Roll the clock back by a couple of years, almost a decade, and you’ll see that the internet was a much simpler place. Social media platforms were less vitriolic than they are today, memes were beginning to go mainstream, and most people were generally optimistic about the future of tech and the digital space.
Back then, online ‘gaming used’ to refer to playing basic, flash-based video games or multiplayer video games on the internet. These games could be from first-person shooter games to massively multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPGs. They could be played on various devices, from consoles to personal computers.
It was a form of entertainment that allowed people to connect and play games together, regardless of where they were in the world, for free or minimal admittance fee if the match was viral.
These games focused on entertainment and social interaction, with players forming communities and friendships within the game world.
However, in recent years, the term has been appropriated by the online betting and fantasy sports industries in such a way that most people who are not gamers sneer when they hear the words “online gaming.” As a term, “online gaming” has been bastardized and now carries an entirely different meaning than what it used to a decade ago.
The rise of online betting and fantasy sports has been fueled by the growth of the internet and the increasing popularity of league-based sports. Online betting, which includes sports betting, poker, and casino games, has exploded in popularity in recent years, with millions of players worldwide wagering real money against real people in a digital setting.
This has made it easier for people to gamble and has led to a significant increase in money being wagered on sports. The problem is, in many countries, including India, online betting isn’t strictly legal. Enter fantasy sports, a “game” that allows people to create virtual teams of real-life players and compete against other users to see whose team performs the best.
As the popularity of these industries has grown, so has the use of the term “online gaming” to refer to them when it has very little to do with actual gaming. Many people now use the term to describe all three – online video games, online betting, and fantasy sports. This has not only led to massive confusion among consumers but has also diluted or instead corrupted the original meaning of the term.
While online betting and fantasy leagues can undoubtedly be considered forms of online gaming, they are vastly different from traditional video and computer games. For one, they involve using real money, which introduces a level of risk and potential financial loss that is not present in traditional gaming. Additionally, the focus of these activities is on competition and the potential for financial gain rather than on entertainment and social interaction. You’ll often see these “games” advertised similarly to get-rich-quick schemes.
Even when online video games involved real money before fantasy leagues and online betting were a thing, it used to be in the form of an admittance fee or for the exchange of unique skins, costumes, or abilities. Online video games never entice consumers by offering them a false hope of winning real money.
The word “gaming” carries connotations of fun and enjoyment, whereas “gambling” has connotations of risk and addiction, so of course, these industries couldn’t refer to themselves using those terms. By using the word “online gaming,” these industries can present themselves in a more favorable., albeit false light, and appeal to a broader audience.
Another reason why the term “online gaming” has been appropriated is that it allows these industries to tap into the existing market of gamers. Many people who enjoy playing video games are also interested in sports and may be more likely to try online betting or fantasy sports if they are presented as a form of gaming. By using the term “online gaming,” these industries can appeal to a demographic they may not have been able to reach otherwise.
Furthermore, the co-opting of the term “online gaming” by the betting and fantasy league industries has led to a generally negative perception of all forms of online gaming. Traditional video and computer games are often seen as frivolous and unproductive, with many viewing them as a waste of time and money. However, research has shown that online gaming can have numerous benefits, including improved problem-solving skills, increased social interaction, and enhanced cognitive abilities.
The appropriation of the term “online gaming” has also led to blurring the lines between gaming and gambling. While video games are typically considered a form of entertainment, online betting and fantasy sports involve risking money to win more.
Furthermore, this has stigmatized internet-based video games as well today. This, in turn, has led to a decrease in the visibility of the video game industry and has made it harder for video game developers. Naturally, most developers are now jumping ship to publishers who have cracked the code of gamification of betting and fantasy leagues.
To combat the negative perception of online gaming and protect consumers from the potential dangers of online betting and fantasy leagues, the actual traditional gaming industry needs to reclaim the term “online gaming” and educate the public about the differences between conventional gaming and betting activities that are hiding under the garb of “online gaming.”
To combat the negative perception of online gaming and protect consumers from the potential dangers of online betting and fantasy leagues, the gaming industry needs to reclaim the term “online gaming” and educate the public about the differences between traditional gaming and these activities.