The UK gaming sector has been on a dramatic growth curve for over a decade with the recently released stats from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) showing it has more than doubled since 2007 to now be worth £3.864 billion, and, for the first time in its history, accounting for more than half of the entertainment market, outperforming video and music combined.
The UK is now the 5thlargest market in the world for gaming, with some of the world’s biggest game franchises developed here and an increasing number of games companies listing on the stock market. This may seem out of place with the hardware and tech traditionally coming from Asia, but a combination of the UK being at the genesis of the gaming sector, as well as UK universities offering a number of highly regarded related degree courses, means we have always had a very strong talent pool in this area. At the last count, there were more than 2,000 gaming companies, employing 18,500 people, in the country.
That 18,500 however is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the specialist talent in the UK, due to the knock-on effect that the gaming sector has had on countless other sectors, via the advent of gamification.
Gamification is the deployment of traditional game playing elements, such as rewards or interaction with other players, into non-gaming areas of business or education, to increase engagement or motivation, or to streamline processes or boost sales. Organisations from a wide range of sectors have been quick to capitalise on this, which has created a surge in demand for gaming and tech professionals. Developers apply game mechanics and commonplace user interfaces and UX to keep users engaged with a number of everyday gaming standards: winning rewards, improving skills, progressing through levels, moving up leader boards etc.
In the workplace, regardless of sector, gamification has come into its own in on-boarding, training and development, and employee engagement. Interactive systems are now being widely adopted for new starter inductions, as well as employee development, which in turns helps with attraction and retention of staff. There are many other examples, often in the form of apps, which have already become a part of everyday life, for companies that are nothing to do with gaming. For example:
- Fitbit and its peers have gamified the health and exercise sector with an award system for certain milestones
- Police training colleges use gamified examples of real-life scenarios that would be too expensive or dangerous to recreate
- Duolingo has gamified language learning by users completing level or being rewarded for regular check ins
- Think of the online dating industry, harnessing the “likes” culture of games and social media
- Businesses such as Plum and Chip have gamified savings and financial management, incentivising users with goals they set themselves
- It’s even changing retail, with big brands like Nike using augmented reality games to increase loyalty (and sales), with users needing to find and photograph new release products to ensure a chance to buy.
These are just the early adopters – banking is changing, retail needs to change further and, as users become more and more familiar with the “game” interface and culture, other sectors will come on board. All this means that 2019 will see an ever-increasing demand for the individuals with backgrounds in gaming who can make it all happen!