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Games’ cultural role in the 2020s

Report by Karol Severin

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20,000 foot view:  Over time, games have carved out their role from the cultural fringes, through to becoming a firmly established part of digital-consumer culture. Now, they have the opportunity to become the epicentre of digital culture. To do so, gaming needs (and has already started) to evolve from a standalone pastime towards a destination for all other forms of entertainment. Games companies should proactively embrace, rather than compete against, other attention-seeking entertainment formats. Together, they can create unique experiences for audiences and all benefit from incremental value.

Key insights

  • For something to be culturally relevant, it needs to: be framed by creativity and consumption; be societal; and transcend time

  • Gaming evolved from the cultural fringes in the pre-smartphone era to a firmly established pillar of consumer culture, alongside video, music, sports, and social media

  • Due to the majority of consumers’ time already being allocated, it is increasingly more difficult to grow time spent, and therefore, cultural relevance

  • Games can evolve from a standalone pastime to a destination for wider entertainment consumption, absorbing some of time spent on non-gaming formats

  • Thanks to their interactive nature, games are well positioned to host unique digital experiences for music, video, sports, and socialising

  • The key battle for cultural relevance over the next decade will take place between games and social media

  • Games already have        interfaces, enabling deeper fan experiences and cultural moments than social media

  • Social media is still more advanced in combining content across entertainment and fostering social interactions than games

  • Both games and social media will provide unique platforms and use cases for other entertainment formats to reside in, in the digital environment

Companies and brands mentioned in this report:  Epic Games, Unreal Engine, Meta

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