Game changer – definition and meaning

A game changer is a new factor that changes the variables in an environment or activity. It is a new element that alters the existing situation or activity considerably. For example, the invention of the steam engine was a game changer in transportation, mining, agriculture, and manufacturing. In other words, the steam engine changed how people traveled, farmed, mined, and made things.

In sports, such as soccer (British English: football), a game changer is somebody who comes into a match and changes everything. Perhaps the team was losing, but when John, a substitute, came in, the team drew and then began to win.

According to, a game changer is:

“A person or idea that transforms the accepted rules, processes, strategies, and management of business functions. Typically leads a movement of related businesses in the same direction.

Video explanation:

A game changer – the Internet 1

The Internet began to spread rapidly in the 1990s. In the world of business, especially retail, it has been a major game changer.

The whole retail landscape has changed since the 1990s. Online retail giant did not exist before 1994. The dominant shops and stores, in those days, consisted of physical buildings. Until about twenty-five years ago, online shopping did not exist.

Today, is one of the world’s largest companies in the retail sector.

Game Changer - definition plus some examples
A game changer alters an environment or activity significantly. There are many more examples than the ones in this image. For example, the combustion engine and electric light bulb were major game changers too.

Companies that did not adapt to the online world did not survive. Wikipedia has a list of hundreds of retailers in the United States that went out of business. Most of Wikipedia’s list consists of companies that went out of business after the Internet emerged.

A game changer – the Internet 2

Not only has the Internet changed how we do business, but it has also transformed our everyday lives. In fact, it has turned human existence upside down.

The Internet has revolutionized how we communicate with one another. Today, communicating online is the preferred medium.

We use the Internet for almost everything we do, including shopping, watching movies and shows, and getting the latest news.

Most young people and many adults go online for their leisure time entertainment. We even do a major proportion of our meal delivery ordering online.

People today get reminders about their doctor’s appointment on their smartphones. Smartphone communication means that street demonstrations can be organized rapidly.

In fact, there have been many cases since the year 2000 of protesting crowds suddenly emerging in the streets. At first, the police were surprised and unprepared. However, recently, they have learned to adapt to this game changer in the world of law and order.

Video – The Steam Engine, a game changer

This ‘It’s History’ video explains how the steam engine changed the societies and economies of the world.