The gaming industry benefitted greatly from the pandemic, satisfying our need for virtual entertainment and providing a way to maintain social connections while under lockdown. It’s now a US$150 billion powerhouse—more than the film and music industries, combined.

As we found out on Disruptors, the benefits of playing in the gaming space go way beyond entertainment. Gaming is wildly popular with Gen Z, and it’s proving to be useful not just in marketing but in unexpected areas ranging from fundraising to politics. The space presents an opportunity to reach a younger generation who aren’t consuming media in traditional ways, on their own turf. In 2020, even mainstream politicians delved into the unique and interactive experiences gaming brings. The Biden-Harris campaign, for instance, launched a virtual island in the game Animal Crossing in the final stretch of the U.S. presidential election. Canadian NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh saw an opportunity to connect with young voters by challenging U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to an Among Us showdown. According to the Washington Post, more people watched gaming content in 2020 than ever before, to the tune of about 100 billion hours. Big brands and other organizations are taking notice.

Here are some reasons why every business should consider a gaming strategy, for 2021 and beyond:

It can engage global audiences

Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital recently integrated a virtual gaming component called Quest Together to supplement its annual Ride to Conquer Cancer cycling fundraiser event. Surprisingly, the cancer hospital attracted a global audience, with over 50% of contributors coming from 45 countries. Today’s gamers are passionate, socially driven, and will step up to support causes they believe in.

It provides a direct link to Gen Z

Gen Z is the largest generation yet (born after 1997) and comprises almost 30% of the world’s population. Collectively, their spending power is about US$143 billion. And according to Forbes, 90% of Gen Z members classify themselves as gamers. But they’re not the lonely gamers of generations past. This generation of gamers is more connected, influential and socially conscious than ever.

Adrian Montgomery, the CEO of North America’s largest gaming network, Enthusiast Gaming, believes video games are the new social network, where participants don’t necessarily have a preference between in-person or virtual friendships. “One of the only ways to reach the Gen Zs at scale, is to go where they are consuming their content,” he said on the latest episode of Disruptors.

It can help you stand out

Gone are the days when radio or TV ads were enough to capture attention and engage target markets. Brands and industries are including gaming in their marketing plans, with a view to appearing fun and different. Brands such as Wendy’s, Gillette and Uber Eats have run successful activations on popular games like Fortnite and on Twitch, the streaming site of choice for gamers. Even high-end fashion brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton have shown their collections via game characters on the new virtual runway.

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