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Playing With Reality - Episode 6

What does the future of gaming hold? And how did this industry become bigger than the music industry and Hollywood combined? Find out on this week’s episode of Playing with Reality.

 

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Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that they had bought the gaming company Activision Blizzard for a reported $67.1 billion. This was a watershed moment for the industry, and one which signalled a cultural shift as gaming became a truly mainstream entertainment medium. But how did we get here? How did gaming move from a niche industry dominated by teenagers, to one attracting thousands of fans to live esports events and millions streaming online? In this episode of Playing with Reality, we explore these questions and more, looking at what the future holds as other industries get more invested in the gaming world.

 

Today’s Guests

 

Joost Van Dreunen

Joost Van Dreunen is an academic, entrepreneur, investor and strategic advisor to start-ups and financial funds active in video games. He teaches courses on video games at the NYU Stern School of Business, and has written books, including “One Up: Creativity, Competition, and the Global Business of Video Games.” Prior to this, Joost was the co-founder and CEO of SuperData Research, a games market research firm acquired by Nielsen in 2018.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/joostvandreunen/

 

Koen Schobbers

Koen is a professional gamer specialising in the racing game Trackmania. He later became a host for ESPN, a board member and vice chair of the Athletes, Players & Community Commission of the Global Esports Federation and the founder of Parents of Play, a charity which seeks to restore and strengthen parents’ relationships with their gaming children. He is also the author of the book 'My Gaming Child', and has been a professional speaker since 2016, including at events like TEDx.

https://koenschobbers.nl/

 

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Episode Transcript

[Music playing]

Menno: Gone are the days when kids playing video games were stuck in their rooms, playing for no one but themselves. Today, the world's biggest gamers are superstars, filling out stadiums and streaming to millions of fans online.

But how did this cultural shift happen? Was it money that changed gaming, or did gaming's new popularity bring the money in?

This week, I'm speaking to a pro-gamer, Koen Schobbers, and a gaming academic and entrepreneur, Joost van Dreunen, to find the answers.

Welcome back to Playing with Reality, with me Menno van Doorn, a new podcast series from Sogeti, the home for technology talent.

In January of 2022, there was a little news story in the gaming world, which grabbed people's attention (well, not that little), a $67.1 billion story, in fact. When tech giant Microsoft, bought the gaming company, Activision, the whole world sat up and noticed. It was a watershed moment for an industry which has long been trying to find its feet, among the more traditional entertainment mediums.

Predictions are that the gaming industry could swell to 321 billion, by 2026. But how did it reach those extraordinary numbers? Was there a flash point which changed things? And what has this newfound capital allowed the industry to develop?

I had so many questions, so I knew I needed to speak to someone who not only works in the gaming industry, but also has an academic perspective. I got in touch with Joost van Dreunen, an academic and entrepreneur who lives and breathes video games.

Not only does Joost teach at the NYU Stern School of Business, he's also a published author. Joost was also previously the co-founder and CEO of Super Data Research, a games market research firm acquired by Nielsen in 2018.

As such, he's got a really rounded view of the games industry and all the mechanics going on behind it. So, this is where we start. How did the gaming market get so big?

So Joost, welcome to the show.

Joost: Thank you for having me. It's always a pleasure.

Menno: And maybe if there are any baby boomers listening, can you give some ballpark figures to explain how big the gaming market really is? So, we know that maybe half of the population plays games, but could you be a little bit more specific, what's going on?

Joost: Sure. So, the video games industry as, I guess baby boomers would've known it back in the day, is no longer the same. It's gone through a massive transition, the most demonstrable one being the size of it.

So, over the last decade, the industry has grown from roughly $50 billion in global consumer spending to well over 200 billion in 2021. Which is, of course, a remarkable amount of money, and it's a remarkable growth trajectory, but it's also outperformed every other form of entertainment, like music, film, video. So, it's a remarkable background for an industry that it’s lived on the fringe.

So, the more cultural transition that has taken place is that gaming used to be this niche category of entertainment for people that were really into their video games, for people that lived in their parents' basement and ate a lot of potato chips.

And now, video games have become this popular form of mainstream entertainment where anybody and everybody has something on their phone, something on their tablet, something on their computer somewhere. And that transition I think, has been very, very quick and very unexpected for a lot of people.

We have 3 billion people, as you pointed out, that are roughly categorized as gamers, and either depending on the category of spending, you see sometimes people spend a few dollars a month, and sometimes it's hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month on their favorite game.

Menno: So, it's a lot of money. It's a lot of people. It started as fringe. So, when did it really take off? Was it the smartphone? What made it grow so fast?

Joost: There's a few different answers to that. So, my favorite answer is the fact that the games industry is very risk-averse.

So, traditionally you would have this physical product model where you'd spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing a game and a marketing campaign to go with it. And then you'd have a two-to-three-week window to sell as many copies as possible and hope that it works.

So, the industry became very conservative from a capital perspective. They would vet everything and really figure out that it doesn't make sense to manage the margins, so much as it is to go broke on the blockbusters. And that makes these companies very risk-averse, very financially conservative and consequently creatively kind of dull.

So, you see the emergence of a category of games that really focuses on young men, 18 to 34-year-olds, and they make games up until the early 2000s, really for that category alone.

Then they realize all of a sudden, that in fact, everybody likes to play. Playing to mammals comes instinctually. You don't have to teach them any rules, like they just like to do it.

And so, the games industry kind of woke up to the fact that a big part of their risk mitigation strategy was that they were ignoring everyone else as a result. So, digitalization in the early 2000s with the rollout of broadband and the popularization of the smartphone in 2007/8/9, that really opened their eyes to say, “Oh, there is lots of other people out here that we could also sell games to.”

And I think that that was a bit of a mental inertia on the games industry side, because people always wanted to play. They just weren't providing anything to that market. And then once the technology kind of caught up to this, and unlocked a lot of the potential, I think that's when the growth really started to take off.

Menno: I'm still thinking about this baby boomer listening to our conversation and maybe you could help our other listeners to talk a little bit about what kind of games are we playing? There's Esport, people watching other people's play, so there's so many things going on. What are the most interesting categories according to you?

Joost: That's a good question. So, if you understand the transition from a product to a service model, where you don't just buy a game at the store and then put it in a console, but you log on and create an account in a feed game, where you eventually build a community of friends.

And it becomes the place where you spend your time and hang out after your homework's done, that's where you log onto things and just meet your buddies and you go with your little avatars in the game, you're going to go on some adventure, whatever. Or maybe you have some competition.

What you are effectively doing is foregrounding the social aspect of it. And the affordance of internet-based gameplay is really that you can now have multiplayer games. You can just play with millions of people out there, in the same way that other people sit on Facebook and sit on Twitter, just to connect with this group of people.

So, that's a big difference where once you accept or understand that component, then very quickly, you start to see this stratification of different activities. So, you have the competitive aspect, as you point out, Esports. That's really just really cool players that are really good.

And they provide a few things. One of them is they have live events, not so much during the pandemic, obviously, but that's coming back. I would go to Barclays Stadium here in Brooklyn, not too far from my house, 5,000 people going nuts seeing two of these teams try to beat each other. And it has the same energy as a regular sports ball event.

At the same time, it's like these people have never been able to celebrate and share with others out in the open their favorite thing to do, which is some game. So, that's the live events.

Then you also have live streaming on things like Twitch, where you see these really good players, or just really fun, interesting, charismatic people play games. So, that's an offshoot of the gaming industry that has only recently emerged. And it's just one of several things that we now see.

[Music playing]

Menno: The communities which have grown around gaming is probably the thing which truly differentiates it from other forms of entertainment. The rise of platforms like Twitch and Discord have allowed players to truly bond, chat, and collaborate with each other in a much more immersive way than in other mediums.

But there's another thing that Joost mentioned, which has taken these communities to a new level; Esports, because professional gamers are now big business. I wanted to find out more about how you become an Esport champion.

So, I knew I had to find a real one in the flesh. Step forward, Koen Schobbers, a professional gamer turned TV host for ESPN, about all things gaming.

Alongside his professional gamer status, Koen is a board member of the Global Esports Federation and an advocate for child's welfare in gaming, which is why he founded Parents of Play, a charity which seeks to restore and strengthen parents' relationships with their gaming children.

We talked a lot about his roots into Esports, so I'll let him tell his own story of how he got there.

So, maybe we should start, Koen, with this question; how does someone become a professional gamer?

Koen: Well, I think that in the past, options were limited compared to nowadays because it was not very well-known as a career opportunity or a job, let's say.

Menno: In the past?

Koen: So, in the past, when I started, so 2006/7, I started playing TruckMania when I was 14-years-old in 2006 — TruckMania is a racing game. And in 2015 I got scouted basically to play for a professional organization with a contract and everything that comes with it.

So, basically, what happens in the game in my case, is that I started to play tournaments with an amateur team. And because I played those events, professional teams saw my performance and they saw me increasingly becoming better over the year.

And then eventually, for them, it was a reason to test me out under a trial period, as we call it. So, then for a couple of matches or one event, one tournament, I'm going to play with the professional organization and they test me and see if I can keep up. And that was how I went from amateur to pro. But nowadays, there's a bit more opportunities.

Menno: So, before we dive in that, can you define what Esport is compared to gaming? Is there a difference?

Koen: Yeah. So, gaming is playing a video game on any digital device; phone, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, PC, it doesn't matter.

While Esports is playing competitively in a top tier environment, so against other professional players, very often with teams backing them up with contracts, with fans, with prize pools, with hardware to be won.

So, it's the same as going from, “Hey, I'm an amateur football player, soccer player,” to being a professional soccer player. You're still playing soccer, but it's just the environment and the professionality that is changing around you.

Menno: Can you give me maybe some ballpark figures about maybe certain Esport games? So, just to understand how big this is.

Koen: Yeah. So, let's talk with gaming and get into it. So, the gaming industry is four and a half times bigger than the movie industry and the revenue that's being earned. And 8.5 times bigger than the music industry and the revenue that's being earned.

We're currently as an industry around USD $200 billion in revenue a year. Yearly growth is about between 8 and 13% year on year, talking about the gaming industry.

Now, the Esports industry, which again is the professional gaming, the competitive gaming industry is a niche of the gaming industry. Now, the Esports industry is about now a 1 to 1.5 billion industry. And when looking at events and prize pools, what you just asked me, the biggest prize pool we ever had is comparable with Wimbledon this year, which was 40 million.

$40 million was the prize pool last year at the international and the international is the world championships of Dota 2, which is a five versus five game, where you have to destroy the base of the opponent. And we currently have the Fortnite World Cup that is being played at the moment with millions of people observing those as well.

So, when you look at the industry compared to sports, we might be smaller than the most known sports like soccer and basketball and the very well-known traditional sports, but we're getting there, it's growing.

Menno: It's growing. And so, are you. So, you have been playing first and doing television, but you are living in this world of children playing games, Esports gaming. So, what can we learn from your observations about the culture?

Koen: When I was a teenager, like 14/15-years-old, and I played a game and I happened to be very good and talented, and out of nowhere I was a professional. And then through being a professional gamer, I now work in the industry. Like everything went very smooth, but it was never a career option.

But eventually, the industry started growing and I kind of grew with the industry, because of the position I had. I had the luxury of opportunities coming to me as well, and being at the right place at the right time at certain moments.

But nowadays, when you look at youth nowadays, compared to in the past, in the past, I got bullied because I was a pro-gamer, by classmates. Can you imagine? Like nowadays everyone, “Oh, I want to be a pro-gamer” and I have fans and all that stuff. But in the past, it was different.

And nowadays, it's a true career opportunity. Like you have kids that invite gaming with open arms, they're like, “This is really cool. I want to be that pro-gamer. I want to be that influencer. I want to work in the industry as a coach, manager.” Yeah.

[Music playing]

Menno: This cultural shift is such an interesting turn for the gaming industry. As Koen says, for too long, gamers were stereotyped in a negative, harmful way.

But now, being a gamer has become an aspiration for kids, and the capital behind it has followed, in turn. Big business and gaming are now fused together. We've already heard that it's a vastly bigger industry than Hollywood, and now, other corporations are positioning themselves to be involved in this industry.

I went back to Joost to find out some more about this new confluence between gaming and the corporate world. As ever, it leads us down the path of the metaverse.

What fascinates me is that you see corporations like Microsoft stepping into gaming. So, they buy Activision Blizzards, for instance, Activision Blizzards for 70 billion. Unity, a gaming company is now partnering with our company, Sogeti and my ultimate question for you is, will it blend and where will it take us?

Joost: With regards to the question of whether or not it will blend, I'm sure it will, but here's the problem; so, I come back to this and have written about this a few times, is like, is Mark Zuckerberg really the best architect of the metaverse?

I have a lot of respect for him for a few reasons. I've never met the man personally, but I hang out with enough people that do know him and he's not afraid to take these chances.

He did bet the firm when he rebranded Facebook to Meta and he's going all out. His share price is in the toilet from, what is it? 325 a share to like 125 bucks in the course of a year, so-

Menno: So, what you're saying, you like his boldness?

Joost: I like his boldness, and I think that that's kind of move fast and break things. Well, that's what he's doing. He's breaking things. I don't think that this is the magic. This is not the Disney that's going to give life to the mouse.

Menno: Okay. Who is the Disney?

Joost: I think it's an Epic Games. I think it's a game company that's going to find a vein of social interaction that's so rich, that they're going to just gradually build more functionality around it.

And then that becomes ultimately, some kind of online theme park, some kind of digital version of whatever, Six Flags or Disneyland, Paris. And we're going to hang out in there and have a good time.

And then they start adding different monetization strategies. Maybe there's like a fun corporate event that we could have our meetings not in like a dull gray box, but we could do it in some kind of colorful setting that's kind of tongue in cheek, but more entertaining. And in between, we have opportunities to socialize with coworkers that we never really see, because we all work remote now.

So, I think gaming is really the way to look at this. And particularly in companies like Epic Games that have not just the capacity to come up with cool gaming experiences like Fortnite and build a social net around it, but they also have the intellectual and the background with infrastructure like the Unreal Engine.

And you point out Unity, I think that that's the closest company to them in that sense, that they are doing an excellent job for them.

Menno: So, do you think will the gaming world and the corporate world, the industries I mean, in the end blend? Will Roblox Cloud services be provided to companies? What do you think? Will there be a battle or will there be more mergers? What’s your take on that?

Joost: So, it’s before you see a big wave of change, you usually see an ebbing of the water. Right now, what you see is a consolidation in the games industry, which a friend of mine [inaudible 00:18:17] in London, where he’s a professor, he studies this stuff and is like, generally speaking, right before a mass technological change, you see a moment of consolidation because large companies are starting to winterize their business.

They're going to buy up intellectual property, and they're going to insulate themselves from whatever comes next. They're not sure what's going to be the new technology. We don't know what the actual version of the metaverse will be next year, 2 years, 10 years from now. But we know that it's going to change.”

And so, you just hold onto the things that you do know, which is like, well, intellectual property, that's a safe bet. If I have Activision Blizzard as Microsoft, I'm safer for my revenue stream.

So, I believe that we're seeing this ebbing right now, this consolidation at the moment, and everybody's trying to figure out how to build these communities around their businesses, around their assets. And I think that that's going to be the baseline for what we currently call the metaverse. Like we need to facilitate all that.

And so, we need to build the infrastructure for it. We need to decide very rudimentary questions as to does the processing of all this technology take place locally on my computer or in the cloud?

And as we move forward, we're going to see different interpretations. My guess is — and I say this not because I have only spent my life looking at video games, but I believe that there's a lot of answers that are formulated there, purely because it's an innovative category in that sense, and it's very tech heavy.

So, will it blend? Absolutely. But I think the manifestations will be very different than what we're expecting today.

[Music playing]

Menno: Will everything blend in the end? Will gaming and the corporate use of the metaverse turn into the same space? I think Joost is right when he says that our current conception of the gaming metaverse is unlikely to be in its final form, that will shift and evolve as the market and technology develops.

I asked Koen the same question, does he see the link between gaming and the corporate world growing stronger? And how will this shift affect the way in which young consumers interact with it?

How do you see business getting involved in this gaming world like Roblox, Minecraft, or we've seen Pokémon Go, of course, Fortnite. What are companies doing over there?

Koen: In the end, it's marketing. It's about being relevant for newer generations. And if you, as a business, if you want to be sustainable and you want to be alive in 5, 10, 20 years, you still want to exist as a business, you have to adjust with your environment. You have to know what the younger generations are growing up with, and you got to make use of those tools in order to position your business.

So, in other words, businesses that nowadays are not visible in an online environment where the younger generation is, like in game, in maybe metaverse, in virtual reality, online; if you don't keep up with your environment, then in 5 to 10 years, you won't have a business anymore.

Menno: Is that because of the eyeballs? So, that they understand that your brands?

Koen: It's knowing what's happening in your environment. Like the same with Videoland and Netflix. Videoland was selling these DVDs and CD-ROMs or CDs, in the past physically.

And then Netflix came and they do everything digitally because the environment changed to digital innovations, and Netflix took the chance and Videoland with all the money they had, went bankrupt because no one was going to the store anymore to buy a CD.

And I can see this happening as like right now, that businesses that are not evolving with the environment and they don't see what's happening in the environment of younger generations, which also affects their business, they have to adjust because else there might not be a business in 5 to 10 years.

Menno: So, it's also about keeping up with the culture, understanding the culture. So, what's going on there.

Koen: Yeah. What's relevant, what platforms they're using, what games are important to them now, but also, what is the general idea of where the world is moving towards, like staying up to date with news, not necessarily what's happening in the world, like what you see at any TV show.

But just generally, like okay, are we becoming more digital as a human species? What’s happening with the metaverse? Is it already clear where it's going to be, what it is, how it's going to develop? What companies are involved? Cryptos, NFTs, like all that stuff. You at least have to know a little bit about what's happening. And the best way to know is by asking children.

Menno: So, let's think about how will these young children that are playing now, how will they consume work and learn differently than other generations, earlier generations?

Koen: Yeah, I like that question. First of all, a lot more digital because they're growing up virtually and in reality. And I think there was an actor, the one of The Matrix, I forgot his name, but he has a great story, great example on YouTube where he spoke about The Matrix is fake. It's not real.

And he was talking to children about reality versus fake virtual environments. And the kid was like, “But I don't care.” And he was like, “What do you mean you don't care if it's real or fake?” And she's like, “I don't care, as long as I enjoy what I consume.”

Menno: Yeah, I think it was about the child of the director of the movie, that actually-

Koen: Yes, yes. Correct. Yeah. For dinner. Yeah.

Menno: So, can we conclude that is this just one person or you think there's more of them?

Koen: I think it's just the whole generation. Of course, there's always going to be people that are not really involved with their environment. They might be a bit old school, let's say, also when growing up, even when they're younger, depending on the way they're being raised by their parents and the rules, different environment, different outcome.

But I do believe that instead of meeting each other in the past, because we didn't have mobile phones, so the only way to communicate was actually meeting each other.

Nowadays, you have WhatsApp and you have Discord, and you have video calls. And like you play with your friends from your house in game, like at school, you're actually saying, “Hey, let's meet after school in game. I'll see you at 6:00 PM and we're going to play from our own houses.”

So, it's like we're still meeting, we're still having fun together, but not in reality, but in a virtual environment. And I think that well, the way the youth is adapted to this environment will only help them in the future when finding a job and evolving the next online or virtual business environments and stuff.

[Music playing]

Menno: When it comes to gaming, it's the youth who are defining the future. Digital natives will take on new meaning. It therefore, makes total sense that companies should be putting their energy into ensuring they are positioning themselves as the forefront of it.

But will this be a future where Discord and Epic Games take over Meta and Amazon, as the big players in the tech space? Will Twitch become the new WhatsApp? It's probably too early to tell, gaming as communication and community is here already, but what can we learn about this for the future?

I asked Joost for his thoughts. Let's dream a little bit 20/30 years ahead, what would you like to see happening as the future of entertainment?

Joost: So, if we're dreaming, I can be romantic.

Menno: Exactly.

Joost: And so, I don't have to base this on any fact or figures. I studied classic languages for a while when I was younger. And there is a different mindset that goes with the way that oral culture used to exist.

Oral culture used to be not just, “Oh, I use meter to remember things. I'm going through whatever, the odyssey in its original style because here's how I pneumatically remember the storyline of what the characters were.”

But there was, in performing a poem in ancient Greece, for instance, like it wasn't just reciting, it was, you would become the character that you were reciting.

So, the disappearance between you as the person and the story that you tell, that's sort of typically described as oral culture. Then comes industrialization and a whole bunch of other developments over centuries, where we separate effectively people from that type of experience, where we put them in a stadium and separate them from this box on the stage where the musicians and the performers are. And you are just consuming and sitting in the dark absorbing this.

That separation from who we are as people and how we express ourselves, for all these reasons, not necessarily negative ones, but just that transition — I think hopefully, and that's my future dream for this, is a reversal of it where we become much more intuitive and sort of inclined with each other to share, but also much more capable of expressing freely.

Rather than me reading a book or listening to a piece of information somewhere. Participation, I think is always the highest form of that. And in doing so, you kind of have to remove the boundaries. And so, I want to see a return to oral culture in a digital format. That would be a fun thing for me to see.

Menno: Hope and fear are related. So, when you talk about the future and dreams, could be a nightmare. How do we guarantee that the metaverse will not become an awful place or a metaverse that doesn't suck? What could be the guidelines? What's needed for that?

Joost: That's an excellent question. So, my fear I think is the same as yours, in that as we watch this new thing come up, that we're going to make the same mistakes we have in the past. That we have a naive interpretation on the companies that build it and their long-term interests, that we have a naive understanding of like how it will impact education.

So, the metaverse might attach itself to all these great ideals and then of course, deliver the opposites. So, the naive understanding, I think is something that we need to be weary of when we formulate this metaverse, this new technological cycle.

Menno: So, what is needed to guarantee that it's a world that we would like to live in because it's actually a world, we spend so many hours on our screens.

Joost: I think the realization is not that the metaverse impact us, it's like we impact the metaverse and by metaverse, you could just swap it out for any technology. But it's so easy to always sort of put all the responsibility on this new gizmo and say, “Well, that's going to solve the things.”

No, no, it's on us. And so, my observation with the metaverse, for instance, immediately from the start is that my colleague Matthew Paul, he puts together this ETF and it's like 41 companies that are going to lead the first generation of the metaverse. And it’s all Nvidia type companies, and it's Microsoft.

And if you do really simple math that you find that out of those 41 companies, there's only one female CEO. The rest are all men. And so, that's a little limited. Maybe we should have a more diverse set of voices chiming in on what this should be or could be or how we should build this.

And I feel that that's kind of the dystopian part, is like we need to be better about who we invite to the table from now on, not 10 years from now when it's built. And then we hire a diversity manager after the fact, which is what a lot of companies like to do.

[Music playing]

Menno: This is the kind of positive interpretation of the future that we like to hear on Playing with Reality. Too often, we see ourselves as passive observers, as new waves of technology hit.

But this is wrong. We are the ones creating these online realities, meaning we are the ones in the driving seat. And this becomes especially important when we think about gaming's link with the youth, because allowing children to passive of observers in gaming and VR spaces could have some pretty worrying effects.

I asked Koen about this because his work with families of children who play, has gone a long way to addressing these issues.

What would you say that they learn that's of value for them for the rest of their life?

Koen: Well, there's many skills and also, myself, that I've learned. So, of course, first of all, language; virtual worlds have no boundaries. I can play with anyone anywhere, at any time.

So, you get in touch with different cultures. Many younger people have friends all across the world. They don't care if they're Asian, American, African, whatever it is, from Oceania, Indonesia, as long as they have fun, they respect each other in real or virtual.

But there's also skill sets like leadership and strategy, and planning and tactics and finding your position in a group when you play games in a team environment.

Menno: You started this initiative called Parents of Play, which is to restore or strengthen the bonds with gaming childs and their parents.

Koen: Yeah, absolutely. Based on the experience that I had, especially with my mom — like my dad was more invested in gaming technology. He has a great PC himself. He loves that stuff. So, he was basically standing on the virtual sideline and keeping up with what I was doing.

But my mom, not so much. We had a lot of discussions, frustrations, we didn't understand each other. So, that was quite difficult. And I see it a lot in real life as well.

But because of that experience that I especially had with my mom and the difficulties we had in our life and the years at that moment, like a couple of years’ time — eventually, once we got out of that period and we started to talk and understand each other's perspective …

But then at that moment in time, the gaming industry was growing so much from 2013 all the way till today, that families around us started to struggle with what we already struggled with.

So, we already had the experience and we could pull lessons from what we endured and teach others on how to cope with gaming children.

So, in 2016, I decided to give a workshop to parents, organized it myself, and rendered a room, and there we go. And to my surprise, it was full and it was actually a lot of fun. And from that moment onwards, I decided to well, organize more workshops. Eventually, it became a platform and very soon, a YouTube channel.

Menno: Do you think there's a difference in safeguarding children in a 3D environment, wearing an Oculus versus just behind your screens?

Koen: I do think that when we look at children playing VR games, that we do have to pay attention to what they see in a virtual environment because they might experience the virtual world as reality.

The experience they get in a virtual world might impact them in the real world. Like they might get a trauma or they might get PTSD or they might be scared of the dark or they won't sleep anymore because they saw something in a virtual environment. So, I do think it's important to know what they're doing in a virtual space.

Menno: So, there's some extra risks. You would say?

Koen: The risks are quite similar, it's just that parents should realize that what they experience in a virtual world is going to impact their child a lot more, because of the very engaged experience that the kids get. Everything is multiplied by 10 basically compared to a traditional monitor.

[Music playing]

Menno: Okay, thank you Koen. Normally, we end by saying let's meet in the metaverse. I would like to know if we would meet each other in a metaverse, what would be your favorite game that we could play together?

Koen: I would choose probably the most known game, which is spoken about a lot is Roblox. Of course, many people think it's only for kids, but the stuff that's happening in that game is really impressive.

Menno: Thank you so much Koen, and let's meet in Roblox pretty soon.

Koen: Let's meet in the metaverse. Yes, thank you.

Menno: Koen’s concern for the welfare of kids growing up gaming is a great way to end. He's been through it, so knows the cost and the stress that it can entail.

I've been through it myself. I was addicted to Tetris long time ago. It didn't disturb the relationship with my parents, by the way, but my relationship with reality. In the end, I saw cubes everywhere.

But this shouldn't overlook the benefits that gaming can bring, because the stereotype that have surrounded gaming for too long are there to be debunked. Gaming now, is about community. It's the like-minded people finding their tribe online, sharing something they love and creating their worlds together.

This is something that corporations moving into gaming will have to bear in mind, but do it right, and they will reap the benefits of what is one of the most exciting industries in technology and entertainment today.

That's all for today. Thanks so much to you for listening, and thanks so much to Joost and Koen for their incredible insights behind the scenes of the gaming world.

[Music playing]

If you enjoyed this episode and want to let us know, please do get in touch on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. And you can find us at Sogeti. And don't forget to subscribe and review Playing with Reality on your favorite podcast app, as it really helps others to find our show.

In two weeks, it will be our final episode of this first series of Playing with Reality, and we'll be ending it with a retrospective on trends of 2022 in technology. Do join us again next time on Playing with Reality.

Contact
  • Menno van Doorn
    Menno van Doorn
    Director of VINT
    +31 6 51 27 09 85
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