Bad Girl, Good Business

Play Time: From Nice to Vice (The Business of Fun #9)

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People love to play. 

Yesterday we wrote about trends in toys and games and their role in learning. How you play says a lot about your personality. The media has moved on from its obsession with Pokemon Go and is now covering Rio…these games are signs of the times and a nice break from the real-life drama of the U.S. elections.

Gaming takes many forms. 

From Colorforms and Mr. Potato Head, the world has moved on to technology-enabled games. The old fashioned pinball machine was joined by PacMan (and its variations). Personal computing led to a game boom…from disk to web…from black-and-white space games like Asteroids to action games like Prince of Persia and Frogger to Grand Theft Auto to elaborate journeys and simulation games like Myst to Farmville and Sims. Thanks to my friends at The Platypus Institute, I learned that games like Call of Duty even train your brain to learn faster, according to an article by Futurity. Although playing cards still exist, I often see people playing online Solitaire. Don’t like to play by yourself? The web eventually led to virtual clubs where you could play everything from Words With Friends to Minecraft.

Although it wasn’t yet called Gamification, games rapidly began to play a role in education. I remember buying my kids the Oregon Trail disks way back when. Games have found their way into corporations.  More than 70% of Global 2000 organizations have at least one gamified application. People like learning to be fun. They love scoring points. And, if they get the highest score or “win” they feel accomplished. It’s that simple.

Winning and losing.

Games are now big business. I’m not talking just about addictive Bananagrams or the sales of the most popular video games of all time. PS2 has sold more than 155 million units since its introduction.

In the 1950s, off-track-betting began its slow trot into New York. Now, $1 billion is wagered annually at 68 locations. Lottery ticket sales nationally comprise about $70 billion and boost local economies. But why just bet close to home?

Destination gaming is thriving as the adult version of summer camp (except instead of making tie-dye tee shirts and S’mores, grown-ups are getting drunk, seeing shows, and risking their kids’ college funds). With 42 million visitors a year, Las Vegas has become a destination formore than 21,000 business conferences annually and gaming revenue in Vegas totals a whopping $6 billion. Gambling is heavily regulated at both a state and national level.

Technology and TV shows have had a tremendous impact on casinos. (Yes…there is even an “Orange is the New Black” slot machine. I once took my team at MasterCard to Mohegan Sun to view new and creative technologies and merchandising. I worked at Reed Exhibitions just as the company launched the Global Gaming Expo (G2E). I speak at various trade shows in Atlantic City and Las Vegas and although the extent of my gambling is the occasional quarter dropped into a slot machine at the airport (in the hopes I’ll win enough to buy some Quest Bars), I marvel at the psychology and staging of casinos. They are also great places to gather blog fodder! (You can find my posts here, here, and here!) New casinos are replacing older ones on the Las Vegas Strip, visitors from Asia abound, and skill-based and social gaming are on the upswing, according to this trend report. I’m speaking at interbike in Las Vegas in September., so watch this space for more casino chatter (as well as bicycle trends). Please feel free to subscribe to receive all my blogs!

One thing remains clear, game play is part of our culture and it’s here to stay. Perhaps your passion is the tame Bingo game at your place of worship or one of these New York venues. Maybe you have a secret addiction to Candy Crush Sage or Fruit Ninja. Or this $4k Ms Pacman unit is on your holiday list for Xmas/Hanukkah. Some of us like word games. Others like puzzles. We range from Scrabblers to high rollers. We all need a little challenge and fun in our lives. Game on!

What’s YOUR favorite game these days?


One Comment

  1. […] approximately $212 billion in sales in the United States. What better chaser to a blog about the vices of Vegas than with stats, facts, and trends about the business of […]


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