30 years ago, parents used to have to limit play time their kids had with other kids, in favor of more educational activities, having kids playing in the garden or playground or even in the neighborhood was the normality.
In the 80’s and 90’s, video games expansion and adoption was super fast, Atari, Sega, Nintendo started replacing play time with video games time, at that time the consoles were more like family entertainment, but quickly the games started catering for single players and more solo player activities and gaming behavior.
It was the time when personal computers were picking up, and the CD used in PC games around 1993 gave bigger storage capacity allowing more complex games to emerge. Gaming on PCs have started making big success amongst the young and the older, creating millions of gaming addicts.
Then came the 6th and 7th generation consoles like the wii, the xbox and the play station, pushing video gaming to a new addictive level.
Slowly gaming have started replacing playing for kids but not quite entirely, as playing a console or a computer game had 2 main limitations :
Gamers were using a common tv set or computer, and each game required to be acquired, these 2 limitation kind of controlled the gaming addiction.
Meanwhile the internet entered most homes , and a variety of simple flash games popped up, they weren’t sophisticated enough to create real addiction, but created the precursor for more addictive games that came later.
For a while games on facebook were going viral and were thought to be the successor to the simple online games, and they were sophisticated enough to not only create addiction but also make people spend their real money on in-game purchases!
Then out of nowhere there was the smartphone revolution, transforming our mobile phones into mini computers, and taking gaming to a whole new level, now the game is in your mobile, with no limitations and more addictive than ever!
Gaming found the perfect medium with the smartphone and tablets devices, and to make things worse, game-makers and cartoon show creators started making games targeting kids as young as 3 and 4 year old, true these games are educational in nature, but they are at the same time creating an addiction to games that would be difficult to heal.
Now parents are happy when their kids have play time, because kids these days spend enormous amount of time playing games online or using the smartphones & tablets of their parents!
The addiction does not only affect the young though, as the young of the 80’s are now dads and moms, they are still hooked to gaming, unlike the younger generation, they might not see the games as a challenge versus the computer, but rather as a time passing hobby, and often these games include interacting virtually with other human players, this usually include gambling games and card games.
The future of gaming is being defined right now with virtual reality gadgets like Oculus rift (acquired by Facebook) or Microsoft’s Room Alive . But the effect it will have will be an additive one rather than a competitive one, meaning when smartphone gaming took off, console and PC gaming did not slow down, there weren’t a competition on a precised amount of people and time of each, instead each reached gaming technology increased the gamers population with mostly new blood.