Two PlayStation 4 Dualshock controllers. Image from the public domain.

Love and Video Games in the Era Of COVID-19

20 years ago, no one would have believed that a female Congresswoman would be playing a video game to raise awareness for informed voting. 

Video games have proved to be a unique way of connecting the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the beginning of the quarantine, as friends and families struggled to learn how to stay connected, many found a way to do so through gaming. 

With the March release of the game Animal Crossing: New Horizons from Nintendo, friends and family could visit each other on virtual islands. Some people even went on socially distant dates via Animal Crossing islands. This game was a great help to the individual as well, as it promoted the completion of small goals and daily habits, which helps to improve mental health. These tasks were beneficial for those who had drastically less to do during the quarantine.

Interaction via games like this was especially encouraged by the World Health Organization’s #PlayApartTogether campaign. This was a movement created to promote the practice of social distancing and to help flatten the curve, which many video game companies supported with deals and discounts on games. 

Virtual game nights with friends still occur frequently after quarantine. 

One FCC student, Iana Martin, still has regular nights playing games like Among Us with family across the state and the country. 

Twitch, an online streaming platform, has also created a sense of community. Watching popular streamers play games online, a person can interact with the person recording as well as others who are watching via a live chat. 

Some users of Minecraft have even recreated theme parks, like Disneyland, complete with attractions new and old for others to ride. The Disneyland server has special seasonal celebrations and hundreds of users that join it daily.

This sort of gaming has made it into modern media. Talk show hosts got tours around celebrities Animal Crossing Islands during the height of quarantine. Even Time magazine did a piece on how games have become more popular. 

Most notably, on October 30, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (also known as AOC), D-NY, played the game Among Us, collaborating with other Twitch streamers to promote voter registration and informed voting. 

While some health care professionals have concerns about gaming becoming a bad coping mechanism, many claim that it leaves a good impact and promotes community. 

One Maryland high school teacher, who chose to stay anonymous, insisted that students ultimately prefer in person gatherings to online ones, since they are on the computer all day for classes. 

Of course, everything is good in moderation. However, now with Maryland moving back toward Stage 1, it is very helpful to have pre-established ways to connect with friends and family if everyone has to go back into quarantine. 

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