Gaming has always been popular, but this has increased exponentially over the last few years. Whereas gaming was once seen as 'geeky' and 'uncool,' nowadays, geeky IS cool. You can blame the huge rise of comics and 'cosplay' conventions such as Comic Con for contributing to this massive change in perception.
In days of yore, a good friend of mine sold pirated VHS movies at school. As a 15-year-old it didn't matter that the image was black & white and that the only thing I could really see was the Chinese subtitles; what mattered was that I got to watch a film a week before it was released at the theatres.
Recent statistics suggest that 82% of people think it's acceptable to watch pirated TV shows, and the growing piracy rates back this up: the season premiere of Game of Thrones was watched illegally over one million times, compared to just over four million legitimate views, with foreign interest in the series being a large cause.