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Rock festivals are an endangered tradition – computer games are the new generation experience

By 24 March 2021March 26th, 2021No Comments

Fast-food chains and sports brands offer sponsored activities inside the games, and fashion brands are creating their own avatars and virtual collections, shares Laura Olin.

“Oh, how I miss the gigs in Kerubi. The best part was always when it was super crowded, everyone was sweating and the atmosphere was amazing”, my friend from Joensuu started reminiscing during our winter vacation in Northern Karelia.

“I know, right? I just wish I’d be in a music festival”, I sighed once again, who knows how many times I had already done that after the pandemic started.

Many of us who represent generation X are missing music, gigs, and festivals during these times. Even the sweat and the crowd in the front row. The Finnish festivals Ruisrock, Flow, and Ilosaari are experiences that our generation has shared.

While listening to music, we have made friends, fallen in love, had fun, and suffered from exhaustion after spending three days at the festival. 

So, I was slightly shocked, when I read the trend researcher Sean Mohanan’s view in the Guardian. According to the article, the youth nowadays don’t really care for gigs. Their generation experience is computer games. When our styles are defined by rock or hip-hop, the younger generation is into cyberpunk and fantasy characters. 

When we adults are struggling with endless Teams calls and miss real-life encounters, the youth are naturals in spending time in game worlds.

In a way, we have known this was developing, but suddenly the pandemic made it all more clear now. When we adults are struggling with endless Teams calls and miss real-life encounters, the youth are naturals in spending time in game worlds. 

The first time I really paid attention to this was in February 2019, when DJ Marshmello attracted 10 million players to his performance in the Fortnite game. Last year was a total game-changer. Virtual gigs brought the game environments with their avatars and activities to public knowledge. 

I was involved in organizing the virtual gig with the Finnish rap-duo JVG last May. When my nephews were during the whole gig tapping their mobile phones to get their avatars to dance, I felt like we were at the brink of a revolution. 

Marketers have noticed this also.

Fast-food chains and sports brands offer sponsored activities inside the games, and fashion brands are creating their own avatars and virtual collections. 

The future top designers are most likely designing clothes for the characters of the game Roblox. When the fashion world is based on a digital Metaverse, the designer doesn’t have to care about the ecological issues of textile production and can focus on creativity.

We have come a long way from the 1990s when marketing meant an EA Sports logo at the rinkside of NHL games.

Unlike in my youth, hanging out in the game world is not escapism, it’s a part of life. There might not be a sweary arm of a friend touching you accidentally or there might not be someone spilling a beer on you in front of the main stage, but instead, a friend’s friend who lives across the world can join the gig with you. And, someone might get lucky enough to float with Travis Scott above the party island.

The video game industry was a 180 billion dollar business last year. That is more than music and sports combined. 

The video game industry was a 180 billion dollar business last year. That is more than music and sports combined. 

I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed, that it would be possible to go to an actual music festival next summer. But if even after the pandemic music festival crowds seem smaller, you might want to take a look at Fortnite.

That’s where the youth are.

Laura Olin works in virtual reality but refuses to give up the paper newspaper. In her articles, Olin tackles new technology and phenomena related to it through a marketer’s glasses. 

First published on Markkinointiuutiset in March 2021.