On 13th October, Mediatel hosted its annual Future of Gaming event. It featured many interesting discussions overlapping with MTM’s own upcoming event, Let’s Change the Game: diversity and representation in video games. At MTM we’re fully invested in the promotion of video games as an artform. It is frankly the most immersive and innovative entertainment experience available. Diversity and equality is core to this experience, so here’s a run-down of our favourite insights from the event, and how they apply to our proprietary research into DEI in gaming.

Gamers as a highly responsive audience

The event focussed on gamers as a marketing audience, and the future of the relationship between gamers and industries. A recurring theme was gamers defying the stereotype of a teenage boy playing games alone – something we all know as untrue, but disappointingly still exists in society. Samsung’s Daniel Trevett described gamers as “uber-consumers”, who were affluent, had bank accounts, listened to music… they even tended to spend more on SVODs, and food & drink. Hence, this audience is likely to take action in response to games they like, which aligns with our own diversity research. Upon positive representation in games, gamers were more likely to take actions like buying merchandise and future games by that developer. It seems the only thing uniting this broad spectrum of people is their love of games, and their need for more diverse character representation and narratives.

Games are a modern advertising platform that can be used for good!

Another key theme was the use of video games and platforms like the Metaverse as an experimental advertising platform. With over half of gamers using ad-blockers, ads working well with gamers is essential. For example, Twitch’s Lou Emmerson spoke about a brand partnership wherein Coca-Cola supported a young black streamer who had been searching for a sponsorship. The deal generated a lot of positive reputation and celebration for the brand among his fans, and served to help support a young minority creator. Leeston Bryant, Senior Manager of Esports & Gaming, McLaren Racing, even posited that the future of gaming was just as popular as TV or movies, so it’s more important than ever for developers to use their platform to spread messages of acceptance.

From our own research, we know that gamers are ready for developers to be bolder and start telling stories about underrepresented groups. This presents a great opportunity for brands to contribute positive messaging using games. This has already been illustrated by Daisy Söderberg-Rivkin, Responsible Gaming Manager at LEGO, who spoke about how LEGO used gaming to teach children, and open an effective dialogue, about internet safety.

The key to getting gamers onboard is understanding them

However, the most notable message we took from the event was for companies to effectively communicate with gamers, most important is knowing their audience. Instead of seeing gamers as stereotyped by teens in basements, ads not only have to know the specific audience of their gaming partners, but also form a long-term relationship with the platforms they feature in. Gaming audiences are extremely tech literate, expect high quality content, and want brands to offer tailored content; rather than companies trying to relate to them without understanding who they are. As Lou Emmerson says, the worst thing ‘is dad dancing in game’ – ads must feel authentic, and confident in their understanding.

This aligns with our research about messaging from games about diversity needing to feel authentic, rather than poorly applied. In many cases, staying away from targeting the biggest and most far-reaching games is beneficial, and companies can instead benefit from games that already reach remote audiences. For example, Lucy Rissik, Founder & CEO of Brotherhood of Brand, referenced an advertising campaign using the game Star Stable to address young girls, as a notoriously hard-to-reach market. In reality, gamers are representative of all identities, united by their love of games, and their want to see themselves reflected in the mediums they love.

Gaming already generates more revenue than music and movies combined. It influences everything from fashion to TV content to music. Games will continue to take a much bigger role in entertainment and society in general in which consumers, creators and streamers are able to benefit from brand relationships. Consumers are looking for more representation, and we believe that this can lead to a beneficial future where the already far reaching and experimental platform of video games is as lucrative for businesses and developers as it is for underrepresented groups.

Want to know what LGBTQ+ gamers think about how LGBTQ+ characters are currently represented, what Black gamers want from a narrative that represents them or how to land authenticity with non-cis gamers? Well then we got you covered! We are so excited to announce we’re hosting an in-person event on diversity and representation in video games.

For more information about the event and speakers, and to register your interest for our event on Monday 7th November at Google’s London St Giles High Street Office, please enter your details here: Let’s Change the Game: A discussion about representation & diversity in video games (rsvp.withgoogle.com)