In a pre-Yelp and Google world, families would simply get in the car and go for a drive to find an indoor amusement park, which usually offered amenities like a laser tag and arcade. Back then, these indoor amusement parks were massive facilities that also incorporated other sports like batting cages, an ice rink, a giant indoor playground, or one of those huge indoor spiderweb crawls. These establishments were like Dave and Busters but enormous.
Kids used to love playing arcade games that dispensed winning tickets which could be cashed in for prizes. Remember the Chinese finger traps? The snap bracelets? How about the Army guy with the parachute? While it seemed like these magical indoor amusement parks would stay open forever, in the late 90′s to mid 2000′s, they had all systematically shut down.
So, why did the Millennial kids suddenly abandon those big complexes they once loved? The reason why all of these indoor amusement parks began shutting down is because there was a great shift in technology, economics, and trends. Owners who sold their businesses before the bust walked away with enormous funds while those who were unable to understand why these centers were closing went under.
Indoor Amusement Parks Prediction: To put it simply, the next generation of kids were uninterested in these places because they had their own games at home. Our beloved arcade games, laser tag, and ticket prizes suddenly became a thing of the past. You better bet there’s quite a few business owners who’d wish they’d seen that coming.
But, but, but…bock in it’s heyday, laser tag and gaming facilities felt sorta futuristic… right?
PAST/PRESENT: LATE-MILLENNIAL LAN GAMERS
Online multiplayer console gaming systems like Xbox Live was the most significant milestone in gaming history. Can you believe Xbox Live was launched in 2002?
Online gaming opened up a whole new world to the gaming community and a new epidemic of gaming addictions in our youth (the digital natives) started becoming a leading concern for parents. If you think about it, gaming systems didn’t start going online until the late 2000′s, which is exactly when the indoor amusement parks began to close down. Why go play and meet local kids when you can make friends all over the world while playing XBox or WoW from home?
When parents realized their kids didn’t want to go outside for days because of their gaming habits, they began to seriously worry. Then arrived a solution. Over in Asia,LAN gaming centers (multiplayer gaming center businesses) were incredibly popular and were a creative solution so gamers could socialize. These LAN centers began popping up all over the place and became the arcades of today. Gen Z kids, as well as Millennials, often visit LAN gaming centers to game alone, with friends, or participate in gaming competitions, which are very popular in Asia.
Gaming Prediction: Gaming will soon take a giant leap when Oculus Rift arrives. It’s likely that virtual gaming competition teams become popularized (almost like Tron). If you want an idea of just how real and incredible gaming will be soon, read The Oculus Rift Game That Nearly Destroyed Me (Wired).
PRESENT: GENERATION Z APPS AND MAKERS
Have you wondered why new kids shows are being digitally released instead of television? This is because Generation Z kids, aka post-Milennials are the first generation to be mostly desktop and TV-free. These kids are on-the-go constantly in their digital world, exchanging conversation and creativity solely through apps like KiK, Snapchat, Instagram, and so on.
Unlike previous generations, Generation Z kids won’t be tied down to just one form of entertainment (the only rule is that they must have a smartphone or tablet to play with). These kids will bounce from app to app all day long where they socialize, share photos, draw, paint, and cultivate their interests.
Right now, a new trend is emerging called the maker culture. Makers (which I’ll explain in detail in my next post) are a new DIY culture that uses emerging technologies such as arduino, e-textiles, and 3D printing to create techy arts and crafts.
If you want to be a true Futurista™ then you better start learning how to tinker! Over these next few years, it will be easier than ever to create nearly anything you can dream of right from home using 3D printing technology and these other crafts. For inspiration, check out the Tetris t-shirt (someone made that).
One of the soon-to-be booming businesses are maker centers, community centers that will offer access to state of the art 3D printers, robotics, arduino, E-textiles, CNC tools, as well as classes and workshops. Maker centers are an excellent investment at this time because they are a positive addition to any community, they unite family members of all ages, and they teach foundational skills of innovation and prototyping.
Apps and Makers Prediction: Welcome Little Innovators! It will become more popular than ever for kids to use apps to prototype new ideas and then visit maker centers with family and friends to reveal their finished products. Families will bond through this new maker subculture which will evolve very quickly.
FUTURE: GENERATION ALPHA AND MAKERSPACES
Generation Alpha (our youngest Earthlings) will grow into a very different world than our own. By 2025, it’s predicted that practically everything will be connected and considered a smart device. Our current transitioning to this ultra-connected world is known as UPgradia.
The great Terence McKenna said that in the future, we’ll likely spend most of our “real life” creating inside our virtual reality and he’s almost certainly right. It is likely that the maker culture will become an extension of our own virtual universe The Metaverse! andthat is already happening.
Jerry Castanos, CEO of 3D Heights in Washington Heights, New York City said that many kids are already using 3D printers to bring their online gaming prizes into reality. 3D Heights offers courses on 3D printing which I highly recommend! Kids are already 3D printing Minecraft prizes.
The future is already here.
Check out some 3D printers and books on maker stuffs in The Future Shop.
Written by Miss Metaverse as guest blogger.
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