*Alex Foris plays video games while in lockdown in Romania (Photo: Denisa Ardelean)
The global gaming industry is using its popularity and clout to launch a range of initiatives to support frontline medics and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the battle against COVID-19.
In Romania, the professional training body Romanian GameDev Academy is hosting “game jams” or virtual tournaments in collaboration with other Romanian gaming organisations to raise money for local hospitals.
“Over 70 games were played and almost 10,000 Euros (approx. $16,000) was raised… so it definitely turned out very well in the end,” said Andrei Istrate from the Game Dev Academy.
Aside from philanthropic initiatives, the global gaming industry is participating in public health and safety messaging to help battle COVID-19.
In April, Australia’s peak gaming body the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) joined 60 companies worldwide participating in the #playaparttogether initiative.
Gaming companies around the world have joined the fight against #COVID19. Check out how many are involved, in this interactive by @vidya_kathir of @UTSFass & Denisa Ardelean of @UnivBabesBolyai https://t.co/ZhgIh5jmap
— UTS Journalism (@CentralNewsUTS) June 4, 2020
Run by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the campaign is aimed at encouraging players to stay at home and practice social distancing.
“We all have a role to play in flattening the curve, and we’ve been using industry stakeholders to tell us what they’re doing to play apart together to encourage others to do the same,” Raelene Knowles from IGEA said.
Leaders of the gaming community believe the industry is in a unique position to provide financial support.
“Globally, the industry isn’t facing major losses. On the contrary, some have gained [more] during this period,” Mr Istrate said.
According to IGEA’s 2020 Digital Australia report, video games sales in Australia grew at a rate of 15 per cent between 2013 and 2018 with total retail sales topping $4.03 Billion.
Ryan “Chippys” Short plays League of Legends professionally as part of the highly-ranked Dire Wolves team, and feels “fortunate” to be part of an industry that is thriving in the coronavirus environment.
“The viewers are a lot higher than [they were] before… not many people used to watch Australian and New Zealand players, but now they do,” he said.
As well as providing him with a job and a stable income, Chippys also feels as if video games have had psychological benefits.
“I have been able to have goals I want to achieve everyday, it’s a lot of direction. I really want to compete against the best of the best… if I didn’t have that, I’m not sure what I’d do everyday.”
Course Director for Games and Interactivity at Swinburne University of Technology Dr Steven Conway, believes that video games satisfy an important psychological need, especially during a time of global instability, uncertainty and reduced independence.
“Since we’re having to follow strict guidelines and directions; we might feel a lack of competence since we don’t have the opportunity to pursue many of our regular leisure or work activities,” Dr Conway said.
“Games can, to a degree… help us feel in control, give us a sense of achievement, help us feel connected through engaging narrative and characters.”
Story: Vidya Kathirgamalingam @vidya_kathir, Denisa Ardelean