Game Boy? What is that?

I grew up playing old school Nintendo. My favorite game? Duck Hunt. I would spend hours at a time holding the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun as close to the television as possible to hopefully knock down a duck or clay pigeon. I remember when Game Boys were all the rage and you had to blow inside your game cartridge to make sure it worked properly. I’m most comfortable with console games, but clearly the industry has changed over the years and it’s booming online. 

This week, the market research firm NPD Group distributed a study that showed that one out of every five Americans over the age of six has played an online social game at least once. That’s nearly 60 million Americans! That figure leads me to believe that consoles, like Game Boys, will soon be a thing of the past and games will strictly be played online. To back up my point, most of the NPD study respondents had never played a traditional video game and 35% had no previous gaming experience whatsoever.

With games like Duck Hunt, practice made perfect; you didn’t have the option to buy skills or items that would make you a better player. Today, gamers can buy virtual goods to improve their game play. The virtual goods market has become a cash cow and Mashable reports that by 2013 it is expected to hit $6 billion in sales. Now, games provide entertainment and cash rewards.

Do you prefer a console or focus exclusively on social games? I predict that user adoption of social gaming will continue to rise and one day, kids will wonder why their parents ever played games on a television screen.

-Contributed by Jena Coletti. Follow her @jmcoletti.