Bond University recently ran a survey that concluded something we could have told you for free: New Zealanders love to play games online. 66% of Kiwis play video games regularly, while nine out of ten own some sort of video game device. Those of working age spend an average of 90 minutes per day hooked to a device. And these numbers can only be expected to grow, with more and more people across multiple sectors of society joining the legions of online gaming aficionados.
But what is it that drives us Kiwis to spend our free time playing games online? Is it the pure fun of it? The ability to play with others? Or are technological advances making it impossible to resist the lure of online gaming? Let’s explore.
Gaming used to have a negative stereotype. It was supposedly just for teens, nerds stuck playing all hours in their bedrooms. Now, everyone plays. From your run-of-the-mill teenager to grandma. The thing is that games have evolved so much, even in the last couple of years, that there’s something for everybody. The sheer number of options has really expanded the number of people who have decided to become an online gamer:
These games rely on your physical location to evolve and progress. This usually happens through GPS, for example on your smartphone. Games blend physical locations with the virtual to create an immersive experience. The 2016 release Pokemon Go is probably the most famous example.
Massively Multiplayer Online Game
Massively Multiplayer online games (MMO) are essentially designed in an XL format. By definition, they allow a large number of players to log on and play at the same time. We’re talking thousands or even millions of players at the same time.
When it comes to MMOs, there is only one king: World of Warcraft. The game was released back in 2004 and peaked at a jaw-dropping 12 million players. The game checked all the boxes. It was immersive, beautiful, and brought together players from all over. Put together, players have logged a mind-boggling 6 million years playing it.
Online Casino Games
Online casinos are one of the biggest growth sectors of online gaming in New Zealand. The fact is that Kiwis love casinos and a cheeky wager, with online pokies NZ (aka slots to the rest of the world!) being the first port of call for most.
And it’s easy to see why. There’s variety, a huge number of games, and a wide selection of progressive jackpots that can change your life from just a single spin. No wonder Kiwis love pulling that (virtual) lever…!
Passive Online Gaming (Live Streams, YouTube)
This is where you can go from being a player to being a spectator. Esports, as they’re known, have come a long way in the last couple of years. They’re now a legitimate contender against traditional sports such as football or baseball.
It turns out people really like to watch others who are good at their gaming craft. They use services such as Twitch or YouTube to catch players competing live, complete walkthroughs, and share tips and tricks for others. It’s a burgeoning industry.
The Psychology Behind Online Games
If you’re from the 80s, you remember the countless hours you spent on Pacman at the arcade, or at home with your Atari. 90s kid? You’ll be more familiar with SNES and playing GoldenEye on the N64. And the trend continues, with Generation Z glued to their PS4s, Xboxes and mobile phones.
The basic fact is: gaming, no matter the form, is always going to be popular amongst Kiwis. Nick Yee, a social scientist, has done a deep dive on the question of why we’re addicted to gameplay. He’s found three core motivational components:
- Achievement. Everyone likes the feeling of fulfilling a journey, completing a quest. Competing with and against others and coming out on top is a clear motivation, which partially explains why people love multiplayer games.
- Social. Multiplayer online gaming isn’t just about beating others. It’s also about being part of a team, chatting to other people scattered around the globe, and feeling like you’re part of a community.
- Immersion. Games are designed to make you feel like you’re really part of the action. That’s because humans love the psychological effect of immersion. Customizing characters so that they reflect our unique values. Crafting worlds that push the boundaries of imagination. Immersing ourselves in games that take us away from the vagaries of real life.
Growth = Guaranteed
Online gaming has well and truly landed. That’s an irrefutable fact. But while many think it’s an ubiquitous part of daily life, most don’t realize that this is just the beginning. Gaming, especially online, is still in its infancy. We’re the first generation that’s really starting to truly grasp the depth of experience online gaming can offer. And the best thing about it all? There’s more coming. Much more.