Yes, we did play more video games during the pandemic.

Gaming During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic affected our lives in many ways, including how we choose to spend our time and deal with unprecedented circumstances. During this period gaming quickly emerged as one of the most popular activities and user engagement and spending surged. According to an online survey, it was seen that the time spent playing games increased for 71% of respondents, while 58% of respondents reported that playing games has impacted their well-being and majority of responses indicated a positive impact. Especially younger generations of Gen Z and Millennials spent more time on gaming as a medium was a convenient way to spend time.

Games as a Social Platform

Gaming contributed by providing cognitive stimulation and opportunities to socialize, and a variety of benefits related to mental health, including reduced anxiety and stress. This further highlighted the sociocultural significance of video games and the potentially positive nature of games’ effects on well-being. All the big games now act as standalone social media platforms. Nowadays, people play games with an ulterior motive of interacting with their friends – they can have a digital social life in the absence of a real social life and meet friends of friends and others who become gamer friends. The social value of gaming right now is at an all-time high and is driving consumption and spending exponentially.

Gaming Sales Post-COVID-19

It has been observed that nearly all major gaming companies generated most of their recent revenues via digital content. This development is not only due to COVID-19 – the industry has continuously been making inroads to live service revenues and in-game monetization. However, over the past few years, gamers have used these services voluminously leading to many holdouts to finally embracing digital purchases. As of June 2020, time spent video gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic an increase by double digits has been observed in all regions of the world.
Multiplayer games have proven to be a hit during the pandemic, and the time spent on popular gaming genres has drastically increased. A survey of European gaming audiences found that playing video games during lockdown made people feel less isolated and happier overall. Especially people engaged in online multiplayer players felt positive about their experiences during the tough period.

The Community Gaming Experience

In the 1950s, Roger Caillois identified mimicry as one of four ludic activities that characterize games, referring to how the player ‘escapes the real world and creates another.’ More contemporary work on video games, specifically, has also revealed escapism as a motivation for play, suggesting that the ability to immerse oneself in another world is appealing to players irrespective of a global pandemic.
Gaming livestreams are inherently social as the ability interact with others via chat enhances the shared feeling of experiencing a game together. Likewise, choosing to play games on the basis of their potential for socialization is strongly reflected in the discussion of games and well-being. Gaming is now more social than ever. For instance, a guy shielding a family member diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic, shared ‘The escapism from the current situation is helping as my attention isn’t focused on COVID or going on social media and feeling negatively about others’ perceptions of keeping safe.’
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