In recent years, the dramatic shift in society has changed how modern companies present themselves, and the gaming industry was no exception. As representation and inclusion come to the forefront, we all have a pivotal role in defining who we are as an entity, and in shaping it.

The world is not the same place as it was since Covid. Be it with embrace or hesitation, the world is moving forward, and driving it is the omnipresent technology that defines who we are.

The same can be said about the gaming industry.

Today, Southeast Asian mobile economy is at its finest hour.

In a recent report by Insider Intelligence, the Southeast Asian mobile economy has reached 326.3 million in 2022, and is forecasted to rise steadily for years to come. With the growth of affordable smartphones, paired with the rapid burgeoning of an expanding middle class in the APAC region, this growth is on full throttle and here to stay.

The gaming draw when the real world was in complete shutdown

Since its initiation and rise in popularity, gaming has been known as an escapade for its players, a world built for the players in its dominion. The only difference now is that the population has exponentially widened.

Since the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020, consumers of all ages were bunkered indoors with nowhere else to go. Naturally, the only consumer outlet that could sustainably function was the virtual marketplace. Which not only sustained but thrived.

The societal trend naturally evolved into an accelerated demand, from financial services to retail; from public sectors to virtual spaces.

According to Statista, the gaming population of South East Asia alone has grown from 170.6 million players in 2017 to 250.6 million in 2021, a whopping +50 percent growth in just 4 years.

That is exactly the case for the digital landscape of Asia, by far the most populated continent on Earth. To stay relevant and competitive, organizations have identified the need to be attentive, and are actively one step ahead of market interests and trends. As with many others, crucially focused around the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

Before we delve deeper into that conversation, we need to comprehend the 4W’s.

  • Why now?
  • Where is its core amongst all this?
  • Who’s involved, and where is this going to lead?

By knowing the virtual market, the Asian digital gaming and entertainment industry in our case, we can identify our market as the 26-billion-dollar behemoth that it is.

The Asian behemoth

APAC is unsurprisingly the biggest gamer region in the world. Not only that 55 percent of the world’s gaming market shares are just in APAC alone, generating $58 billion dollars of revenue in 2021, a formidable 4 percent Year-on-Year increase from the year before.

The APAC region is poised to reach a staggering $179 billion in 2030.

With these numbers in mind, it is easy to juxtapose them with countless factors, from the ever-widening age demographic of avid players to the modernization and globalization of the continent, or the simple fact of an ever-expanding gaming population.

Once seen as a staunchly children-young adult industry and unmistakably male-dominated, the gaming industry 2 decades into the 21st century now has a median age range of 18-34, and increasingly mirrors the global population.

According to Statista, all other age groups from under 18 to under 55 now resemble over 10 percent of the gamer percentage. Crucially, 40-45 percent of the Asian gaming population are women.

The resemblance is uncanny, but nonetheless significant.

With these numbers, it becomes increasingly clear to most, that a community, once thought to be among the most adamant to change, is now at the forefront. The traditional idea that gaming is for ‘children’, ‘boys’ specifically has changed, and will change in alignment to the general population.

To implement that change, we must first be open to understanding the market trends and their causation and align closely to create necessary changes to match demands.

Our industry aims to make a difference from where we are positioned, through a predictive over-reactive approach, following insights, and understanding market trends and regional interests.

But that is only one leg of a multipronged solution.

The millennium of empowerment

As the wave of representation, the #MeToo movement, and proportionate equality hit the shores of Silicon Valley and subsequently the world, people have become aware of their rights, wrongs, and the world in foresight.

As part of worldwide demand, more diverse characters, personalities, and inventory has been introduced in contemporary games that better resemble the local preferences and cultural representation, and general populace.

As a strategy that goes hand in hand, many fast-growing economies are now seen as an industrial force that is worth investing in.

In terms of gender, women are now increasingly acknowledged as key drivers of economic growth and job creation. In 2020, women comprised of approximately 17 percent of the estimated 43 million employers in Asia, and 23 percent in Southeast Asia.

As women in the tech industry alongside my co-founder, we believe a part of embracing change in the South East Asian region, is to lead by example.

The importance of showing the younger generation, girls and boys alike, that they can be anything, anywhere is unignorable. The gaming industry is no exception.

In a rapidly growing market, women entrepreneurs of businesses big or small are a sign that an exponentially growing population is fully utilized, and that talents are now rightfully being judged by merit and capabilities.

Equal opportunity, maximum inspiration

As with the change in markets, a shift in societal interest and the wave of pursuit amongst young talents towards the fields of their preferences can be witnessed. The perception that certain positions & occupations are catered to a certain subset of people is rapidly dissipating.

With this new wave of young millennials and Gen Zs comes the push for a fairer, more equal, and more accepting industry for a wider range of people.

The most evident effect of varied perspectives is diverse, multi-directional, and exciting new take on conventional positions and methodologies. A shift in the mechanism trickles down to the end product, inspiring more consumers to see versions of themselves represented in mediums they were not aware was possible before.

As a generation at the heart of globalization, we should all strive to be part of a movement that rides the tide toward a more inclusive and accepting future.

As the Southeast Asian region, and Asia Pacific as a whole gradually transitions from pandemic to endemic, hand in hand with the wave of society change, these are surely interesting times.

With that in mind, we should all be there to embrace it, and acknowledge that we are in the roaring heart of the machine, and this is our opportunity to take.

Sharon Maurenn is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wallet Codes Sdn. Bhd.

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