December 16, 2023

The Gaming Dilemma: Balancing Revenue Growth and Kids' Well-being

October 18, 2023

The Gaming Dilemma: Balancing Revenue Growth and Kids' Well-being

The digital gaming industry is projected to generate $321 billion by 2026 (PwC’s Global Media and Entertainment Outlook 2022-2026). How does this factor into kids’ well-being? This post will help you to recognize healthy design loops in the gaming industry and explores how they can be used toto support revenue growth, all while prioritizing kids' safety, happiness, and health.

The Rise of Online Harassment and Screen-Time

Online harassment, hate, and extremism have surged, causing parents and educators to worry how kids are navigating the digital landscape. Moreover, the increase in screen-time is reducing time kids spend moving and making real-life connections. We know that striking a balance between the digital and physical world is crucial for kids’ development.

Prioritizing Healthy Design Loops

Healthy design loops are integral to kids' digital well-being. They focus on ensuring the well-being of young players without sacrificing engagement. They promote positive behavior by rewarding actions that are beneficial for child development and social interaction. They also encourage players to make choices that lead to personal growth and positive experiences. Designing with empathy in mind can support game design by ensuring that kids not only have fun but also feel happy, safe, and healthy while gaming. Game developers can incorporate mechanics that encourage cooperation, kindness, and understanding among players, in turn fostering a positive online environment.

Characteristics of Dark vs. Healthy Game Design Loops

Let's take a closer look at the characteristics that differentiate dark and healthy game design loops in the kids' gaming industry:

Dark Game Design Loops

  • Encourage excessive screen-time without breaks.
  • Use addictive mechanics that exploit psychological vulnerabilities.
  • Prioritize monetization through in-app purchases, often targeting vulnerable young players.
  • Foster a competitive and often hostile gaming environment.
  • Promote isolation by discouraging real-world interactions.

Healthy Game Design Loops

  • Promote balanced screen-time with regular breaks.
  • Incorporate educational and skill-building elements into gameplay.
  • Offer clear and transparent monetization models, avoiding predatory practices.
  • Encourage teamwork, cooperation, and positive social interactions.
  • Foster connections with the real world through offline activities and learning.

Prioritizing Kids’ Digital Well-being

The question remains: Can revenue growth and kids' digital well-being go hand in hand in the gaming industry? The answer is yes, but it requires a conscious effort from game developers, publishers, and regulators. Revenue can be generated through ethical and transparent means, such as one-time purchases or subscriptions, rather than exploiting kids with microtransactions.

The gaming industry's growth presents a fully earned opportunity to create digital games that prioritize kids’ happiness, safety, and health. By prioritizing healthy design loops, infusing empathy into game mechanics, and promoting balanced screen-time, gaming companies can contribute to a positive gaming experience for kids, ensuring that revenue growth and well-being can coexist.