The image of video gamers as pasty, white loners isolated in basements lit by only the glow of a computer screen may be going away. Today’s gamers are just as likely to be iPhone-toting hipsters playing zombie games over Facebook or 50-year-old mothers playing versions of Scrabble online with their friends. New social games are breaking down the line between work, play, and life, and creating a world where everyone is a gamer.
“What videogames suggest is that almost anything can be made more compelling with the application of gaming principles,” Tom Chatfield writes for Prospect. Schools are integrating Guitar Hero into classrooms, and the military (problematically) is integrating video games into warfare. Companies that make simple, inexpensive games that integrate with Facebook and other social networks are quickly turning into multimillion-dollar businesses. No longer a solitary activity, Chatfield writes, “It’s becoming increasingly hard to tell where the serious business of play ends and the playful business of life begins.”