With smartphones now just as powerful as many video game consoles, it’s no wonder there are more games and more players out there than ever before. In fact, ABC7 News found out, it’s a pastime that’s become so universal some think it could even bring about world peace.
In an otherwise peaceful hotel conference center, GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi brandished a menacing plastic sword. Call it a metaphor for the war in the game industry.
“The companies that are winning the mobile gaming war right now are advertising at the Super Bowl, they’re advertising on television,” he said.
Big companies are pouring big money into virtual reality and filling stadiums to watch elite, professional players.
“If you count all the games where you can actually make money off doing it, there’s probably more professionals in this sport than almost any other sport that’s out there,” said one panel member.
So for the independent developers at the GamesBeat conference, getting players to notice them is an epic battle.
“There’s a ton of competition, it’s very Machiavellian, you’ve gotta steal market share,” said Takahashi.
But one team of developers is actually all about setting down the sword, and we’re not talking virtually. They believe video games can be part of the healing process in some of the world’s most bitter conflicts like the one between Israel and Palestine.
“We think that games are one of the unifying forces in the world,” said Bandura Games CEO Justin Hefter.
Hefter is part of an unlikely team.
“It’s myself, an American,” he said. “I have an Israeli co-founder and also a Palestinian co-founder.”
Together they built a game called Runzoo that’s not competitive, but cooperative.
“My partner just saved my life,” he said while gesturing to the game. “We’re able to help each other further along in the game by having each other around.”
Partners are assigned automatically based on your interests.
“People from actual conflict lines actually do have common interests, so they’re going to get paired together,” said Hefter.
But you don’t find out who you were playing with until after the game.
“Realizing that, oh wow this person who I thought was so different is actually so similar,” he said.
A twist they hope will bring empathy to kids growing up amid the fighting and one that’s helped them win the fight to be noticed.
“On Indiegogo we hit our initial goal in just 10 days,” Hefter said. “People have been so excited about it.”