I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I sincerely am.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe, forcing many into “Shelter in Place” confinement in their homes, video games were mainstream, but still mostly seen as something only children and young adults enjoyed. They weren’t for ‘real adults’, who were expected by society to entertain themselves in more mature ways.
Yeah, that’s all out the window, now.
Being stuck in one’s home, whether you are working from home or not, has led many to rediscover the joys of gaming from their youth. It’s either that, or they are going stir crazy, and nobody wants that! Regardless, whether they just started playing to keep their kids entertained, or just needed something to do themselves, video games have become a major force in entertainment during this crisis.
I think we can thank three things for this:
- The Nintendo Switch
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Doom Eternal
The Switch is a very accessible and user-friendly gaming console, while “Animal Crossing” and “Doom Eternal” both launched at the perfect time, right as the pandemic was really ramping up in the US. This led to many seeking an escape from the grim statistics and omnipresent gloom of this situation, and what better way could there be to get your mind off of it all than playing the happiest game ever made, or destroying demons by the thousands?
Whichever means you might need to quell the darkness outside our doors, ACNH and DE have you covered!
But this hasn’t been the only means of escape many have sought. Tabletop Gaming, strangely enough, has also seen quite the resurgence of late. Now, one might understand that board games might see an uptick in popularity, as families seek ways to spend quality time together, without strangling each other.
That said, tabletiop roleplaying games, such as “Dungeons & Dragons” has also seen a rise in interest of late. In some cases, because families are looking for entertainment, such as with board games, but also because some are looking to connect with their friends online through gaming. They are using virtual tabletop software, such as Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, among others, to keep their current gaming sessions alive, or restart campaigns with groups that have gone astray over the years.
My own gaming group is using Discord to play together, for instance. We aren’t currently using a Virtual Tabletop, as we’ve always been more of a Theater of the Mind sort of group. That said, we do need the voice communications of Discord to be able to play, and we are using the Dice Maiden bot in Discord, to roll our dice virtually. This makes it easy for us to record our podcast, “Knights of the Tabletop”, which we used to record in my brother’s living room.
Obviously, we can’t do that right now.
Unfortunately, even if we wanted to, there is no virtual tabletop software that includes “Feng Shui 2” (our current game of choice), so we’d have to cobble something together, and I’m just not up to that. Instead, we’ll make do with Discord, and call it good. The only real downside to using Discord is not being able to see each other, since most of our group either doesn’t have, or refuses to use, a webcam.
In the end, however you play these games remotely online, they are no substitute for playing in person.
Anyway, I find it quite encouraging that people are turning to games as solace during these dark times. Perhaps when all this is over, people will have a different view of gaming as a whole, and continue to embrace the hobby as they are now? We can only hope.