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The Rise of Social Gaming and Its Monumental Impact

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In April 2020, rapper and singer-songwriter Travis Scott held an in-game, real-time concert on Fortnite called “Astronomical—complete with tour dates, a virtual stage constructed on an island, and surreal visuals for the players who logged in to attend. The Fortnite concert drew 12.3 million viewers, further confirming a universal truth in this industry: gamers seek social interaction [1]. 

Many social games such as Roblox and Minecraft also held their in-game concerts in 2020 [2, 3]. However, the idea of in-game events is not new to the gaming industry, and the record-breaking success of Scott’s concert is unsurprising for a few reasons. At around the same time the events happened, social distancing measures were enforced, which abruptly deprived people of in-person social interaction. Epic Games addressed this by replicating the real-world concert-going experience, allowing gamers to play Fortnite while waiting for the event to start. Because the concert took place in an MMORPG environment where chat is a main part of the experience, players, and the developers and musicians who participated were able to interact with one another on both public and private chat channels. Players’ avatars could dance to the music or “emote” by waving flaming mic stands over their heads, adding to that feeling of being at a real concert.

There has also been a paradigm shift among gamers in recent years. According to TalkWalker, a social media analytics platform, the most popular keywords related to gaming are no longer simply about specific titles or consoles but rather about the people they play games with [4]. This can mean that social connections between gamers, and the ability to interact and communicate with one another in-game, are becoming just as important as the gameplay itself. 

Diana Williams

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