Gaming is a Hobby: The Past 30 Years In A Nutshell That Says It Is

We often get asked the question of whether gaming can be classed as a hobby as some people describe it as an unproductive usage of time. Rest assured, gaming is definitely a hobby if you are doing it for fun during your spare time as this is how we class all hobbies. A hobby doesn’t necessarily have to be a productive pastime in the traditional sense, however, there’s more going on under the hood when you play games than you may realize — More on that later.

Gaming has evolved massively over the past 30 years so it’s important to take a look at how the landscape has changed, why it’s changed, and how that plays into the fact of this being a de facto hobby for many people now.

Part of that gaming revolution is mostly to do with technology getting better and being able to connect us with many folks around the world who also share that same passion. But, interconnectedness isn’t the only driving force at play here. Convenience and small-form-factor gaming have had two major revolutions in the past 30 years which has served to increase the gaming population for those harder-to-reach pockets that may otherwise not have bothered.

The great thing about gaming as a hobby is that it also serves as a good exploratory foundation for other smaller niche categories or specific universes that you can follow e.g. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, and much more. This can then lead to things like collecting toys, cards, and other memorabilia that are often directly linked to the game worlds that we involve ourselves in which solidifies the position of gaming being an all-encompassing hobby.

Let’s address the elephant in the room first about whether gaming can be classed as productive.

Is Gaming a Productive Hobby?

If you grew up as a kid in the 90s then you’ll probably remember commercials and certain news outlets reporting that gaming was a scourge that was making our kids braindead and driving a wave of violence that was unlike anything seen before.

There was even a senate committee hearing in 1993 that discussed various games such as Mortal Kombat as having a detrimental effect on the development of children. Here is the clip:

Rest assured, this demonization of the video games market wasn’t based on any solid evidence as recent studies show conflicting reports that expose a much more complicated matter at hand.

It’s thought that competition rather than violent images is a greater risk factor for aggressive outbursts.

So does this mean gaming is productive or unproductive?

In all honesty, it seems to depend on such a large myriad of factors (such as age, mental development, parenting, etc) that it’s hard to conclusively say either way. What we do know is that gaming when used for (arguably) agreeable purposes such as to relax after a stressful day or to enjoy an immersive story can actually be a great way to enhance your overall productivity.

When you’re gaming for endless hours without a check then most likely this will be to the detriment of studies, human interaction, and overall financial gain which mainstream society considers more productive than gaming. With that said, we don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole as it eventually leads to a discussion of philosophy rather than what most people view as acceptable.

How Has The Gaming Landscape Changed Through The Years?

Snapshot History of Gaming During the 90s

Gaming during the 90s was a transformative era as it brought several important developments such as powerful handheld consoles (GameBoy Color) and disc-based gaming systems that allowed for larger more immersive gaming worlds to be produced.

This is arguably when gaming started to take off from being a cult hobby to more of a mainstream pastime that millions of people enjoyed worldwide. The advent of a decent handheld console meant that even casual gamers could enjoy relatively fleshed-out game worlds for relatively little expense.

Gaming franchises such as Mario, Sonic, Pokémon, and others were either properly established by this point or were able to capitalize on this tech explosion which saw real fanbases sprout up causing a fever pitch around the world with the help of magazines and marketing.

The Nintendo Game Boy Color dominated the 90s.

This helped transform the image of gaming from something that you might do in your spare time for an hour or two to something that you based your whole life around where you could collect toys, cards, and other exciting memorabilia that defined who you were as a person.

Perhaps one of the biggest gaming hobby phenomenons of the 90s was the release of Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue. It was released in 1996 to the Japanese market and then around 1998 in mainstream Western nations to great success.

Its success was further compounded by a combination of the Pokémon trading card game, TV shows, and gaming conventions that helped spread the word which turned this franchise into an absolute mammoth even to this day.

This was perhaps one of the best examples of a gaming franchise becoming a complete hobby with a plethora of different options that helped you support its ongoing success.

Snapshot History of Gaming During the 00s

After this, you had the 00s which truly established gaming over the internet. This is perhaps the most important turning point in all of gaming history, however, it wasn’t taken seriously for another decade arguably.

Dreamcast was released in 1998 which was the first game console to support true internet-based gaming but with so few people having access to reliable internet services it was hard to capitalize on this feature.

The Sega Dreamcast release was a pivotal moment in gaming to show the benefits of what modern optimizations could bring.

For the people who had reliable dial-up services, they were able to connect and engage with others from around the world through games like Phantasy Star Online which created true communities that would have been relegated to the likes of nerdy conventions once a year otherwise. For people exposed to this, there was no going back to the unconnected days of old. Playing with real, thinking, and competitive players was the only way to get a true sense of who you were in the world you were investing yourself in. It was also a fantastic way to meet people with similar interests which further stoked the hobby fire for many gamers.

Overall, during this decade, we would see some major graphical improvements that put us on a path towards open-world gaming experiences and massively multiplayer game phenomena such as World of Warcraft.

This allowed us to create characters that helped us feel unique and could be a part of a living persistent world that really solidified gaming as a hobby that could not be matched by anything else.

Snapshot History of Gaming as a hobby in 2010 and beyond

By this point in history, we’d had the launch of the iPhone which arguably helped bring mobile gaming to the masses and we’ve also had fully-fledged gaming hobbyist platforms launched such as YouTube and Twitch that allow gamers to monetize their content. You also have extremely reliable internet services that can offer either partial fiber or full fiber to the premises allowing for speeds well in excess of 1000mbps.

Mobile gaming is helping to bring video games to the masses.

Nearly every gaming franchise has multiple press releases or gaming conventions on a yearly basis that help to drive the communities that follow them and to help everyone keep up to date with future developments. It’s also not unusual to see posts on social media that show off a person’s collection dedicated specifically towards a game or franchise which further confirms that gaming is a true hobby and not just an unproductive waste of time.

In just 30 years, the world of gaming went from a relatively unknown concept made for a handful of tech nerds all the way to a multi-billion pound industry that has millions of fans all around the world who watch and play 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Why Did The Gaming Landscape Change?

Most people loved gaming but knew it could be much better with some significant technological advancements in the areas of audio technology, screen technology, memory optimization, interoperability, portability, and the ability to share content with viewers around the world.

It’s been a frustrating and iterative process for many people having to wait so long for all of these changes but we’re now at a point where gaming only needs small corrections made to it rather than sweeping changes that we’ve seen over the past 30 years.

This perhaps signifies that gaming is a truly established hobby now and is in the best state it’s ever been in with only virtual reality technologies being the next major leap we may see.

As with many hobbies, the more information we have access to the quicker they develop. The ability to share and discuss our interests online means we can quickly see what we are doing wrong or how we may be able to optimize our particular pastime.

We suppose then that this evolutionary path or trajectory of gaming as a hobby is only natural as humans constantly seek to improve, discuss, or share what they learn.

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Gaming is a truly vast hobby that offers you thousands of different and unique worlds to invest your time in and to become a part of.

Whether you want to be a magical wizard, a ninja assassin, or just the best bloody farmer on the planet, gaming allows these concepts to come to life for you and many people around the world.

Gaming may not always be the most productive hobby in a traditional sense but if it brings you happiness and joy then we don’t think you should let anyone stop you.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed our look at gaming as a hobby and our snapshots of gaming history.

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