DISCLAIMER: As I have not yet purchased Mcgonigal’s book, I have made this post just based on my general knowledge of gaming. I will purchase the text this week.
Up until now, there has undoubtedly been a focus on a casual scene as opposed to competitive. This is obviously because the money in an industry comes from the consumer base, and you always try to make a consumer base as wide as possible. As a result, the most popular games that represent the current industry (Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Madden NFL series) have been designed for mass consumption in order to achieve said consumer base. When I say this, I particularly mean that the games are built to be easy and quickly rewarding. Currently, that is where all the money is. They get to crank out a new game in each series every year, and they will continue to sell like hotcakes.
However! I believe there is a new age on the horizon- where competitive games may in fact become the new focus. I base this on two particular instances, both of which have happened recently.
First of all, I would address Nintendo’s recent embrace of the competitive Smash Bros scene. After a history of conflict between Nintendo and this competitive scene, the company seems to have moved on, as they just announced they will be hosting a 16 person smash featuring the most famous competitive players- and they are hosting this tournament as a way to advertise their next game in the series. They have even changed the aspects of this newest addition to allow for a more competitive side (for example, the addition of the “For Glory!” mode, which only features one stage, and removes the more random elements for a more direct competition).
My second point is the League of Legends tournament hosted by the Staples Center in 2013. This event became famous for selling out tickets to spectators…. for a video game. This is interesting because if the spectator aspect of video games became more popular, then the money in the industry could move into spectator events, which revolve around competitive games.
Because of these two instances, I think it is possible that games in the future will need to move to a more competitive standard, in order to compete with other games that are more competitive.
Maybe, anyway. I would be pretty excited about this myself.