There’s a lot more consumption of video game material now that the quarantine is everywhere. The almost surreal start to 2020 is culminating in a strong cultural moment for the gaming community, barring the companies and developers all cancelling their live events.
Steam hit records for its concurrent player count every day since March 19, with just under 23 million people playing at once yesterday. In Italy, kids stuck at home are playing so much Fortnite that the telecommunication companies are struggling to keep up with demand for internet services. They all must be watching a lot more streams too, as viewership on Twitch increased by 40%, according to data from Twitchtracker.
The NBA also went online a couple weeks ago, showing a NBA 2K match between the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns on Twitch. The Mavs won. Luka Doncic put up a huge 50 points.
It’s not a bad time to be playing video games either. Animal Crossing, Doom Eternal, Call of Duty Warzone and Half Life: Alyx all just came out recently, providing infinite fodder for the quarantined to log more hours in front of the computer screen, which is exactly what junior USC public health major Nina Hart is doing these days.
When she’s not watching her physics Zoom lecture she heads to the virtual island to play some Animal Crossing. It’s something she wouldn’t have as much time to do had the world not shut down.
“I feel like I would definitely make time, just because I’ve been waiting for this game to come out for so long… But I don’t think I’d be playing it four hours a day, probably one or two,” she said.
Nina’s pretty happy about paying off her 95,000 bell loan to Tom Nook. She can finally start moving around the island and begin constructing her village.
“Right now you just gotta shake those trees, dig, get bugs and sell them.”
Students like Peter Yang of the USC Overwatch Discord server are using games like Minecraft to maintain a social platform for their communities within USC.
“I’ve been playing on another Minecraft server with my friends and have been having a good time getting back in the game, so I wanted to extend that enjoyment to the USC [Overwatch] community as well by spinning up a server,” he said.
However, people will eventually venture away from the video game caves and return to the graphically superior Earth. Maybe not for a few weeks or even months, but hopefully a vaccine will be developed, or COVID-19 will have run its course by the time next semester rolls around.
Junior Lehigh University student Abbhi Sekar doesn’t think he can continue playing Minecraft when he eventually goes back to reality, though after the school went online he found the game to be useful as a form of social interaction and a break from homework while he spends his days at home.
“I don’t think I would have the time when at school… It would be tough for me to manage my time and responsibilities if I continued playing,” he said.
For now we have the memes. Many other sections of culture have great quarantine memes going on too, but this is the esports section of USC Annenberg Media, so we should stay on topic.
Here are some good ones: