You may think you’ve already heard everything there is to hear about Millennials. There are 80 million Millennials, which means they’re the largest cohort in the workplace and consumer market. Estimates of Millennial buying power vary somewhat, but most come in around $200 billion annually. There is a widely-held preference among Millennials to spend their money on meaningful experiences, rather than on tangible items; one of those meaningful experiences is playing games.
The gaming market is huge. Globally, game revenue is expected to hit $108.9 billion this year. () Included in that total are console video games, as well as digital games played on smartphones and mobile devices. Millennials are a huge part of the reason gaming is booming.
Why are games so important to Millennials?
To answer this question, we need to look back in time, before the Millennials became adults. This generation grew up with sophisticated video game consoles in their homes. Adam Penenberg, a NYU professor who has researched and written extensively about culture and gaming, reports that Millennials spent up to 9,000 hours of their childhood playing games. This gameplay experience has profoundly shaped the way an entire generation sees themselves and the world they live in.
Playing games has given Millennials a fine appreciation of being in control of a situation. In a world where economic and political forces appear to conspire continually against a Millennial’s hopes and dreams, games offer a setting where making the right choices and executing a strategy well inevitably lead to success. The most popular games include a social element, which provides friends with a way to connect and develops team work and collaboration skills.
It’s important to know that games are not easy. Game designers make it difficult for players to advance through levels and beat the game. Gamers fail up to 80% of the time, yet keep playing – the challenge is a desirable part of the experience for them.
Where do games fit in ‘real life’?
Millennials range in age from 18-33. More than half are parents. The ‘real life’ experiences of Millennials include everything you’d expect – work, family, and community are all important. Schedules are full and technology is leveraged to its fullest; this generation is notorious for being always connected. The American Psychological Association reports that Millennials experience more stress and are less able to manage it than any other generation.
Games provide a respite from life’s stressors. Mobile games are popular in part because game play experiences can happen during brief intervals throughout the work day, commute, or other tasks. Increasing numbers of employers are incorporating elements of gamification into the workday, as are top retailers and brands. For a Millennial to go through an entire day without some sort of game being available to them would be an exceptional event: games are part of the Millennial landscape. That’s why, if you’re hoping to connect more effectively with Millennials, games need to be part of the equation.