Beyond the Screen: Latitude Study Profiles the New Gamers « Imagine That

With games like Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham City sometimes stumbling to make a sequel live up to expectations raised by a fabulously popular original, it’s important for game makers to keep abreast not of what the landscape is now but what it will be two years from now when their efforts hit the market.  Simply taking cues from the comics in matters of a costume can derail a promotional campaign before it’s even begun.  Understanding players and what they want rather than serving another company’s agenda is paramount.

Study Finds 95% of Gamers Want to Move Games out of the Screen, into the “Offline” World

Over the past few years, the popularity of mobile phones and tablets have contributed to an explosion in gaming by offering users the newfound ability to game anytime and anywhere. A study just released by the research consultancy, Latitude, offers a deeper-dive investigation into the new gaming landscape and the profile of tomorrow’s gamer, suggesting opportunities for both game developers and companies across industries.

The study included a Web survey of 290 smartphone owners between the ages of 15-54 who self-identified as “casual gamers,” with nearly half labeling themselves “game enthusiasts.” More than two-thirds said they expect to be gaming even more over the next few years.

A Video Portrait of the New Gamers

In conjunction with The Future of Gaming survey, Latitude conducted a series of expert interviews with both game makers and game enthusiasts, culminating in the production of a mini-documentary, The Future of Gaming: a Portrait of the New Gamers. This thought-provoking snapshot of the new gaming landscape serves up fresh, insider perspectives on how games have evolved, and who exactly is playing today — or will be tomorrow.

“Our interviews are meant to brings to life what we found in the study: that the new gamers are connected — often outgoing — people who live and play in the ‘real world,’ and who have a serious interest in bettering themselves and society as a whole,” says Dan Hemmerly-Brown, the video’s director and an Innovation Engineer at Latitude. “These conversations have even inspired Latitude to consider possibilities for building game elements into our own research techniques and technologies.”

Who are the New Gamers?

The study found that the stereotype of the reclusive gamer is outdated; this emerging demographic is social, heavily engaged with the “offline” world, and extremely goal-oriented — with a strong drive to improve themselves and the world around them. The new gamers are not constrained to any single platform, and have many different motivations for gaming in addition to just having fun [See ‘New Gamers — Infographic’]. Moreover, they expect that online games will continue to move out of the traditional screen environment, blending seamlessly with the “offline” world in new and engaging ways that go beyond just “checking in” with apps like Foursquare and SCVNGR.

“This study is part of our larger People Connected initiative, a series designed to offer a snapshot of intentionally small groups who are currently redefining what’s possible through the Web,” says Neela Sakaria, Senior Vice President of Latitude. “We go beyond just identifying changes in technology, delving deeply into technology’s potential impact on us as people — how we think, relate to each other, and approach our daily lives. Profiling dynamic user groups like ‘the new gamers’ gives us a window into how companies can not only develop meaningful tech experiences today but, more excitingly, grasp opportunities that are just on the horizon.”

The study pinpointed three key insights summarizing what the new gamers are expecting for the future:games-like-batman-arkham-city-stumble-if-they-dont-know-what-players-want

1. Games Go Beyond the Screen
Eager to get beyond their smartphone screens, gamers are actively seeking new levels of interactivity, more intuitive interfaces (e.g., gestural or telepathic controls), and personalization of the physical world that mirrors what’s possible online. Future games should register and respond to people as they exist in the offline world, which may mean using a player’s location, mood or stress level as metrics in a game, or allowing players to overlay virtual environments or information onto their actual surroundings, as with augmented reality.

Study participants expressed an overwhelming desire for immersive integration of digital content with traditionally offline spaces and activities:

-95 percent would like to see more games that do a better job of combining digital content with the real, physical world.

-90 percent agreed that current and future technologies will play a critical role in extending games beyond the traditional screen environment, moving them out into the real world.

“The gamers of tomorrow won’t be limited by platform or location. As technology becomes more seamlessly integrated with our lives, everyone will be a gamer, and the world around us will become the ultimate playing field,” explains Natalie Stehfest, a senior research analyst who led the study and who heads up Latitude’s qualitative research team. “Technology will allow us to measure — and, ultimately, improve — ourselves in the context of our daily activities and surroundings. Many people making small changes can have a large impact in society, and this study suggests that the new gamers are ready to ‘level-up,’and be challenged in this way.”

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