With sports in lockdown, does COVID-19 herald the victory of video gaming?

By Robin Pomeroy

May 15, 2020


“Before, when I had my full time job, I only really got to play maybe two, three hours a night. But now my whole day is clear, I pretty much just play all day.”

That’s 20-year-old New Yorker Mercutio, telling World Vs Virus why video gaming is thriving during the pandemic.

In the first week of the lockdown in US states and cities, internet traffic for gaming jumped 75%, said industry entrepreneur Mike Sepso, citing data from telecoms provider Verizon. “When you tell kids in the developed world that they have to stay home and they can’t go to school, they’re going to play a lot of video games.”

Gaming audiences up by 70%
The US lockdown caused a jump in gaming numbers.
Image: Stream Hatchet

But the appeal of gaming is much more than just killing time for bored teenagers. In this week’s podcast, we hear how gamers were much better prepared for the pandemic than the rest of us, as so much of their lives is already lived out in the online social spaces that non-gamers have been scrabbling to create through platforms such as Zoom.

gaming esports racing
Fans of F1 and Indycar seek their thrills online.
Image: Stream Hatchet

And with real-world sports on hold, Sepso, CEO of esports company Vindex, says COVID-19 could accelerate the pace at which esports — televised, professional gaming — grabs market share from traditional, physical games.

“If you’re talking about missing an entire baseball season in America, if you’re talking about not having the second half of the NBA season – no finals, and potentially not starting the season again later this year, you might wind up in a situation where enough time goes by without that sport that people start to develop other fan and viewing behaviours, and might gravitate towards esports.”

Traviis Scott Fortnite gaming
Gaming — it’s more than just games.
Image: Stream Hatchet

This article is curated from the World Economic Forum.

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