I caught my nephew and his friends doing a series of funny looking dances and curiously asked if those were the freshest moves in town and what names they went by. With names like Chicken, Take the L, Fresh and one that I took a liking to dubbed Floss.

My curiosity drew me into the evolved world of gaming that is many light years ahead from what my teenage self, experienced in 2D. You see, these dance moves are among many found on Fortnite, a title by development studio Epic Games. Only released in 2017, this free to play game has gained a cult like status growing to over 125 million players and is on track to hit two billion dollars in revenues this year from virtual goods.

Transforming entertainment

However the heart of this piece lies my rediscovery after reading up on Fortnite.

As connectivity has improved and hardware become faster, the gaming industry has not only kept pace but truly transformed entertainment and commerce with immersive experiences that have millions around the world hooked and paying up.

Traditionally consumers bought consoles and purchased games that would be played offline. Now, they come Wi-Fi enabled and with ethernet ports allowing one to purchase games online and where gameplay allows, engage online in real-time with others from across the globe.

Reminiscent of my childhood where we huddled around the latest game title in the neighbourhood watching others play and waiting a turn perchance, the spectator segment of the gaming community has grown exponentially, creating celebrities from those who now carry pro-player titles and command huge following on social media. This celebrity status in many instances comes with a good payday with live streaming video platforms such as Amazon owned Twitch and Google’s YouTube Gaming allowing fans to connect with their favourite players and teams with live broadcasts or pre-recorded videos of gameplay.

Income is earned from advertisement and subscription revenue share under the various partnership programs. This goes a notch higher with E-sports that takes on the dimension of team based spectator showdowns on game genres such as first-person shooter, real-time strategy, and multiplayer online battle arena, with accompanying healthy purses for winners.

How can we seriously plug into this industry as Africans, with our rich culture, creativity and imagination, to create viral titles and build communities for ourselves and the world?

It’s time to play.

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