As the coronavirus pandemic engulfs the world, it has forced people to stay indoors, in this time, gaming has become a rising new hobby for many. WHO is also encouraging people to play video games.

Ray Chambers, US ambassador to the WHO, tweeted asking people to help continue physical distancing by playing games to help saving lives. He used the hashtag #PlayApartTogether. The WHO recommendation differs from its previous stand. It had classified video game addiction as an official mental health disorder.

Gaming industry on a rise

It is well known that people have are resorted to extensive use of online video platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video among others. There have been huge usage of online games too. Many game companies made some content available for free and also adding features like extra rewards. A majority of them tweeted seconding the WHO's #PlayApartTogether.

Some are PUBG mobile, Fortnite: Battle Royale and Call of Duty: Warzone. About 10 million overall hours are being spent each day watching other gamers play online through the streaming site Twitch.tv. Digital social hubs have become a norm of choice.

Cnet reported that some are using Nintendo's Animal Crossing to celebrate birthdays and even go on digital dates along with holding makeshift weddings after real ones get canceled. Sales Animal Crossing in UK has rose at least three and a half times compared last year's games. The game set new records in Japan, Famitsu reported that the game was the best-selling among Nintendo's, compared to last four years. Reports say that companies saw players spending up to 40 percent more buying in-game items.

Online Gaming
Online Gaming Riot Games/Twitter

However, it is unsure, after the coronavirus lockdown season, if this spike in gaming growth would be retained. With unemployment peaking at 3.28 million, spending might get down. We have also entered recession. It remains the efforts of the government policies, on how things play out.

Breaking stereotypes on gaming

The first empirical study concerning online gaming was published that debunked the myth that online gamers were socially withdrawn teenagers. About 23 percent among 11,000 gamers said that their favourite aspect during the game was grouping and interacting with other people. About 10 percent said their favourite was chatting with friends and guildmates (members of a strategic playing team in the RPG Everquest).

"We followed up with a study a year later and found almost identical result," wrote Mark Griffiths in a piece to The Conversation. He is the Director of the International Gaming Research Unit and Professor of Behavioural Addiction, Nottingham Trent University. Among online gamers, he writes, "Gamers socialise with others online and create a sense of community and wellbeing. Most gamers value the socialisation aspects very highly."

Latest gaming industry statistics say that 65 percent of adults play video games across different types of platforms like phones, PC's and consoles. The most significant finding is that 63 percent of gamers who play with others and many players get social support from the gaming communities that they are in.