minecraft-325652_640How Big Is It? Here is gaming by the numbers:

Worldwide, there are 1.2 billion gamers. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.” If gamers were their own country, they would be the third largest nation on the planet, behind only India and China. They’ll likely catch India sometime in 2015, and China not long after. All this to say that there are lots of gamers. It’s the single largest tech related market on earth, and their “nation” has the fastest growing population anywhere. No other market is attracting more new members, more quickly than gaming.

The gamers of the world devote a staggering six billion man hours each week to gaming. In the US alone, gaming is in the same weight class as golf, edging that game out with $28 billion in total spending, versus golf’s $26 Billion. All that to say simply that gaming is a very big deal.

You convinced me – I want in. So does everyone else. The trouble is, games don’t just evolve. They don’t happen by chance.

If your business is in service and support, take the biggest, most terrifying and complex project your company has ever undertaken, and double it. Then double it again. Double it once more for good measure and you’ll begin to approach the complexities of even seeing a modestly sized game through to completion. These are some of the most intensely challenging projects in the business world today. It is orders of magnitude more difficult to manage the team producing a blockbuster game than it is to produce a motion picture. Several more orders of magnitude more difficult than creating any business system your company has ever built.

Blockbuster games have staffs that number in the scores, if not hundreds. Art departments, animators, writers, level designers, scripters, and of course, the core code team, broken out by functional areas of the game. This is a level of complexity that even seasoned project managers from other industries would run screaming from. Modern games have a vast number of moving parts that all have to work seamlessly together.

Do you want your business to run more smoothly and efficiently? Study the moves of the successful game companies. Even better, hire someone from the gaming industry, but good luck prying them away. Almost everyone in the industry is a passionate gamer. They’re doing what they love, so expect to pay through the nose if you do manage to lure someone away.

How then, do you break into this vast industry? How can you take advantage of it?

It’s quite possible that you don’t. Depending on what business you’re in, there might simply be no way for you to make any significant inroads at all. If you try, however, start small. Start humbly and modestly. Add some kind of gaming aspect to your company or store app, and build on it iteratively. Start encouraging the people you have working on the project to begin spending time on Sourceforge.net and other places where the indie gaming community has taken root.

Most importantly, go slow. There is a ton of money to be made if you can find a way to make gaming a part of your business, but you only get one chance. The first time you fall on your face, the gaming community is done with you. Rare is the company that gets a second chance.

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