How gaming has helped students cope with the coronavirus.
It has been seven months since the beginning of quarantine; a long journey of boredom and anxiety. A constant period of not knowing what to do or what will happen. Since quarantine, there has been an increase in online gaming. Staying cooped inside with the pandemic and the California fires, students cope with the coronavirus through a variety of games spanning the months-long quarantine.
Schools across the country began closing, the beginning of a months-long quarantine. Students were met with an increased amount of free time and boredom with the absence of school. Many turned to a rising new game: Animal Crossing New Horizons.
“In the newest game, you have your own island and you try to just make your island look as nice as possible. And you catch bugs and fish and things like that,” Kate Rafael (10) explains. Rafael shares that she has been playing Animal Crossing for a while. “[My sister and I] played on the Wii,” she continues. However, lately she tends to play more with her friends. “It gives me a chance to bond with my friends a lot,” Rafael says, explaining the benefits of playing Animal Crossing.
During the pandemic, a sense of routine and productivity was lost. However, another Animal Crossing player, Wenchi Lai (12), shares why she likes the game, saying “I could invest my time into building a house or building, [an] achievement in some way.” Unlike Rafael, Lai does not play much with friends, but she finds a creative outlet through the game. “There’s a lot of things you can’t afford in real life and in Animal Crossing it’s like 400 bells and I’m like ‘Okay, I’m gonna make a mansion,’” Lai (12) shares.
A couple months of quarantine passed and students are still confined indoors. They find solace in the growing sensation of Among Us.
“The game is a little like mafia or spyfall; there’s 1-3 imposters depending on the setting. Players could choose their settings and choose their own characters. The imposters’ goal is to kill almost all the crewmates before the crewmates finish all of their tasks, and the crewmates have to figure out who the imposters are while finishing their tasks.” Grace Zhen (11), a frequent Among Us player, describes.
Despite being released in 2018, the game did not gain much attention and popularity until August of 2020. “It’s popular because during Covid there’s not a lot of fun social interactions, so Among Us provided a way for people to relax and have a sense of normalcy.” Zhen says.
Yet, video games have always been popular among teens, not only during a pandemic.
An avid Minecraft player, James Liu (11) has been playing since 4th grade. “I started playing it because it was trendy and cool, everyone was playing it, and I wanted to be included. But after it was not cool, I never stopped playing because it was an escape from the real world.” Liu shares.
Unlike Liu, frequent gamer Monica Shieh (11) enjoys playing a variety of video games. Most recently, Stardew Valley. “Stardew Valley is a farming game where the premise is basically farming, but there’s a lot more aspects to it, such as befriending the villager NPCs or trying to repair the town community center. I actually started playing because my friend bought it, so we’re doing a co-op game where multiple people work on a single farm,” Shieh illustrates. “When I’m playing it’s easy to temporarily forget about current problems I’d otherwise be stressing over.” Shieh continues.
However, as much as all these games may be different they all have one thing in common. They bring a sense of comfort during these unpredictable times. They provide an escape from reality; an escape from the stress of homework, the worry from the coronavirus, and the concern for the upcoming election.