The same week, social distancing measures were announced in Australia (March 16 - March 22), sales of game consoles jumped 285.6%. Before that, sales were down from month to month.
We also saw a 278.5% increase in physical game sales, spurred by the release of Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. COVID-19 clearly has an impact on our purchasing habits beyond toilet paper.
Looking at games leaping in the UK charts in late March, the top five (all of which have seen sales increase 200% +) deliver robust multiplayer experiences. Besides Doom and Animal Crossing, we see the latest versions of Call of Duty, FIFA, and Mario Kart. These games are not just about escaping reality, but about going somewhere together.
However, for those who are not already passionate gamers, video games can be considered juvenile - a waste of time without redeeming qualities. In the age of quantified ego, where we are pushed to use technology to follow and “optimize” us endlessly, even those who love games can feel guilty for not being more “productive”.
On the contrary, we have found that video games help meet basic psychological needs and therefore have enormous value for all ages.
What people need
According to the theory of self-determination, people have three psychological needs:
autonomy means feeling that you have a choice, can act in accordance with your values and pursue meaningful goals
competence consists of feeling efficient and able to overcome problems
kinship is about feeling connected to others.
Satisfying these basic psychological needs leads to greater well-being and motivation. If being trapped at home reduces your happiness and well-being, it could be due to reduced satisfaction (https://www.wowessays.com/write-my-book-report/) of one or more of these needs. For example, your sense of autonomy can be undermined when forced to isolate yourself because you cannot participate in many of your usual activities.
Your sense of competence may also have gained the upper hand, missing out on the daily "gains" that can come from hobbies or problem-solving at work. You also cannot see your colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family as often, which can undermine feelings of kinship.
The feeling of helplessness is also common during pandemics.
Fortunately, many of us have found other ways to meet these needs through technology, such as using webcams and microphones to interact online. It is not the same as meeting in person, but it helps to maintain the connection and satisfies our desire for a relationship.
What games offer
Video games can also meet these needs and can be a great way to spend time during this crisis.
Research shows that games help facilitate a sense of autonomy by giving players freedom of choice and, depending on the game, meaningful storytelling to accomplish tasks. Well-designed games also facilitate a sense of skill by presenting challenges that are neither too difficult nor too easy and that seem rewarding to overcome.
They offer a clearly defined "sense of progress and feasibility," as Jennifer Scheurle explains. This is especially useful during lockdown when your days may seem dull.
The games also offer a feeling of kinship. This can be by playing with friends, or even by connecting with an online stranger (with whom you can fight against a common enemy).
Humans are wired for connection. Many publications have linked loneliness to early death and an increased risk of illness for the elderly.
Research suggests that players can also feel a sense of kinship with the virtual characters and the game world itself, adding to the overall fun of playing. Caring for a character and his distress (kinship) motivates players to help them (autonomy) and improves their sense of skill when they succeed.
Learn more: Social distance can make you alone. Here's how to stay connected when you're locked out
All good things in moderation
Although playing games has psychological value, it is important to do so in moderation. The Child Mind Institute recommends approximately one to two hours (maximum) per day of play for children. For children over the age of six, they encourage parents to "determine the appropriate length of time".
While there is no universal consensus on the amount of "too much" play for adults, the answer is probably less related to hours of play, and more to awareness of its vulnerability to addiction to video games. That said, research suggests that only 1 to 3% of gamers are at risk for addiction. If you are worried, you can try this test which was tested in an article published by the International Journal of Heal