From pandemic socializing to major lawsuits, video games have made a lot of news in the past year.
“I used to play almost exclusively narrative games or single player games. And I really started playing more multiplayer games with friends, social games. So it could be like company on Jackbox for example that you can play on Zoom, or Among Us, which is cross-platform but started on PC, which is a game of social deduction between friends,” said video game journalist Elise Favis. . Spark host Nora Young.
Favis, now a features editor at Fanbyte Media, has been reporting on the commercial gaming industry during the pandemic. And she’s not the only one whose gaming habits have changed over the past year. Favis says a lot of people are using the game to socialize right now.
“I noticed about since March of last year when the pandemic really started to happen [that] people were turning to games where they could interact with friends or make new friends,” she says.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Nintendo was released in March 2020, and sold over 11 million copies in just 12 days. Community play involves people coming together to build and interact with each other.
Twitch has also seen an increase in usage during the pandemic. In April 2021, there were more than 2.2 billion hours of content viewed, an all-time high for the platform.
In addition to the social engagement the game offers, Favis says, during a year of remote learning, some educators have also turned to these tools to help with teaching. “I think most of the time, especially parents, see video games as a distraction or giving their kids a lot of screen time that might be unwanted.”
Last year, favis wrote about a high school teacher in Montreal, who rerouted his school trip to Greece to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. He took his class on a virtual tour of ancient Greece using the game’s educational mode. “In some ways [it] might even be better than going in person, just with all the educational treats thrown in there.
“You can play the story, which is fictional, but then you have the educational mode based on fact and history, visit different landmarks and learn about different historical figures and things like that.
“So these experiences can be very sophisticated and used in different creative ways.”
Favis hopes this relationship between educators and game developers will continue after the pandemic. For example, the Minecraft Education Suite, which existed long before the pandemic, was made available to educators for free last year.
Another example is dreams, a game creation system created by British studio Media Molecule. It allows users to create their own interactive experiences and share them with a community and friends. And some people use it for educational purposes.
Gaming Industry Challenges
But as people play more games during this time, Favis says the industry itself faces real challenges.
Along with delayed releases of titles, like The Last of Us Part II and Infinite Halo, ranging from a month to a year, Favis says the cancellation of the video game industry’s biggest events, like the Game Developers Conference and E3, has left creators, developers and publishers with no space to post. and market their games in person.
“And the indie developers, I would say, are probably the most affected by the pandemic because they’re the least financially stable. And they don’t have a publisher like a big video game company would. They don’t so really have only themselves.
“So if you’re interested in the release of the next game, you’re going to watch a live stream about it. But most of the time, those live streams are full of information. [and] It’s happening at a fast pace.”
Favis says often indie games are given short slots in these streams, whereas at a convention they would be on a showroom for several days. and people try them. “They just matter more there.”