On BBC Radio 4 Money Box Live today I spoke about the jaw-dropping rise of the video game industry – and the human and financial impact on those who play.
The numbers behind video gaming may come as a surprise to many: with a revenue of around $150 billion worldwide in 2019, video gaming dwarfs Hollywood ($43 billion) and the music industry ($19 billion) combined – as it has for the last decade.
Yet many of the industry’s leading video games are billed as “free”. 2019’s biggest title, Fortnite, earned publisher Epic Games $1.8 billion despite not charging to download or play.
How? Welcome to a colourful world of in-game purchases where virtual coins, currencies, power-ups and “loot boxes” make the digital worlds go round.
Altogether less welcome are the stories of addictive behaviour, debt and theft we heard from Money Box Live listeners today.
I’m not anti-video games – far from it, I play Fortnite on my iPad, was (once) a whizz on Pro Evo and enjoy fewer things more than a round of Mario Kart with my kids.
But what concerns me is an unregulated gaming industry that makes hundreds of billions of pounds yet frequently shirks its responsibilities around duty of care, refuses to acknowledge its game mechanics – yes, loot boxes, among others – are gambling in all but name, and misses opportunities to put controls in place to protect younger and vulnerable gamers.
Keen to make sure your family enjoys video games safely responsibly? Here are two excellent resources:
CES – or the International Consumer Electronics Show to give its full name – is in full swing and I’m here in Las Vegas making some sense of the tech gifts we’ll be unwrapping in Christmas 2016 and beyond.
As expected virtual reality, unmanned aerial vehicles (okay, drones), connected home/internet of things and wearables are all well represented here, as is the motoring industry with major announcements on driverless cars, electric vehicles and more from the likes of Ford, Toyota and newcomer Faraday Future.
Here’s a quick hit of one of my live reports for the Mark Forrest show on BBC radio broadcast midway through press day:
Earlier this week I appeared on BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs show You and Yours to talk about how to keep your smartphone photos and videos safe and secure.
Following a post on the BBC CBeebies Facebook page, a disturbing number of parents reported pictures had been lost through theft, accident or a broken device.
I say ‘pictures’, but often these are precious, irreplaceable family memories.
Here’s a clip from the show:
Estimates suggest we shared one trillion pictures from our phones in 2014. When smartphone photography is so simple that it requires almost no thought, it’s easy to take the snaps we take for granted.
But that becomes a big problem if when phone begins to run out of storage space, or worse if it gets lost or stolen. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to back up your photos and keep them safe.
The simplest backup of all is to store them in ‘the cloud’, what I often describe as a giant USB stick somewhere on the Internet.
Both of the major phone families – iOS found on Apple’s iPhone and Android installed on Samsung, Sony and HTC handsets among others – provide methods to back up your settings and app data along with photos and videos.
Apps such as Dropbox (and now Carousel), Flickr and Microsoft OneDrive provide seamless background image copy; Google Photos offers unlimited free cloud storage for images up to 16 MP and videos up to FullHD 1080p, more than satisfactory for most smartphone users.
With any cloud storage security is paramount (as some celebs found to their embarrassment recently) so ensure you understand any terms, use secure passwords and two factor authentication where available.
If you want to find out more about securing smartphone photos and videos drop me a line or leave a comment below.
In Technology Corner recently I’ve been exploring everything in science and tech from the rise and fall of Google Glass, smartwatches and the latest in wearables, to alternative fuels, eco-homes and upgrade culture.
During the BBC’s WW1 centenary commemorations in 2014 I presented a special item on technology that has changed the world over the last 100 years.
Here’s a clip of an item I broadcast on the Kevin Fernihough show in March 2015 on the emergence of Virtual and Augmented Reality: