Video games sales booming, academic says
The latest video games are more popular than new blockbuster movies, they are not necessarily blood and gore fests and more than a third of devotees are women, new research has found.
Griffith University professor of marketing Frank Alpert said after a relatively short history, video games now regularly outmuscle movies with the latest offerings often outperforming new hyped up films in opening week sales.
"It's only been around for about 25 years yet the entertainment software industry now outsells the movie box office," Prof Alpert said.
Prof Alpert said video game sales would outstrip CD sales in a few years time, mainly due to the growth of internet downloading of music.
But despite the massive popularity of video games, Prof Alpert was "amazed" at the lack of literature and knowledge about the industry while researching his paper entitled Entertainment Software: Suddenly Huge, Little Understood.
"A lot of older people didn't grow up with it, don't play it and don't understand it. A lot of a younger people aren't yet in a position to write about it," said Los Angeles-born academic, who came to Australia 11 years ago.
Prof Alpert found in his studies that the average age of a game player was 33 and women comprised 38 per cent of players.
Although action games remain the No.1 sellers, the design and production companies are trying to encourage more women into the market.
A prime example is the Will Wright-designed game The Sims, which simulates the day-to-day activities of one or more virtual people in a suburban household.
"It's the most successful game brand of all time because it appeals to everyone," Prof Alpert explained.
"There's no violence. It's a far broader audience because it's about human relationships."
The next step in the game's evolution is the Spore game, which simulates the complete history and future of life. A player can mould a species across several generations, growing it from a single-celled organism into a more complex animal.
It should be released in May next year.
"People say we just get more and more of the same things in sequels, as we do in movies, because that's the safe option," Prof Alpert said.
"It takes courage to be creative and push the boundary to create new genres."
Prof Alpert plans to approach the Queensland government in an attempt to secure funding for further research into the video games industry.