Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recession's On, Game Sales Up: Let the Bad Times Roll!

There's a lesson to be learned here: "November video game sales near $3 billion" (Associated Press (December 12, 2008)). That's up about 10% from last year at this time.

Not bad for an economy in crisis.

The data comes from a market research outfit called NDP. Someone from the company said that it's

  • A broad range of games produced
  • Games are relatively cheap stay-at-home entertainment
Industries thriving - or at least staying afloat - in bad times is nothing new. A professor of history recalled that the Great Depression gave some businesses a boost:

"One-third of Americans were below the poverty line, yet some industries actually managed to make a profit at the beginning of the 1930s as the public looked for a way to escape. If Americans couldn't find work, at least they could go for a drive, have a cigarette, or go to a movie. Correspondingly, sales of oil, gas, cigarettes, and movie tickets all went up."
(H102Lecture 18, American History 102: Civil War to the Present (Stanley K. Schultz, Professor of History; William P. Tishler, Producer) (© 1999 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System ))

Escapism: It's Good for Business

I read someplace that movie ticket sales going up during economic bad times wasn't a given any more. I believe it, but that doesn't mean that the Depression Lesson isn't still valid.

Back in the 1930s, nobody had video games. Duke Nukem was decades in the future. Kirby was a brand of vacuum cleaners. If you were going to escape, you'd go for a drive, smoke a cigarette, or go to a movie. Maybe all three.

That was then, this is now.

People have more ways of getting away from real-life stress now: video games; and the medium you're using right now: the Internet. Actually, the thirties saw an equivalent to today's video game micro-boom: Monopoly became paradoxically popular while real-life tycoons were selling apples out of a box. (There seems to be more to the game's history than that. See "Monopoly History.")

But, Escapism Is Bad, Right?

One thing I learned in college, back in the seventies, was that Escapism was bad - unless you were following Timothy Leary's advice to "Turn on, tune in and drop out."

I think a friend of mine, who shared my interest in role-playing games, had a better approach: 'Building castles in the sky is fine: but when you try to collect rent, you've got problems.' The point is, a little 'escapism' is a sort of intellectual and emotional R & R. So, with some reservations, I'd say -

Escapism is Fine: As Long As Someone is Paying You For It

I'm not wasting time, being upset about the global economic crisis and the collapse of the American automotive industry (the Big Three, anyway).

I'm trying to figure out what I can do, to help people relax, escape, or learn, while they're not taking a Caribbean cruise or flying to Aspen. 'Let the bad times roll!'

1 comment:

Mberenis said...

Grrrrrrrrrreat blog!!!

Don't let the recession get you down. When was the last time you looked at government grants? With the bailout, there is more money than ever. Don't miss out.

My Grant Blog

("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Small Business Watchers