Goodbye Real World! Video Games Are Helping People Cope With Cabin Fever
Thu, February 2, 2023

Goodbye Real World! Video Games Are Helping People Cope With Cabin Fever


Christopher Dring of, an online resource for people who make and sell games, said the website has studied the latest market data from GSD, which monitors digital download game sales from 16 major game companies in nearly 50 European, Middle East, African, and Asian countries. It found that 4.3 million games were sold during Week 12 (Monday 16-Sunday, March 22), up 63% a week before.

Across all 50 markets studied by, 2.47 million games from participating publishers were downloaded during Week 12 (Monday, March 16-22), an increase of 52.9% a week before. In markets where lockdown was implemented, digital downloading in France increased by over 180% on Week 12. In Spain, digital sales rose 142.8% during Week 12 and increased by 23.3% in Week 12.

In markets that were not in lockdown but instead practicing social distancing, digital downloading in the UK rose by 67.4% week-on-week before the country went into lockdown. Germany’s digital sales rose by 60.2% and Australia by 26.5%. 

Piers Harding-Rolls, research director for games at Ampere Analysis, and Niko Partners’ senior analyst Daniel Ahmad noted that the coronavirus outbreak may have contributed to video game sales spike, cited Eustance Huang of CNBC, a business and financial news site. With more countries under lockdown, more people are gaming to entertain themselves since they have more time and it is a safe, low-cost form of entertainment, Ahmad said.  



Video Gaming Statistics (2020)

Globally, 18.7% of players gamed for two to four hours a week, closely followed by those playing four to seven hours a week (18.6%), according to Limelight Networks, a premier content delivery network (CDN). 16.4% played one to two hours a week, 14.8% played seven to 12 hours a week, and 14.5% played less than one hour a week. Only 9.7% and 7.4% of gamers played 12 to 20 hours a week and over 20 hours a week, respectively.  

More players in Germany (16.4%) and the US (16.4%) played video games seven to 12 hours a week compared to Italy (16.2%), the UK (16.2%), Singapore (16%), and India (15%). Meanwhile, Japan (12.2%) and the UK (10%) had the most players who game more than 20 hours a week compared to the US (7.8%), Singapore (7%), Germany (6.8%), India (6%), and Italy (6%).

18.7% of gamers of all ages played video games 12 to 20 hours a week, closely followed by those who game four to seven hours a day (18.6%). 16.4% of gamers played one to hours a week, 14.8% played seven to 12 hours a week, and 14.5% gamed less than one hour a week. 9.7% of gamers of all ages played 12 to 20 hours a week and 7.4% played more than 20 hours a week.

More gamers aged 18-25 (21%) spent at least four to seven hours a week gaming compared to those aged 26-35 years (20.2%), 46-60 years (19.6%), 35-45 years (18.9%), and those over 60 years of age (11.7%). On the other hand, more gamers aged over 60 years old (26.5%) played video games less than one hour a week versus those aged 46-60 years (15.9%), 36-45 years (9.3%), 18-25 years (9.1%), and 26-35 years (8%).  

It is interesting to note that more women aged 50 years and above (53%) than men (39%) played video games in 2019 (versus 45% of women and 35% of men in 2016), stated AARP, a non-profit organization. Older adults also played with others because it’s more fun/interesting (48% in 2019 versus 37% in 2016), and competitive (38% versus 31%). 32% said (versus 26%) they play games with others to stay connected.



Game Developers Offer Games for Free Or At Steep Discounts

Offering games for free or at steep discounts help players cope during the pandemic, wrote Aaron Langille, Charles Daviau, and Jason Hawreliak of the Conversation, a news and analysis website. For example, indie game developer Vlambeer announced in mid-March that Nuclear Throne could be bought for 90% of the regular price.

Rami Ismail, the developer’s co-founder and strategic director, said games are a distraction from reality. Vlambeer tried to offer the game for free, but popular gaming platform Steam did not have that option. Ismail said they did not want money to be a barrier to people who want to get a “form of relief,” even if it was their indie game.

Leaf Corcoran, founder of indie video game website, wrote on Twitter that many of the games on the site could be downloaded and played for free. Corcoran made the move as he saw that user activity is “way up,” enabling gamers to participate in “stay-at-home” themed video game development jams. He said, “Game developers are people, and people recognize it’s an important time to contribute in any way they can.”  

Staying Connected Through Video Games

Harding-Rolls and Ahmad stated that online service-based games may see a boost during the outbreak considering that people are searching for ways to connect with others at home. Ahmad said, “Online competitive and live service games will see the strongest boost going forward.” Again, these types of games serve as an avenue for players to keep in touch with their friends, as well as to drive long-term engagement through new content.

With the real world being off-limits to people, games will serve as a virtual social hub where everyone can hang out with their peers and loved ones, he said. Don Forsyth, a social and personality psychologist at the University of Richmond, noted that human contacts and connections help sustain a person’s psychological and social needs, reported Jazmin Goodwin of USA Today, an internally distributed American newspaper.

Compared to emotional loneliness, social loneliness happens when an individual feels cut off from their friends, peers, and acquaintances, he said. Social loneliness can be addressed by talking to people through safe means such as writing a letter or an email to an old friend. Such methods can help curb the negative impacts of prolonged isolation.



Be Aware of the Risks Too

Video games are helpful in combatting isolation during the pandemic, but online spaces can be a cesspool of toxicity, especially for gamers from marginalized communities, said Kishonna Gray and Emma Vossen. As more players spend their time online, they are also more likely to be exposed to toxicity. For parents of younger children, other concerns surrounding gaming include increased in-game purchases and microtransactions.

Gaming is one way to beat cabin fever and to distract ourselves from reality, albeit temporarily. It also fosters communication by allowing gamers to interact with their family or friends. Players should also be aware of the increased risks of video games, particularly online gaming such as online harassment.