Aspects of Culture: Economics

[Originally posted on May 18, 2015]

By Jacob Toman

This is a public study on several pillars of culture. Gospel & Gaming is observing these foundational aspects of culture for the purposes of better educating our readers about how & why gamers are a culture unto themselves.

For part one of this series, check out Language as a foundation piece of culture here.

For part two (Literature) of this series, check out Literature as a piece of culture here

For part three (Art) of this series, check out Art as a piece of culture here

ECONOMICS

As we've been studying the various aspects of culture here at Gospel & Gaming, the elephant in the room has been looming; economics. How big is this elephant? Take a look at some key figures:

400,000 -Eve's economy is Bigger than Iceland circa 2012

Here's a great quote about Eve Online (see video below *Warning-Language*)

"It’s a sprawling economy, with more than 400,000 players participating in its virtual market — more people, in fact, than live in Iceland. Inflation, deflation and even recessions can occur." (read more from this 2012 piece here)

$100 Million -spent annually in one game circa 2005

$100 million is an incredible amount of money for any company, but the numbers have continued to grow over the last decade. This article is a bit of a blast from the past, still discussing whether or not online in-game economies would be mostly open, free markets, or controlled by the ownership group or production company. in 2013, almost a decade later, WoW reported nearly 1 Billion in revenue. (read more from this 2005 piece, or read more from this 2013 piece)

Social Gaming Phenomena

Check out the following infographic about the social gaming phenomenon.

These are just 3 quick examples out of the many statistics that could be shown representing the size and spectrum of economics. Economics reveal what a culture values with it's resources, ideas, and time. Economics of a culture reveals who is in the workforce (people), what the workforce is producing (things) and where the workforce interacts (place). These 3 questions of economics reveal an incredible amount of information about what a particular people group value.

So let's look quickly at these 3 questions of gamer economics, and learn what the answers reveal about the cultural values of gamers-

1. Who

2. What

3. Where

 

Who is in the workforce?

There are of course as many positions for gamers as there are in any culture. Gamers are humans (hopefully this is not a new piece of information) and as such any work is welcome, from the food industry, to goods & services. The breadth of employment within gaming is worthy to note for our purposes here as there are gaming bars, restaurants, brands of clothing, E-sports, and even custom cars.

While there is a great breadth of work within gaming culture, there are also specific roles

Typically those involved in creation of games (both video & tabletop) are either executives or specialists, with the general distinction between these two groups being that Specialists form direction, vision, and ideas, while the other group, Executives, executes the idea. This is hardly an exclusive dichotomy, and depending on the size of the project individual responsibilities may actually overlap in some areas. One example of this would be indie game developers and entrepreneurial game development takes a sharing of both executive and specialized skills in multiple team members.

 

Two quick things to take away from Who is in the gaming workforce.

1. Gaming pros are pros!

There is no one else that is better at making, producing, marketing, and maintaining imaginative, immersive, and interactive experiences than gamers.

2. Gamers wanted!

Whether it's making, playing, reporting, producing, talking, reviewing, coding, maintaining, criticizing, marketing, or anything else involving games, companies are starting up & hiring!

 

What does this workforce produce?

The gaming workforce produces all things gaming, from actual game & game related products, to gaming themed products. Gamers value, above all else, the stories and heroes of their personal experience as gamers. Being in a post modern time is perhaps ripe ground for our current consumer culture that places the highest priority on the individual's experience rather than an objective attempt at what products are worth in their overall utility in culture. Pragmatic value of a product is cast aside when discussing gamer culture since so much of the culture is consumed by the worship of entertainment and self indulgence.

The value placed on games is tremendous. Gamers value beyond anything (despite good content, or story, or mechanics) their own personal experience with a game. A game could have exceptional graphics (that word seems to have mostly disappeared from game marketing around 2010, although there we’re a few examples Michael was able to think of-Ryse for Xbox One, and the Order 1886 on PS4), a meaningful story, or immersive gameplay, but if a gamer has a subpar experience (which can be due to as many number of factors as the sands of the seashore) the product will be poorly received.

For being labeled as antisocial losers, the gaming industry is remarkably social, interactive, relational, and interpersonal. The "loner" label really doesn't hold to gamers in general, and neither does an argument that gamers don't want to experience life. Gamers want to experience life with other gamers (across the table face to face with another person, or digitally via internet communication technology). Even when playing games by themselves, gamers want to experience life through the eyes of another author, but instead of curling up with a book, the gamer curls up with a single player game. The gaming workforce produces experiences for a demanding human audience that is constantly craving more (both in a positive, imaginative, creative way, and in an idolatrous, sinful, obsessive way).

 

Two quick things to take away from What does this workforce produce.

1. Gamers make gaming stuff!

If it's themed around a game, from Super Mario, Zelda, Tetris, Star Wars, or something else, you can bet gamers are making all sorts stuff for it!

2. Gamers make gaming experiences!

Anything that takes time to do is an experience, and gamers want to make lasting experiences that impact & inform their audience.

 

Where does this workforce interact?

Gamers interact just like the rest of us do, via face to face, phones, text, email, social media, skype, VOIP, and snail mail (I talked with a gamer last week who doesn't trust internet transactions, so he sends all his bills via snail mail...). In this way we are all limited and granted opportunity to communicate in whatever form is available via communication technology.

One unique place this workforce interacts is within gamespace. There is something unique about communicating within the boundaries of a game that is special and intriguing. Communication inside a game can be very focused, much like in a meeting, with clear goals and incentives provided. Interacting within a game space can be highly competitive, or highly collaborative, depending on the interpersonal dynamics present within the group.

The opportunity represented in communicating within a gamespace can be summed up with the following example. In our gaming outreach community "G3", the Voice program "Teamspeak3" is divided up into several rooms that are customizable. These rooms are labeled according to the various games the members of G3 play-World of Warcraft, Minecraft, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends, Civilization, Hearthstone, etc. When someone is logged into Teamspeak3 and in a particular room, the assumption is made by other community members that discussion within that particular room will be centered around the game the room is named after. The communication shared by the community is focused around the space the community interacts. The same is true with gamers in the workforce, the workspace influences & focuses (or distracts) the communication.

 

Two quick things to take away from Where does this workforce interact?

1. Where impacts What!

Where communication takes place, impacts what is communicated, and what gets accomplished.

2. Gamers are where you are!

The next time you make a phone call, send a text, open an email, or pay a bill via snail mail, remember, gamers are doing the same thing!

 

Gaming economics reveals the values of gamers:

*Gamers value experiences

*Gamers value narratives

*Gamers value hard work

*Gamers value time in game

Gaming culture is a culture in need of the gospel. There are dozens more pages, blogs, & articles that should be written, and have already been written about the topic of the economics of gaming. If you'd like more information about the economics of gaming, feel free to contact us at Gospelandgaming@gmail.com