Over the last couple of decades, playing video games has emerged from the perceived realms of computer geeks and nerds, going on to become a firmly mainstream part of modern society and popular culture. Of course, the rise to prominence of gaming has also been fuelled by technological innovations, changing the ways we communicate and entertain ourselves. Read about video games in Australia here.
Perhaps keener than many other countries around the world, Australia has embraced the digital age and immersed itself in the thriving culture that surrounds gaming. But how did this happen and what drives the success down under?
Established in Society and Popular Culture
Australians have always enjoyed being engaged and entertained, largely thanks to the very nature and landscape of the vast country itself, imbuing the populace with a rich sense of adventure and keen desire to explore new realms of possibilities. And long before the video games culture of today emerged, they have always been keen to embrace diverse leisure opportunities.
During the colonial era and like many frontier countries, new settlers arrived with many of their own cultural pastimes and hobbies, ranging from emerging sports to simple card games. Likewise, the sense of risk versus reward has always been deeply embedded in Australian culture. Playing poker or blackjack was quickly popular in pubs and clubs, and by the late 1800s the first gambling machines had arrived.
From the 1960s, electronic gaming machines (EGMs) have evolved along two different paths. Often known as fruit machines in the UK or slots in the US, gambling machines brought spinning reels to the Australian masses, where they became known as “pokies” in the local vernacular. Meanwhile, video arcade gaming started becoming popular in the 1970s, opening up an entirely new realm of interactive digital entertainment, starting out with simple titles like Space Invaders or PacMan and others.
Both paths increasingly merged from the late 1990s, when the first online casino gaming sites began to appear. Aussie gamers can easily find out more about the latest iterations, having now evolved to feature thousands of games. These dovetailed with the growing trend for gaming via the internet, influenced by massively multiplayer online (MMO) titles, which made it possible for gamers to connect from practically every corner of the globe, including those in Australia.
Increased Merging of Diverse Entertainment Spheres
Arguably quicker than most countries around the world, Australians have swiftly embraced the latest innovations and technological advances, particularly when it comes to intriguing digital ways to entertain themselves. Akin to elsewhere, the popularity of gaming has blossomed, while streaming services are diverse and widespread, providing viewers with instant access to hit movies and TV shows.
Recently, statistics published for the uptake of streaming services provide interesting reading, highlighting that in 2023, more than 62% of Australian homes are subscribed to at least one streaming platform. Disney+ is currently the most popular, followed by others like Stan or Netflix, but some are merging their spheres of influence.
Alongside their Amazon Prime streaming content service, the company has also launched Amazon Games, bringing users access to the latest video game releases and in-game content for some of the most popular online games. This is undoubtedly a conscious marketing decision for the company, especially in key territories like Australia, where participation is high for both spheres of entertainment.
Furthermore, the production of TV shows and movies is often deeply rooted in associations with video games content. Most of the major cinematic productions are usually accompanied by video game releases, which form an increasingly important part of the overall marketing effort. But this is a digital entertainment door that also swings in both directions, with numerous movies also based on some of the most iconic games, including Super Mario now enjoying newfound cinematic appeal.
Innovation and Creativity
But what actually underpins the prominence of video games in Australian culture and society? Well, the digital age has genuinely transformed the technology landscape Down Under. Indeed, such is the influence of video games today, national and regional governments across the country have recognised the gaming industry, conscious it can help to drive the economy and produce jobs.
Educational institutions also provide in-depth games development courses, helping to inspire some of the most creative and innovative talents, while Australia is also keen to recruit the best and brightest gaming industry professionals from overseas. This has led to a thriving niche sector, ideally placed geographically between the biggest international markets in the West and Asia.
What’s more, given the competitive nature of Aussies, whether it’s in sports or gaming and business, they’re never ones to miss a trick when it comes to being one step ahead. Gaming has contributed to Australia becoming a global tech leader, and that makes the sector one they are keen to continue promoting for generations to come.