Online games have become a big part of our pandemic lives

From pandemic socialization to major lawsuits, video games have been causing a stir over the past year.

“I used to play almost exclusively narrative or single player games. And I started playing more multiplayer games with friends, social games. So it could be like board games on Jackbox for example that you can play on Zoom, or Among Us, which is on multiple platforms, but started on PC, which is a social deduction game between friends, ”said Elise Favis, a games journalist. Spark host Nora Young.

Favis, now a features editor at Fanbyte Media, has reported on the commercial gaming industry during the pandemic. And she’s not the only one whose gambling habits have changed in the past year. Favis says a lot of people are using the game for socializing right now.

Elise Favis reported on some of the problems facing the commercial gaming industry during the pandemic. (Washington Post)

“I’ve noticed pretty much since March of last year when the pandemic really started to happen [that] people were turning to games that they could interact with friends or make new friends, “ she says.

Animal crossing: new horizons by Nintendo was released in March 2020, and sold over 11 million copies in just 12 days. Community play involves people coming together to build themselves up and interact with each other.

Twitch has also seen an increase in its usage during the pandemic. In April 2021, there were more than 2.2 billion hours of content watched, an absolute record for the platform.

In addition to the social engagement that play offers, Favis says, over the course of a year of distance learning, some educators have also turned to these tools to help with teaching. “I think most of the time especially parents see video games as a distraction or give their kids a lot of screen time that might be unwanted.”

Last year, Favis wrote about a high school teacher in Montreal who redirected his school trip to Greece to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. He took his class on a virtual tour of ancient Greece using the educational mode of the game. “In some ways [it] maybe even better than going in person, just with all the extra educational information there.

“You can play the story, which is fictional, but then you have the educational mode based on fact and history, visit different monuments and learn about different historical figures and things like that.

“So these experiences can actually be very sophisticated and used in different creative ways. “

Favis hopes this relationship between educators and game developers continues after the pandemic. For example, the Minecraft educational sequel, which existed long before the pandemic, was made available to educators for free last year.

Another example is Dreams, a game creation system created by UK studio Media Molecule. It allows users to create their own interactive experiences and share them with community and friends. And some people use it for educational purposes.

The challenges of the gaming industry

But as people play more games during this time, Favis says the industry itself faces some real challenges.

Along with delayed releases of titles, such as The Last of Us Part II and Infinite halo, ranging from a month to a year, Favis says the cancellation of the video game industry’s biggest events, like the Game Developers Conference and E3, has left creators, developers and publishers with no space to display and market their games in person.

“And the independent developers, I would say they’re probably the ones who have suffered the most from the pandemic because they’re the least financially stable. And they don’t have a publisher like a big video game company would. really only have themselves.

“So if you’re interested in releasing the next game, you’re going to watch a live broadcast about it. But most of the time those live broadcasts are full of information. [and] it’s happening at a rapid pace. “

Favis says that often indie games are given short time slots in these streams, when at a convention they would be in a showroom for several days. and people try them. “They just matter more there.”

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