A reader celebrates the end of lockdown and how video games have helped the world cope with the horrors, and boredom, of the coronavirus.
With the pandemic forcing most of society indoors over the past year, the video game industry has seen an inevitable boost in sales, as many people turn to the relative comfort of their consoles while seeking refuge amongst fantastical universes online.
As the latest gaming trailers streamed live across the internet this week, thousands of strangers tuned in simultaneously, from across the world, to watch event streams such as State of Play. They eagerly awaited the latest announcements from the safety of their living rooms, excited for a new distraction from the pandemic just outside the door.
Where government-enforced social distancing has been the focus for the past year, due to the coronavirus, video games have provided an outlet for our distraction and, at times, our frustration. Where social calendars have been impacted we have instead donned our headsets and ventured online to chat in forums, team up with friends or just to share a sense of community.
The glittering world of video games has become a sanctuary where there was previously only four walls, the occasional Zoom meeting and Netflix with your immediate family. When in doubt, treasure hunting in the wild, fighting through hordes of zombies or swashbuckling on the high seas could take you far away from the real world, even if just for a few hours.
It is an unintentional symptom of the pandemic that we have all spent more time indoors discovering new hobbies. Many industries have struggled throughout the global crisis – multimedia included – yet the latest game trailers are a testament to the perseverance of gaming studios who have continued working hard behind the scenes, despite the obvious challenges.
Techland, the company behind Dying Light 2: Stay Human, even introduced their gameplay with some irony saying that ‘like the rest of the world, they had some unforeseen hurdles to clear’ when finishing their viral apocalypse-meets-parkour game which experienced delays due to the real-life viral pandemic. It certainly feels as if life has been imitating art lately, with masks and sanitiser in our inventory and avoiding the general public – as if zombies have descended on the local supermarket.
After a difficult year full of ever-changing regulations, limited social interactions and increasing loneliness, video games are a shining beacon in an otherwise dark world. Where previously gaming was a hobby for a smaller minority, it has flourished in mainstream culture with recognisable and popular characters like Sonic the Hedgehog & Spider-Man leading the charge.
Where social gatherings at the pub now require extensive planning, online friendships have provided much-needed support and an element of escapism while adventuring in endless digital locations. With recent studies from Oxford University suggesting that video games can benefit your mental health, it’s no surprise that so many people are taking refuge in technology during the continuing pandemic.
With modern consoles capable of such realistic graphics and immersive design you really do feel transported to another time while playing video games. And when the real world is changing beyond all recognition, a little bit of escapism really is just what the doctor ordered.
By reader Nikki Zawada
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