When you’re stuck inside, gaming’s a great option. And according to a new survey, hundreds of thousands of Australians discovered a love of video games this year courtesy of COVID-19.
The figures come courtesy of Dell’s gaming brand Alienware, which found that one in ten Australians started playing video games as a result of the forced coronavirus restrictions. The survey, which was conducted by Lonergan Research in late June and weighted to the latest ABS data of the Australian population, also found that three quarters of those surveyed found gaming was a positive influence while social distancing.
Other interesting tidbits from the survey include:
- 42 per cent of those surveyed said gaming helped keep their mind active
- 44 per cent of those playing games use games to stay connected with friends, family
- 39 per cent said they played games during lockdown do so with real-life friends
- 59 per cent of those surveyed said gaming helped with overall well-being
- 9 per cent of those surveyed started playing video games because of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, which equates to 762,000-plus Australians taking up video games because of the coronavirus
- 29 per cent said they have scheduled regular gaming sessions to stay connected with friends, family
Jocelyn Brewer, a cyberpsychology researcher at Sydney University and a registered psychologist, added that the pandemic has not only broken down the traditional stereotype of gaming for many Australians, but it has also forced people to shift their attitude towards communities and digital spaces.
“The pandemic has shifted our attitude to many things, and our use of technology and the value of games to engage and connect communities is one of them. While many have felt the effects of being ‘Zoom’ed out’ and the drain of video conferencing fatigue, video gaming has provided energising and stress relieving ways for people to manage the ‘new normal’,” Brewer said.
“The stereotype of a gamer has shifted over the last several years to become much more mainstream and the opportunity of games to occupy our minds, manage stress and uncertainty while helping to ‘flatten the curve’ has accelerated this. With more mature audiences increasingly taking up technology, they’re also discovering the power of games to help bridge face-to-face connections and maintain cognitive function with a range of strategy games.”
It certainly helps that 2020 has been a launching pad for many highly social games, like the deceptive Among Us, or the community-building of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Games like the Jackbox series have also proved hugely helpful in these times, particularly given their low accessibility barriers and designs that are easily translatable across generations.
“Families too have taken a deeper dive into the online gaming worlds, with more parents becoming involved in gaming to share in the fun. Rather than battling against games, parents have joined in with some of the in-game skirmishes and built a new appreciation of the skills involved in game play,” Brewer added. Families especially have turned to gaming in many novel ways this year, like the one father who leveraged Pokemon to keep his kids engaged while learning algebra.
That interest certainly couldn’t have come at a better time, either, with the next generation of consoles only weeks away. What’ll be interesting to see, however, is the follow up study in a couple of years to see whether it sticks. It’ll be interesting to see the first-party data from publishers, retailers and developers as to whether they notice an uptick in Australian audiences, too.