How to: Get gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic

The world of gaming is experiencing a surge in popularity, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep many people close to home.

“Gaming” can mean anything from desktop games, consoles like the Nintendo Switch, or an app on your phone.

Jason Furlano with MiQ Canada said the company is looking at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how people are consuming different forms of media.

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“In this case, we are looking at how gaming devices — that were meant for free time — are being used,” said Furlano. “We’re looking at how people are using [those devices] and who is using it. The online gamer community has definitely grown. You’ve got female gamers, moms who are gaming. It’s become a little bit more of a family oriented project.”

Gaming consoles

Furlano said search trends from Week 1 of the pandemic to Week 7 have shown a massive increase in the number of searches for gaming consoles.

“If you take the search phrase, ‘Buy Nintendo’ it grew 890 per cent from the first week through to the seventh week.”

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A player holding a Nintendo Switch Lite
A player holding a Nintendo Switch Lite. Global News

Elsewhere, “buy Xbox” searches grew 80 per cent and “buy PlayStation” grew by 70 per cent.

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On Twitter, gaming conversations grew as well, by 71 per cent through the second half of March.

The problem? These devices are so popular, they quickly sell out.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Staying social during quarantine through video games

“The demands can’t match the supply,” Furlano said. “It’s really difficult for retailers to get these consoles in stock.”

Desktop/mobile games

Scarcity in the market for gaming consoles means there’s been a shift back to gaming in its more traditional form, like desktop or mobile device gaming.

The popular board game “Codenames,” which asks players to make a guess based on word association, has inspired a digital version that you can play. You can phone or video call a group to help family game night go virtual.

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The artistic type may enjoy the online game “skribbl”, where players attempt to guess what their opponents are drawing as quickly as possible. You can play with friends by creating a private room and emailing or texting out the link.

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A game of skribbl in May 2020
A game of skribbl in May 2020. Global News

Jackbox.TV is also a popular choice for party games, though the game must be purchased by one party member before using.


More people are eager to sit back and watch the action instead.

“From our perspective, gaming doesn’t mean you have to be a player. With the pandemic, we’re also seeing the increase of viewers within YouTube gaming or Twitch,” said Furlano.

Furlano said he believes E-sports will be the next generation of how people engage with professional athletes.

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“Traditional or legacy media has moved into this space. ESPN has begun to air basketball tournaments within NBA players games where they are challenging each other in NBA 2K20. The eNASCAR series commentated by the likes of Jeff Gordon drew 1.3 million TV viewers.

“[Rapper/singer] Travis Scott put on an in-game concert in Fortnite that drew 2.8 million viewers in the game at its peak. Travis Scott has never performed in front of that many people in one single venue.”

The prediction? With family game nights going virtual now, it may impact how things play out for years to come.

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“[This shift] will go beyond gaming. It’s going to have an impact on how we consume media.”

“People are investing hundreds of dollars into these [various] consoles. You’re going to see a different future in the gaming community. You also now have a connected device that sits inside your home. Online games can help you connect with your family. I think these devices will shape the future of how we connect with people inside and outside of our home.”

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