How Video Games Help Us Cope During COVID-19
The WHO, the World Health Organization, which has warned about the risks of an excessive amount of gaming, recently launched #PlayApartTogether, partnering with major gaming studios to encourage people to remain home. The step helps build online communities like the f95zone gaming community which is composed of gamers all around the world.
With that said, we contacted several game industry insiders and students to supply us with some insight into gaming during times of physical isolation.
GAMING CONNECTIONS AND BENEFITS
Video games have a variety of social and psychological benefits. These games often encourage or require players to figure together towards a goal, which might foster a way of community and camaraderie.
In addition to twiddling with people from around the world, video games provide spaces where friends and families can meet virtually. Games like Nintendo’s recently released Animal Crossing: New Horizons, allow players to fulfill, socialize, and complete in-game tasks together on a virtual island. This enables friends and family to pre-arrange a time to play and meet.
While the foremost commonly played games on Steam remain highly competitive, fast-paced action games, there are many computer game genres to suit virtually any play style.
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Leaf Corcoran, the founding father of indie game website itch.io, posted to Twitter that several of the site’s games may well be downloaded and played free.
When asked what he’s noticed since the beginning of the pandemic and physical distancing, Corcoran said that user activity is “way up” which people are participating in “stay-at-home” themed computer game development jams. He summarized the community response by saying:
Game developers are equipped to try and do that by sharing their work, which happens to be something people can do while staying reception and access through their computers.”
RISKS AND OUTCOMES
While video games could also be useful for battling isolation, there are some potential risks. As communications scholars Kishonna Gray and Emma Vossen have noted, online spaces are often incredibly toxic, particularly for players from marginalized communities.
More time spent online, therefore, runs the danger of increased exposure to toxicity. While online harassment could be a serious issue for adults, it’s potentially worse for younger players. In an email exchange, Rachel Kowert, supervisor of Take This (a mental state and video games resource organization), notes that oldsters of young children, particularly, should “take advantage of the assorted parental controls regarding chat, by turning off the chat completely or by only letting them connect and chat with people they know in their offline lives.”
Another potential concern for fogeys is also increased in-game purchases, like loot boxes, downloadable content, or microtransactions. For adults, increased stress can even cause increased game-related spending, including impulse purchases. So as to stay purchases in check, players should consider tracking spending or disabling in-app or in-game purchases.