By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: Spending money on online games and participating in social media challenges has surged with the advent of technological advancements worldwide, especially in the realm of online gaming. Countries like Saudi Arabia invested over $3 billion in this sector just last year. Concurrently, social media has capitalized on this global interest in gaming by incorporating live interactions between users and introducing tools that enable users to exchange gifts (money), resulting in a significant influx of funds.
While these developments have turned the industry into a multibillion-dollar behemoth, especially due to Generation Alpha (born after 2010), there remain some members of the millennial generation (born between 1981-1996) who are not entirely convinced about spending money on social media challenges and online games. Kuwait Times interviewed millennials to gauge their interest in these expenditures, with older respondents highlighting the challenges they face, given that they grew up during a time when video games were more affordable and prices were cheaper.
They also noted that their willingness to embrace this spending behavior often depended on the attitudes of the younger generation, particularly Generation Alpha and Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2010), which includes their children and siblings. The prevalence of spending habits among these younger generations has influenced their decision to adapt to the changing landscape.
Rawan Essa, 34, admitted that she had never considered spending money on online games, but several factors led her to reconsider, especially since she enjoys online games without being addicted to them. “I believe that online game creators have understood this issue and have worked on enhancing their techniques to tempt us (the older generation) into changing our minds, ultimately making us want to spend money,” she said. “Once you start, you never stop, especially when most games offer items at affordable prices, often not exceeding KD 1 to 2, and sometimes even less.
It becomes an unstoppable spending behavior,” she added. Omar Khaled, 37, initially resisted allowing his children to spend money on online games. However, he noticed that his kids felt left out among their peers, and the social aspect played a pivotal role in changing his perspective. “After a while, I tried playing online games myself, and over time, I found myself spending money on them. I also know people who engage in social media challenges, but their motive is to earn money. Nonetheless, I consider this an unethical way to make a living,” he said.
Resistance to the Idea
On the other hand, the online gaming industry still faces challenges in gaining the approval and trust of millennials to adopt this new spending behavior, which could open up new revenue streams for them. Ansam Ali, 34 years old, expressed her reluctance to engage in this spending behavior, as she believes that simply using online platforms for gaming already benefits these companies, not to mention the deluge of advertisements from major corporations that capitalize on users’ interests. “It’s another way for these companies to take advantage of people’s hobbies, essentially a form of exploitation,” she argued.
Hussain Abdullah, 29, echoed Ansam’s sentiments, describing these companies as engaging in deceptive practices and viewing such expenditures as wasteful. Regarding social media challenges, he stressed that participation is a personal decision but noted that the younger generation is the most active on social media due to differing personal convictions. Additionally, he pointed out that participation depends on individuals’ financial situations, geographical locations and their desire for quick profits, although he considers it an unethical means of earning money.