COVID-19: The world’s longest boss fight

Throughout the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, people were able to come together in an unexpected way; through gaming, writes Jordan News columnist, Eyad Elkhatib (Photo: Jordan News)
At the beginning of March last year, the world began spiraling downwards, when what I refer to as “the world’s longest boss fight” commenced. Government entities were thrown into a panic in a bid to contain this over-powered, clunky, and insanely tedious boss fight, and everyone started wondering what life had in store for them. اضافة اعلان

This was a total shift in the balance of the daily grind-fest that most people had grown accustomed to; no more EXP farming at your job, zero skill points to gain, life itself felt like it had reached a stalemate of sorts.

“How are we supposed to live like this? Staying at home? No more social life? How on Earth are we supposed to pass the time?” These questions were all justifiable, how could people survive this terrible patch? It weighed on many, but fortunately for every keyboard crusader, console player, even mobile phone gamer, this was their time to shine.

There had always been a stereotypical image that accompanied the term “gamer.” A kid/teenager who spends hours on end glued to their screens letting life pass them by. But that’s not exactly true.

Statistics show that the majority of gamers fall somewhere between the ages of 18 to 34; college kids, your day-to-day employee, many of who started making a living off playing their favorite games. And with an increase in player numbers, it was clear to see that video games were here to stay. The video game industry was already booming before the pandemic struck, with an estimate of 2.5 billion gamers worldwide — that’s about a third of the population.

To those 2.5 billion people, the pandemic was a blessing. Let’s be real, they were already social distancing before it was even a thing. With a massive variety genres to play and stories to experience, it was pretty clear as to why there were so many gamers to begin with. And with the explosive growth of video gaming during the pandemic, it’s clear to see that many others have found that same solace in gaming.

The Middle East, Africa, and Turkey saw year-on-year growth of 77 percent in the gaming industry. There was a 300 percent increase of gaming traffic in Saudi Arabia alone. It was now evident that there really was more to video games than meets the eye, with many people being genuinely surprised with what video games could truly offer; a pleasant outlet for much needed social connection and comradery.

Although the concept of socializing in a game seemed foreign to many, gaming enthusiasts had already been using this technology to not only build communities, but also to form genuine, enduring friendships. Strangely, it took a global pandemic to get others to experience the joy that video games have to offer.

The ball had started to roll, and the rise in numbers were truly incredible. Microsoft reported a 130 percent increase in multiplayer engagement 2 months into the pandemic. Their Game Pass service surpassed 10 million users. The Nintendo Switch’s sales rose by 24 percent, while one of its new games, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” sold 13.5 million copies only a month into its release.

The video game streaming service Twitch surpassed 3 billion hours of view time over the first quarter of 2020, accounting for 65 percent of total streaming hours watched and another 72 percent of hours streamed. Even Sony’s PlayStation 5 sold out in 29 minutes once it was available. The gaming industry solidified that it was an unstoppable force during the pandemic, one that cannot be beaten. It was beautiful, seeing all these numbers skyrocket to heights they’ve never seen before.

So, there clearly was a way to combat this spell of “isolation” that COVID-19 had placed upon the world; one that keeps people connected. Whether your weapon of choice be a controller, keyboard, VR headset, or even a mobile phone, remain vigilant and safe and let’s play, while we inch our way towards the end of the world’s longest boss fight.

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