A LOOK AT HOW GAMING TURNED INTO A GREAT LOCKDOWN ESCAPE AMID A PANDEMIC
Shoot! The pandemic box has been opened and your quest is to stay at home away from the virus. Will you press [X] to jump into a life of solitude at home free from the dangers of the outside world? Or [O] to dash your way into a fun experience in the virtual world?
Our lives literally took a spin when the outbreak left everyone boxed at home. With most TV shows on replay due to a pause in production and cinemas are closed for a while, people are left with very few options for entertainment. Some took on the planting trend, then there’s some who pursued a passion in the kitchen, and then there were gamers who took to their devices to find pleasure.
It’s quite clear that the gaming industry has received a boost in the market and it’s all because of isolation. While parents might find it a burden with the rise of “gaming disorder” as a threat for kids nowadays, gaming also plays a vital role in nurturing them as well at the time of COVID-19.
Isolation keeps people away from social interaction; but that’s not the norm nowadays with the help of the internet. Today, there’s MMO games from phones to gaming systems that let people play in small to large groups by interacting online. New games such as Valorant, APEX Legends, Fortnite and some mobile apps like the widely-used Mobile Legends and Ragnarok Mobile are just some that lets you interact and make friends with co-gamers. The stereotypical notion of a loner gamer has become blurry with today’s power of connectivity. Gone are the trends of computer shop gaming because most can now afford to play at the palm of their hands with the right amount of data.
Last of Us 2
Playstation had its Days of Play campaign to keep people entertained while at home and decrease their chances of going out. During its period, a couple of games went on sale with some totally free of charge. And then, a number of highly-anticipated RPGs came out including Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Persona V Royal and The Last of Us Part II. Then they released a new platform for gaming with the Playstation Now that lets you stream a vault of games all with a single payment.
All this anticipation ultimately paid off as they released these during the quarantine so everyone was raving on about their systems and Twitching their experience for everyone to feel the thrill. And that’s the best thing about today’s gaming: it has become a celebration for gamers to share their experience on social media with peers. It’s a boost of confidence and acceptance that co-gamers relate to and find refuge with each other’s passions even at a time of crisis. The gaming industry definitely used a lot of tricks for the past months to help boost the morale of people at home including the work-from-home students and employees.
Then there’s also a rise in Nintendo Switch users for its compact and sleek design. A handy gaming platform that houses a lot of indie games at a low cost. It’s interesting how these platforms provide niche gaming businesses the chance to grow in the market.
Through their e-shop, games from previous years and platforms like Cuphead, Stardew Valley, Undertale, Bioshock, and SNES classics were ported for today’s gamers. It’s truly nostalgic and refreshing to relive classics while locked at home and reminisce on the grand scheme of gaming technology through the years.
And perhaps the most raved game through the quarantine period is Animal Crossing New Horizons. The franchise that started in 2001 enters the 20s with a bang with its fun, light, and colorful gameplay where you live the island life. With everyone boxed at home, gamers leapt into their own private virus-free islands. It has set itself in Switch history with the biggest launch sales beating the titular Mario franchise and Zelda series of Nintendo. There, you work hard, play hard, meet interesting characters, and build your house with customized designs. It’s a refreshing experience that keeps us occupied for a while during a depressing lockdown and that’s okay because everyone needs a breather nowadays.
In fact, even celebrities like Elijah Wood and Brie Larson were known to play it because of the Turnip Exchange that people are competitively seeking and negotiating for. Even establishments like Ayala Museum and Singapore’s Sentosa began to move into the island to promote their causes and businesses by using the customization feature in the game. Plus just when it becomes routinary, they’ve consistently updated the game to bring in more fun with new features like swimming in the sea and spotting real art from fake.
With all these said, it’s interesting how the rise in gamers has led us into finding a whole new life and reality through games. Even at the expense of game addiction, it’s always a matter of finding the right balance between fun, work, and life that weighs in on the context of how gaming is relevant in today’s society.