking for Pokemon. lol… for gamers like myself I think its definitely here to stay as long as they keep developing it. this is what weve been waiting for since we first played the game. I was a massive Pokemon fan back in the day and had Pokemon red on my gameboy (god knows where that is now) – so I love that they came out with this. It also puts Nintendo back on the map – which is great news for gaming fans.
Gaming is something picked up in the younger years and has clear associations with family. The majority of Tribes started gaming when they were ‘much younger’ often as young as 5 and 6 and were introduced by family members – brothers, dads, uncles, mums, sisters or cousins.
This was a key time for Game Boy, PlayStation and Nintendo and games such as Super Mario and Crash Bandicoot. Across the board, gaming holds strong positive memories for the Tribes and they recall quite specific memories around gaming.
I first started gaming when I was about 7 – I remember it was in the summer holidays and I was really bored and I was at my uncles house for the holidays and he slotted in a Super Mario Bros game cartridge into a dusty old Super Nintendo game console that he had in the attic if I remember correctly.
I was very young when I started probably around 5 – me and my Dad would play things like Crash Bandicoot on the old PlayStation and I use to play Spyro on the old Nintendo Gameboy.
Console gaming is more closely associated with social/communal gaming with family and friends. As this is seen as more of a social event, taking place in a communal area, it is unsurprising that Tribes engage with this form of gaming less often. While the many of the Tribes do own a console – again Nintendos and PlayStations were the most frequently mentioned followed by Xbox, they tend to only use them very occasionally now.
A good example would be the Wii despite being the childish family games console of this generation when it comes to family and friends everybody can play Wii boxing but not everybody knows mortal kombat kombos (lol kombos)..
Wii is a popular choice for gaming of this nature, viewed as something that brings the family together due to its fun, interactive and family friendly games. In general, Tribes express a desire for ‘fun’ games, that provide entertainment for all involved.
The Wii comes into use when the grandparents are over as they love playing it. it gets the entire family together!
Fifa, unsurprisingly also has close associations with social gaming although this tends to be with friends rather than family (often male). This is the likely reason most of them began playing. Out of the Tribes that do play Fifa the majority play it occasionally and at a friends house, however, there were a few Tribes that do play this more regularly.The social and competitive element to Fifa is key to its appeal as it is seen as a game that ‘brings people together’ in a similar way to football.
I normally play with mates – and only play FIFA.
I like how it can bring groups of friends together – but I think that sometimes people can get too competitive over it.
For many of the Tribes ‘the console’, is closely associated with home – having left for University without the console, it is something that is revisited when back. This could also be fuelled by memories of playing on consoles at home with family and friends when they were younger and there seems to be a sense of nostalgia around this form of gaming.
Currently – I use my laptop to play games – on Steam specifically. But back home – we have two Nintendo DSes – a Nintendo 3DS – a Nintendo Wii – a PS2 – PS3 – PS4 and PSP. The games we play on those devices vary greatly – from racing games to first-person shooter games.
For some Tribes, these associations and the nostalgic element could be part of the appeal of gaming today and there was a sense that retro consoles games such as Mario are having a comeback.
The consoles I use now are mostly retro like the Gamecube – Playstation 2 and Gamboy advanced. I recently completed Pokemon ruby and I want to play more pokemon games – I also like Mario and Zelda games even though they can be annoying.
Retro gaming is the best – it brings back good memories from childhood but it’s also just really fun.
Retro gaming has wide appeal, tapping into childhood nostalgia. Most Tribes were enthusiastic about retro gaming: the games themselves and the consoles (the Nintendo DS, the Gameboy Advance, the PS2 and the Sega Megadrive, among others).
I love retro gaming! It reminds me of fun times playing games with my brother.
Gaming has great nostalgic value: it takes Tribes back to a happy time, enabling them to relive the “magic” they felt first time around. Playing retro games again now is comforting; fun; a reminder of childhood.
There was a sense that gaming had lost some of its charm since Tribes’ childhood. While modern games have better graphics, retro games were said to be easier, more fun and conceptually superior. Portable games consoles were also perfectly suited to killing time; whilst travelling, for example. (Games on your mobile phone just aren’t the same).
Nowadays, gaming is an expensive hobby. One Tribe also had the impression the game market is more limited than it used to be, dominated by FIFA, futuristic/fantasy action games and racing games.
“I was maybe 5 when I first started gaming. We had the old school Nintendo back in the day and Duck Hunt was my very first game I played. I use to watch my sister play Mario Bros – until I was eventually old enough to play it myself.”
“I still have my original Gameboy COLOUR and my sister’s old Nintendo DS which I take with me on long train journeys or Megabus trips.”
“My favourite childhood games were the original Crash Bandicoot console games – nothing made me happier than playing those as a child.”
Overall there is the sense, that mobile and PC gaming is done alone when Tribes are looking for some escapism or a distraction. Many of the Tribes also praise PC games available and SIMs continues to be a popular choice. This could be due to its realistic take on escapism – the player can enter a world and become various characters that still feel true to real life and making the game feel more authentic and believable.
Now in my early 20s I’ll occasionally play Xbox with my teenage brother – but most of my gaming is apps like candy crush, when I’m bored or procrastinating.
I just want to be engaged with some pretty graphics and then switch off and carry on with life.
Amongst the Tribes that game there is a split between hardcore gamers and casual gamers. Gamers also expressed having different experiences on consoles compared to phones. Consoles have their own elements of excitement, realism and community. Whereas many casual gamers play games on their phones which were said to be easier, inexpensive but more for the purpose of filling time.
Gaming is often picked up in the very early years of the Tribes starting around the age of 5. Most of them have been introduced to particular consoles and gaming brands by close family members. Family member preferences influence the taste of younger gamers, especially for ‘real’ gamers who seek after games that require thought, skill and strategic thinking.
As the Tribes reminisced about playing games when they were younger, it suggested that their associations and sense of nostalgia could be part of the appeal of gaming today. For many, it is a form of escapism that reminded them of a simpler time with fewer challenges and brought back feelings of joy and familiarity that they experienced in childhood.