The video-game industry revenues are estimated to reach $179.7 billion this year.
We often hear that video games are the reason the youth of today are lazy and don’t want to be engaged and give back to their community.
It’s no secret that kids love video games, but instead of criticizing video games, we could be using them to attract the next generation of fire service professionals. What if your station was the cool hang out spot for the youth in your community? Perhaps it’s time we embrace the video game culture and find a way to incorporate it into our fire stations.
Investment in state-of-the-art technology has proven to boost recruitment and retention within organizations. Imagine if you had a media room in your station that looked like the photo on this page. That could change the game.
Michael Frank, Director of Audio Visual with Collaborative Technology Solutions (CTS), believes the future of the industry is heading towards integrating with state-of-the-art technology. “The Marines are now incorporating these types of media rooms into their designs because the future generations demand it. These rooms have 15 to 20 big screen televisions in each room where the Marines can gather to play any video console they want. They can play each other in the room or online with their friends across the world. The future generations care about being connected.”
Michael believes the youth of today want to be engaged in the community, but the community is not providing them with the things they need to be engaged. So, what does the youth need in their media room to be engaged? Here are a few essentials.
High Speed Internet
If you have a station that has slow internet or no internet at all, you are not going to appeal to the next generation of firefighters. They are accustomed to having access to the internet for most of the things they do. Without it, engagement will be minimal.
Multiple Large Screen Televisions
The bigger the better and the more the better. The youth want to be able to all play video games at the same time, not sit around and watch someone else play. They want large screen TVs that have access to video streaming services like YouTube.
Your station needs to have the top three gaming consoles, not just one. Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch are the leading consoles in the market today. Youth want options including the most up-to-date games. Build money into your annual budget to purchase the new games which can cost up to $70 each.
The youth like to play games, music and videos as loud as possible. Make your media room soundproof so it doesn’t bother the rest of the station but big, loud speakers are a must.
Being able to dim the lights and change the color of the lights is a big deal to the youth today. Dark black lights that make the screens easier to see, and colored LED strip lighting can enhance the appeal of the space.
In addition to video games, you will need some gaming stations with multiple monitors for those that want to play games on their computers or watch videos. And just like the TVs, they need to be big.
If there are multiple games going on at once, you will need headsets for each gaming station.
Making sure you buy comfortable furniture for the media room is a must. You should even consider buying some gaming chairs specifically designed for playing video games.
The media room could also be used for the fire department for training and virtual meetings. Commonly used conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams and ZOOM can easily be utilized in a media room with the addition of microphones and USB cameras. If you can run a training class for your department from one station or location and offer the option to attend virtually at other stations or online at home, that would be a big advantage.
The key to building a great media room is working with a professional that can help guide you through the process. If you are building a new fire station or renovating, you can work with your design build team to come up with a flexible media room that will fit into your budget. Your design build team will partner with a technology professional like CTS to ensure the most up-to-date technology is used.
Recruiting the next generation to fire services can be easier if you can provide the things they need to be engaged. In the end, the youth of today wants to be engaged. They just need the right environment.