The Rise of Gamers and a Lesson for Designers

While the global growth of online gamers has slowed in recent years to about 5.5% annually, it still dramatically outpaces global population growth, which sits at just about 1%.

Using government stats, as well as data from Statista, I calculated that, in 2014, a full 25% of the world’s population was engaged in at least some online video gaming. If trends hold true, next year this percentage will increase to 35%… which means

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]2.7 billion people in 2021 will be virtual gamers. [/perfectpullquote]

There’s an important takeaway from this data for those of us responsible for designing the places where people will learn, work and live. It’s this: We have an opportunity and a responsibility to consider how online gaming can enhance and even transform these environments to make them meaningful human experiences. It’s a topic I dive into in greater detail in the latest issue of the Society for College and University Planners publication, Planning for Higher Education. (Note: article appears behind a paywall.)

Too many designers still think of gaming as nothing but recreation. Sure, gaming is enjoyable, but it can also be a powerful tool for improving learning, working and living. In particular, gaming may be a cure for the constantly low employee engagement scores as measured by Gallup.

As more and more people embrace gaming, they will reasonably and understandably come to expect its application in every part of their lives. Designers who dismiss or discount this trend are likely to create spaces that could and should have been much better at serving the human needs of those people who learn, work or live between physical and virtual space.