Saturday, March 28, 2009

Serious eGames Conference Starts Monday

With KOM's annual Serious eGames Conference set to start on Monday 30 March at the Middle East College of Information Technology, if you thought video games were only for fun then you had better think again. Today, we’re seeing increased interest in serious gaming. In simple terms, that means the use of interactive video games to make learning more engaging. In response to this demand, video game developers are creating a broad repertoire of educational and training games that can be used in the health, education, tourism and culture sectors – to name just a few.

“Some of today’s more popular video games – such as SimCity, Civilization and Hidden Agenda – are already being used in schools and universities across the world. Indeed, industry research clearly suggests that the demand for serious games will only increase. One reason could be that far more adults – rather than teens or children – are playing video games today,” says Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General.

In this sense, video games are much like movies, people don't just stop watching movies after they outgrow Disney. They just switch to different types of movies. It's the same in the gaming industry – adults still want to play games, they're just choosing different types of games.

“The video gaming industry isn’t just about the youth market – far from it,” remarks KOM’s Marketing Director, Ibtisam Al Faruji, adding: “recent IBM and Sony Computer Entertainment figures paint a very different picture, several of these statistics are particularly relevant to the use of ‘games’ for learning and development and help us overcome the perception that ‘games are just for teens, especially as the average game player is now 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years.”
Other figures show that 38% of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population
(31%) than boys age 17 or younger (20%). Moreover, 49% of game players say they play games online one or more hours per week.

According to the Entertainment Software Association 70% of major employers utilize interactive software and games to train employees. The study data also showed that more than 75% of businesses already offering serious game-based training plan to expand their usage in the next three to five years. In brief, serious games has multiple applications that are relevant to Oman’s health, education, training, tourism, culture and civil defence sectors and it’s a market that is growing rapidly.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2007 - 11 report predicts the global gaming market - measured by consumer spending on games played on all platforms, including online and wireless games - will expand at a compound annual rate of 9.1% over the next five years.

In hard cold cash, PwC estimates that the video game market will increase from US$31.6 billion in 2006 to US$48.9 billion in 2011. This makes video games the third-fastest-growing segment of the entertainment and media market after TV distribution and Internet advertising.

The takeaway is clear: Spurred by the new generation of consoles and handhelds, and by increased penetration of broadband and wireless technologies, the serious games industry both globally and domestically is ripe with opportunity. “It’s apparent that there’s a lot of unlocked commercial potential. As a result, it’s predicted that over the next 10 – 15 years serious games will become ubiquitous. "Gamers" as a separate group will no longer exist, because everyone will be a gamer, as everyone now listens to music, watches TV, surfs the Net or reads a newspaper,” says KOM’s Director General.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE