I never understood the fascination with watching YouTubers play video games. My nephews are addicted to watching DanTDM play Minecraft and now are aspiring to be a gamer on YouTube. I thought it was a generational thing until I asked them about the Fortnite game. They told me that Ninja is the best player and that when they are ready to play the game, they will know how to use all the best moves because of him.
Next, they found his channel and played one of his videos and we sat and watched it together. First, I had to understand the premise of the game. It’s hunger games, building and shooting all smooshed into one. Then I watched in a mesmerized gaze as he beat the opposing players with swift and calculated moves to win the game. It was magnificent. I finally “got it”!
In a recent New York Times article, they take this new trend in video gamer culture and identify the true motivations behind its expansive growth and popularity. Gamers are now seen as a mash-up of half athlete and half influencer. Where the game of choice is Fortnite. In a time when blockbuster movies and live sports are failing us, this new form of entertainment is proving to be the one to bet on. Fortnite content received 2.4 billion views on YouTube in February alone. So what does this mean for industries trying to break into generation Z’s obsession with digital consumption and entertainment? It means that in the future, content generation will be king, building communities for interaction around the content will be key where individualization, curation, and personality will be differentiators to breaking through the noise and rising to the top.
For example, FaZe is one of several growing esports teams and content mills. The Faze Clan, probably the largest pop gaming brand, has houses in California (Calabasas and Hollywood) and Texas (Austin). Their job is to be cool gamers. They stream game play, and they make highly shareable videos about video games. This workday goal is to leave with three to four pieces of viral-ready content.
Where in America, physical spaces around the country are being renovated into gamer bars. There are 150 million gamers in America and they want to gather. They want to sit next to each other, elbow to elbow, controller to controller. They want the lighting to be cool, the snacks to be Hot Pockets, and they want a full bar because they are not teenagers anymore.
And finally, it means that everyone is a gamer now. Movie theatres are being converted into esports arenas where kids, mostly younger, compete and watch the game projected onto the big screen. These events are now starting to replace traditional sports. Where each city plays together as a branded team — there’s the Chicago Force, the New York Fury, the San Francisco Ionics. So far, there are 50,000 players.
By 2019, they expect to have this offering in 500 venues.