A multi-billion dollar industry, electronic games have been experiencing strong and rapid growth in recent times. The world of games is not only exciting due to the magnificent growth of the industry however, but due to a host of other factors. This chapter explores electronic games, providing an analysis of the industry, key motivators for game play, the game medium and academic research concerning the effects of play. It also reviews the emerging relationship games share with sport, recognizing that they can replicate sports, facilitate sports participation and be played as a sport. These are complex relationships that have not yet been comprehensively studied. The current chapter serves to draw academic attention to the area and presents ideas for future research.
The global entertainment and media industry is predicted to grow 6.6% annually to 2012, to then be valued at US $2.2 trillion (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2008). Within that industry grouping, the gaming market alone is expected to grow 10.3% annually to be worth $68.4 billion by 2012, up from $41.9 billion in 2007 (Caron, 2008; PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2008). Digital technology advances are driving growth, facilitating product innovation and the development of new hardware and software. Worldwide, video game and interactive entertainment industry revenue is forecast to reach $57 billion in 2009, including revenue from video game hardware and software; dedicated portable system hardware and software; PC games; as well as online PC and console games (DFC Intelligence, 2008). Overall, the industry has become more structured and stable: revenues for manufacturers are increasing, software sales are rising and a more diverse audience playing. These issues are examined next.