Video gaming has come a long way since the launch of the first commercially successful game in the 1970s. Pong had two rectangular white blocks representing table-tennis bats, which beeped and bounced a digital dot back and forth across a plain background.
From such simple beginnings, video games have morphed into a world of colour, action and sound where lifelike graphics immerse players in evermore imaginative ways. At the same time, the gaming industry has developed into a multibillion-dollar juggernaut.
Games like Fortnite, the world's biggest selling video game to date, incorporate an addictive mix of action, adventure and lifelike graphics. Gamers can buy V-Bucks, Fortnite's in-game currency, to upgrade characters and unlock new player levels.
In 2017, spending on video games in the US reached $29 billion, up from just $17.5 in 2010. When consoles and accessories are added to the mix, the figure totalled $36 billion.
This is how that looks in context:
- It's more than Bahrain's gross domestic product for the same year - which as the chart below shows has risen rapidly.
- You'd get nearly three 2018 Winter Olympics for it. The games in Pyeongchang cost an estimated $12.9 billion.
- Or if Winter Olympics aren't your thing, you could buy over 80 Airbus A380s, based on last year's average list price.
- But, in June, Apple posted quarterly revenue of $53.3 billion, while Americans spent $100 billion on sports in 2016-17.
Who’s driving gaming growth?
Gaming is not just popular among boys and young men. In fact, adult women represent 33% of all video game players in the US, almost double the proportion of boys aged under 18 (17%), according to a recent study by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).
Gamers are also older than you might think: players aged 18 and over make up more than 70% of the country’s gaming population; and the average age of a US gamer is 34 years old (32 for males and 36 for females).