The Impact of 3D Printing on the Gaming Industry

Written by Chanda Lalwani

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Posted on July 05 2021

With millions of people under lockdown for most of 2020, it’s no surprise that the global gaming industry’s revenue hit $165 billion for the year. An estimated 2.7 billion gamers worldwide enjoy classic card games, tabletop quests, mobile apps, and video games as a way to de-stress and even connect with friends — albeit virtually.

The gaming industry is also leveling up through 3D printing. Additive manufacturing enables many gamers to democratize their play through personalized pieces, unique accessories, and custom-built controllers. Here are a few ways 3D printing is changing the gaming industry:


Printing Out Board Games & Accessories

STL File by jimsbeanz from Thingiverse

It’s very easy to misplace or break tiny plastic bits commonly used in board games and tabletop games; while keys, buttons, and joysticks are prone to breakage during high-energy play. Fortunately, the online gaming community offers free STL files of models, guides, and walkthroughs to help you print your own parts, miniatures, and figurines. Just getting started with resin 3D printing? Here’s everything you need to know.

With 3D printing, you can print out entire board game accessories such as a dice tower, missing game pieces such as dice, craft desk supports for longer gaming, or even boost comfort for visually impaired gamers by 3D printing tactile symbols and braille dice with the help of the Sonic Mini 4K. Click here to learn more about how 3D printing can assist those with disabilities.


Personalized Game Pieces

Photo Courtesy of Tiger Skull RPG

Creating figurines and toys is one of the oldest uses for 3D printing, so it’s not hard to imagine how additive manufacturing can be applied to board games, tabletop role-playing games (RPGs), and even classic card games. Customization is a popular way to use 3D printing; you can design your own chess sets with personalized versions of the pieces or model a character figurine after yourself.

One custom project that has become popular is the creation of custom 3D printed poker chips. This is unsurprising as poker has skyrocketed in popularity since the pandemic began. In fact, Google searches for online poker reached a five-year peak during the pandemic, with more people finding ways to stay entertained and socialize from home. Customized pieces could make your online poker games with friends more exciting, especially for virtual poker Zoom nights. And you can continue to use your custom poker chips even after the pandemic ends.


Reinventing Retro Games

Classic, old school games are making a comeback through “retrogaming,” where people play games on almost obsolete consoles in contemporary times. Many gamers are rediscovering old games, but it can be difficult to find the devices you used to love. 3D printing allows you to design and scale down retro machines or arcade games to suit your environment.

3D models can give you arcade sticks and massive buttons on a compact toy so they’re not clunky to keep at home. In fact, it can even be a creative challenge to reinvent arcade games. For one, you can reinvent old school, miniaturized pinball machines incorporating your own designs and preferences. And why stop at one? You can reinvent different variations of tabletop – and even handheld – pinball machines. Before you know it, you could have a mini retro arcade at home.


Creating Original Tabletop Games

Retrieving old pieces and reviving old games are great applications of 3D printing, but it can also add plenty of brand new things into the mix as well. Tabletop game players may want to produce and prototype original tabletop RPGs to exercise their creativity during the lockdown.

You can plan the gameplay from start to finish, then design the game’s landscape, props, monsters, and other elements for a rich, world-building experience. Once you’ve finalized your concept, you can 3D print your game terrain and tabletop pieces with Phrozen’s Sonic Mighty 3D printer. Now, you can add “tabletop game inventor” to your list of accomplishments.

For more applications of resin 3D printing, check out other articles from our blog.

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