A few years ago, if you’d asked the average person to describe their perception of a computer gamer, the images you’d probably get would be “teenager, bit of a loner, doesn’t get out much, low social skills” or similar negative perceptions.
This stereotyped image is slowly being dismantled. In part, this can be explained by the way the content and sophistication of the games themselves have developed. The quality of video and computer games has improved rapidly from the early, 2D “platformers”, both in terms of the technological determinants such as the graphics, speed and smoothness of the simulation, and of the overall content of games, with strategy and problem solving augmenting, or in some cases replacing, simple repetitive reflex testing.
Perhaps a more important determinant, however, is the way in which game playing, and the technology which supports it, has developed over the last five to ten years. It is the rise of the internet and social game playing which has arguably had the greatest impact on stripping away the old negative stereotyping of computer games as a solitary occupation for dysfunctional teenage introverts.
While most games consoles allow the user to play interactively, the growth of internet browser games has allowed users the freedom to develop fully the potential of game playing in a social context.
Although, for the most part, available free to use and requiring only the user’s normal and unmodified internet browser as the host, browser games sacrifice nothing in terms of levels of quality and sophistication by comparison with their console-bound cousins. They also allow users a substantial degree of freedom to interact with other users.
This not only enables users to play against each other, it also gives freedom to co-operate, form alliances and develop strategies in a way which would have been thought impossible a few years ago, in some ways echoing the contemporaneous growth in internet social networking.
The development and improvement in the level of quality and underpinning infrastructure of internet gaming has brought with it a gradual change in the profile of the gamers themselves and, to some extent, in the way in which the product is consumed. On-line gaming is no longer entirely the province of (largely male) teenagers and younger twenty-somethings.
The demographic profile of browser game players is now much more broad-spectrum, enjoyed by both sexes and all age groups. In some ways, one might expect those who grew up with the first generation of computer games, and who are now in their forties-plus to increase the average age of active gamers as time goes by.
This is borne out by the mini-boom in retro gaming with at least one company providing browser game versions of “classics” which first saw the light of day thirty-five years ago. This factor alone can’t explain the growth in popularity of browser games among the 30-50 age group.
Perhaps a more important determinant is the accessibility of browser games with a laptop, tablet or smartphone and an internet signal being all that’s required. This has led to a noticeable shift in the way in which browser games are played compared to patterns associated with console based gaming, with many users playing in short sessions, often when other tasks or work duties allow - or when the boss isn’t looking!
For the ultimate in online games, try Dark Orbit, which is currently one of Bigpoint's most popular browser games - and no wonder! Where else can you have the excitement of challenges ranging from graphically brilliant space fights, to mining the depths of outer space, or exploring new worlds. As always, you have the support of an enormous online gaming community to add to the fun..