Warning: What you are about to read will blow your mind, or at least change the way you look at how human beings spend their leisure time. It will also serve as the beginning of a manifesto – a public declaration of my beliefs on the future of the gaming industry, and the foundation of some very exciting projects that are in the works.
Everyone is talking about the future of work – how machines, automation, and AI are going to replace us. However, there is little focus on the future of fun. If we accept that the machines are going to replace us, that seems like an odd omission, considering that the implication of machines/AI doing all the work for us means we should have a lot more time for fun.
So let’s start by laying the groundwork. For fans of the show Star Trek, this part is easy. You all know what a holodeck is. For those who don’t watch the show, a holodeck is a special room where a person can create a virtual world and interact with that world as if it were real. There are literally no limits inside a holodeck. One second, you are skiing and having a snowball fight, and the next you are Sherlock Holmes in a crime story set in the distant past. Everything created on the holodeck is completely indistinguishable from reality.
So why are we talking about holodecks and what does that have to do with the future of fun? Well follow me for a moment. Today, the VR (Virtual Reality) experience is limited. It’s getting better, but it’s lacking in some key areas. There’s no sense of touch or physical interaction with the environment, no sense of smell, mobility is limited, etc. Even then, there are times where I’m using a current generation VR headset and my brain forgets that I’m in a virtual world (i.e. putting down virtual ping pong paddles on a virtual table and realizing I actually dropped the controllers on my hardwood floors).
Now imagine a world 20 or 30 years from now where that VR experience has improved dramatically. Imagine a world where technology has solved many of the current VR shortcomings. If I can convince you that at some point in the future, technology will enable virtual worlds that are completely indistinguishable from the real world in every way (sight, smell, taste, touch, sound, mobility, etc.), then what does that mean for how human beings spend their time?
My core belief is that this will fundamentally change how humans have fun. Why would you put your kid in a football league where they can get hurt when they could instead play football in a virtual world and not get hurt but still get the exact same experience and physical benefit? Why would you watch a sporting event on TV or pay to be there in person when instead you could watch it in a virtual world and always have the best seat in the house? Why would you go to a real concert with ten thousand people when you could go to a virtual concert with ten million people and everyone can have backstage access? These are just a few examples, but these virtual worlds essentially consume/replace all of entertainment (music, movies, TV), sports, etc. Even sex (and most of the adult industry) and travel would become more compelling or more convenient in a virtual world.
Furthermore, there is a significant shift in attention happening that is generational in nature. Take your average 13 year old today. If you ask them if they’d rather play soccer or play Fortnite, the answer would most likely be Fortnite. If you ask them if they’d rather watch soccer or watch Fortnite, the answer would most likely be Fortnite. The average 13 year old likely does not have a Facebook account, and spends more time on gaming (playing or watching) than on social media in general. Games like Fortnite and the virtual worlds they create are becoming the social networks for this new generation. These virtual worlds are where kids are meeting to socialize and share experiences.
These virtual worlds will essentially be a form of gaming, and thus gaming becomes the future of all fun and social networks. I laugh when I hear people talk about gaming/esports being a multi-billion dollar industry. The future of gaming is a multi-trillion dollar industry. Gaming essentially becomes the largest industry on the planet.
More wealth will be created in gaming over the next few decades than in any other industry (with healthcare the only legitimate competitor). We can argue about the exact timelines. Is it 15 years? 20 years? 30 years? There are technological hurdles that need to be solved. But the outcome is inevitable. It’s not probable. It’s not possible. It is inevitable.
More wealth will be created in gaming over the next few decades than in any other industry.
Unfortunately, the world of gaming is filled with mostly gamers who built the industry into what it is today. The barriers to get in were low because everyone could play games and it was a cottage industry. There are very few smart investors or experienced operators. Very few who can actually create, add value, and be visionaries to drive the industry forward. And they are fiercely protecting the little village they’ve built, resisting change or sound advice.
But change is coming and no one can stop it. The next decade will radically transform fun, entertainment and leisure and set the stage for the inevitable outcome of gaming dominance. There is a multi-trillion dollar industry at stake. Stay tuned.