In total, there are 34.7 million gamers in Britain and the way they play games is changing.
The CEO of games industry trade body UKIE, Dr Jo Twist said, “One in three people in the UK regularly play games, both on their own and with each other online."
“It has never been easier to connect and play together with friends and family anywhere in the world. People talk to each other and can pick up all sorts of team skills by playing together.”
“I catch up with my friends via video games”
Vikki Blake, a 38-year-old mother and wife from Cardiff catches up with her friends by playing video games rather than in the pub.
“I have a full-time job and my little one, so I can’t play games for 60 hours a week, but on week nights I, and half a dozen of my friends, ‘get together’ online,”’ Vikki says.
“We tend to play shooters, ‘Call of Duty’, that sort of thing. We party up on weekend evenings. We get together and play, in the same way non-gamers go to the pub, I guess.”
Blake and her friends are far from alone. In Britain, 11 million people play online games regularly, according to Gametrack.
“It is just what we do instead of television,” says Blake. “For me, it is far less passive than just sitting watching, and when it comes to plots, games are often more believable. I have cried much harder at games than I have watching films.”
[Gandalf, Han Solo And Clint Eastwood All In One Game?!]
“I’m closer to people I play online games with”
David Wilson, a 40-year-old teacher from Leeds explains that although he still goes out with his mates, he feels closer to those he also plays video games with.
“When I moved out of London, I stayed in touch with one friend more than any of the others because we played ‘World of Warcraft’ together,” he says.
“Whenever the whole gang catches up at weddings or whatever, we’re always the ones who know all the gossip already, because we’ve spent so much time in Azeroth (the ‘world’ of Warcraft), and we always chat via the headset on our PCs.”
“I asked him to be my Best Man, in real life, obviously, despite the fact that over the years, we’ve probably spent more time together as an orc and a zombie, than we have as humans!”
“Gaming online is good for business”
Laurie Milne, 54, founder of Black Diamond Luxury, uses online gaming to stay in touch with friends including other senior figures and CEOs from the watch and jewellery industry,
“'’Call Of Duty’ is a great way for boys to be boys, and pretend to be warriors,” he says, “Because it is all online I can fight friends as far away as New York, Singapore and Santa Monica. This is, of course, only if they are not off surfing!”
Could the battlegrounds of ‘Call Of Duty’ soon replace the boardroom? We doubt it, but it might be a good way (as Milne does) to stay in touch with people in his industry without being too formal.
“Even though I’m older, I can still play”
Richard Jenkins, a funeral director and parent from Liverpool, plays with a gaming clan called ‘Dad’s Army’. Gamer ‘clans’ are groups of people who fight together in online games - often shoot ‘em ups.
“Most of the guys I play with are the same age, so we called our ‘clan’ Dad’s Army,” he says.
“I will mainly play between 10pm and midnight, with other clan members from Dad’s Army Clan, all older guys. Before the children arrived, I religiously played the cult game ‘Warhawk’. I met lots of friends through playing it many of whom have stayed friends since 2007.”
“I play games with my Mum”
A generation of parents has arrived who grew up gaming themselves and play with their children as well as friends. On average, 42% of parents play with their children in the UK, according to UKIE.
“I first started with the original PlayStation when I was 16, and I have been playing since through every console for 17 years,” says Samantha Drury, 30, an accountant for GlaxoSmithKline.
“I have always found the PlayStation community to be helpful, friendly and welcoming. Their games always never fail to make me happy, and the controls are so easy even my Mum can play! She loves ‘Little Big Planet’.”
The community is growing
Strategy Analytics’ Video Games Forecast predicts that online gaming is going to grow while the traditional ‘solo’ type of game dwindles. This year online game sales will grow 7% to £11.7 billion in Europe.
Online games such as ‘Call Of Duty’ and the soon-to-be-released, ‘Destiny’, have made it acceptable for ‘grown ups’ to get together online.
The technology the new games have and the audience’s appetite for online gaming will see this trend continue.