WHY VIDEO GAMES AREN’T ALL THAT BAD

As true gamers, I bet you have been judged more than once in the typical gamer stereotypes that people hold — that you are a socially-challenged and entitled brat who has nothing productive to do.  So, the next time you face such discrimination, tell them off with these facts we gathered from global research on how gaming is good for you.

Increased Health Benefits

Not all of us fit this stereotype.

Gaming isn’t all that bad for your health, as we always feared.  After all, a lot of people tend to be couch potatoes that spend endless hours on their controllers (oh wait, that’s a stereotype!).  According to a recent research by the University of Rochester, gamers playing action-based video and computer games made decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy.  The same study also concludes that champion gamers  can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared with the four that someone can normally keep in mind — in a work environment that realistically needs its employees to juggle multiple complicated tasks, we see this as a fun way to build a pipeline of employable talent.

Increased Dexterity in Real World Situations

Its funny how people will yell sexist at any insinuation you make on women’s driving skills — and yet, will stand by their long-held beliefs that gamers could never get a date, implying that all gamers are overweight potato couches with a bottle of beer and a packet of chips on the side.  That was until now when the research above found that 42% of computer and video game players are women!  Getting back to the benefits, it seems female gamers were “better able to mentally manipulate 3D objects, a skill at which men are generally more adept” (quoting verbatim from the study, lest someone scream sexist again!).  I can see how this might be helpful in some situations like, say, parking a car?

Crowdsolving Social Problems

FoldIt uses social collaboration with a competitive edge to decipher proteins.

It wasn’t too long ago when Seth Cooper from the University of Washington, decided to tap into efforts of  thousands of gamers to solve scientific problems.  His coworker  Firas Khatib and his army of gamers cracked a critical AIDS research problem — determining the three-dimensional structures of different proteins — in just three weeks.  They used FoldIt, a social gaming experiment that brought together thousands of gamers to solve this longstanding issue.  It is interesting to note that two-thirds of the top scorers in this game have no biochemistry experience beyond statutory high school.  You learn more about the FoldIt project here and about its application to AIDS research here.

Making Work Fun

Using gaming concepts to make business processes smoother and solving critical organizational challenges is fast becoming popular — although the only thing we want to see changed about this is the term “gamification”.  For instance, with the popularity of Facebook as a marketing tool, companies are turning to gaming concepts — such as reward for progress achieved — into branding and sales tools.  Starbucks rewards (and attracts) visitors who check in to outlets on Foursquare with a Barista badge, and their most loyal customers with a $1 off.  Nike+ lets you save runs, set goals and challenge friends while you exercise.  All successful examples of how organizations have adopted gaming concepts.

But last, and definitely not the least, simple games put smiles on people — and that counts more than all else.  If you haven’t seen this already, check out how fondly this 100-yr old grandmom talks about her Nintendo:

Research and articles sourced from:

GAMING IN INDIA: WHEN WILL IT TAKE OFF?

Depends on how you define gaming–if you are referring to Angry Birds on iPhone, Android, or Chrome, the “gaming” industry is set to take off very soon.  If you are a hard core gamer and are offended by Angry Birds players calling themselves “gamers”, then I am afraid the Indian gaming industry is still a few years away from taking the mainstage.  For the purpose of this article, I am referring to the latter group (and yes, I am offended by Angry Birds players calling themselves “gamers”).

The Sony Playstation 3 and the Microsoft XBOX S are both very popular worldwide and have great potential in India, considering how they tend to be more attractive to the geeky kids in school–and there are millions of those in India.  The problem though is whether the average Indian parent is ok with spending about 15,000-20,000INR on a console and then splurge on 2,500INR games every month?  Most likely, the answer is no.  Companies seem to realize that though, with both Sony and Microsoft introducing stripped down versions of their popular PS3 and XBOX consoles in India.

While most newspapers and Internet articles focus on how much potential the mobile gaming market has, they tend to ignore the potential of the console gaming market.  Contrary to popular biases, KPMG estimates shows that console gaming market had 4.5B INR in revenues back in 2008 and is expected to grow to 9.4B INR in 2013.  Considering the small demographic segment that consoles are aimed at, this is pretty big money.

In our opinion, there are a few things that Indian industry and government will need to get right to really allow this market to grow:

Reduce entry-load:  Consoles, especially those with current generation hardware, cost a lot.  A lot more than what dollar-earning Americans pay for them.  Does it not sound surprising that consoles manufactured in China cost less when imported to the U.S.  than to neighboring India?  Yes, it is the government to blame.  There is about a 27% tax on gaming consoles shipped to India.  Considering that there is no Indian company that manufactures consoles (for itself or for Microsoft/Sony), it is hardly justified for the government to charge this hefty tax–who is it protecting anyway?  That said, it does lead to an interesting situation–if the current trend of reducing console prices continues, and companies manage to get enough loyal gamers in India, then they can start manufacturing in India and reduce costs as well as tax liabilities and pass on some of those benefits to consumers.

Reduce ongoing expenses for gamers: A key reason why gaming has not taken off is because gamers–typically students and young professionals–don’t always have the disposable income required to buy the newest games.  In a month, you can probably buy Crysis 2 (~2,000INR), Homefront (~2,500INR), or Dirt 3 (~2,500INR) but not all.  So gamers are forced to choose one, and typically don’t end up buying the other two altogether for a variety of reasons (reviews didn’t speak highly of the others, they chose to borrow from a friend, or a new game piqued their interest instead).  This leaves a lot of money on the table that companies are unable to capitalize on.  Companies must therefore look not at how much they are gaining from a specific game, but how much their portfolio of games is earning them in all.

The tax on imported game DVDs is about 15% (if you believe this article).  While at some point, companies may move to manufacturing DVDs in India, it still has to make business sense.  Also, console DVDs will always cost more than PC DVDs.  Check out what the good folks at Indianvideogamer.com teach us about this.

Involve the family: This one is for manufacturers and marketers.  More often than not, the decision to buy the console (and sometimes, games) is taken by a parent, not by the consumer.  So, it is essential to attract them as well.  It is obvious that our kids will have an easier time getting their consoles than we did!  The XBOX Kinect, the PS3 Move, and the Wii are all steps in the right direction as they help the family get together for some fun times together.  There hasn’t been any conclusive evidence collected in India, but Kinect definitely turned around XBOX’s feeble position in the gaming market.

The above is hardly exhaustive and there are numerous other steps companies can take to establish a console market in India.  What are your suggestions?  Use the comments below to share your opinions.  And don’t forget to follow us on facebook and twitter.