In the spring of 2020, when most of the world was in the grip of COVID-19, gaming took off at an incredibly fast pace, even with people that had never considered this activity in the past, increasing the time they spent during the day on this kind of entertainment. With everything on lockdown, most started to find other activities to keep themselves occupied and maintain their social connections.
Gaming is a misunderstood hobby, often painted with the wrong brush and stereotyped as being isolating and unsociable (Skwarczek, 2020) never have we could imagine how this recreational activity would find its way into a lot of households during a global pandemic.
How gaming increased because of COVID 19
Video games are fun and interesting, and when you link that with the ability to connect during times when isolation was playing a big part of our lives, it’s no surprise that not only did the gaming industry increase its revenue but also that people were finding solace in this activity.
Gaming has always been a way of escapism and therapy for many, but during 2020, even those without access to gaming consoles were able to immerse themselves in the world of gaming and feel like a part of the community, in games such as Among Us, Animal Crossing and Fall Guys.
There was a 200% increase in the number of people aged over 60 searching for games (…) joining the 93% of under 18s who admitted to gaming regularly (Danise, 2021)
We noticed an increase in traffic, especially in our social games such as Habbo and Hotel Hideaway, so when Covid-19 sent us home, and our users started to increase their time at Hotel Hideaway, we released the concert feature previously used successfully in Habbo to connect with our them.
Why Playing video games benefited mental health during a global pandemic
The very nature of gaming is socialization and now that we can have the opportunity to do this online, it also helps to connect with others when we are not together. “(The Pandemic) was perfect timing for games to grow in popularity,” said Sonka Reid, a Twitch streamer. “It deepened my sense of community.”2
There has been a lot of speculation on how much time people spend gaming, but because of the internet-connected nature of most of the current games, Oxford University was able to link psychological questionnaires with time spent playing games; “This is about bringing games into the fold of psychology research that’s not a dumpster fire” said Andrew Przybylski, the lead researcher on the project. “This lets us explain and understand games as a leisure activity.”
Isolation during the pandemic lead to mental health issues, and video games played a key role in connecting people with others, something very important for mental health; being able to be a part of a community and share the same goal, helped a lot of people to maintain their sanity during these difficult times.
- Skwarczek, Bartosz (2021). “How the gaming industry has leveled up during the pandemic”. Jun 17, 2021. From: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/06/17/how-the-gaming-industry-has-leveled-up-during-the-pandemic/?sh%3D4b380cda297c&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1648716628445636&usg=AOvVaw3BNKI92r_bUlFWiP5ffWF5
- Howard, Madeline (2021). “Ahead of the game”. Aug 1, 2021. From: https://www.scribd.com/article/519113587/Ahead-Of-The-Game
- Hern, Alex (2020). “Video gaming can benefit mental health, find Oxford academics”. Nov 16, 2020. From: https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/nov/16/video-gaming-can-benefit-mental-health-find-oxford-academics