Quarantine has got me feeling down a number of times and I’ve been trying to find an activity to help me out of that funk. The problem is, many of the quarantine activities I see people doing are pastimes I have no passion or skill for. I kill every plant I touch, I can’t bake to save my life and I’m too bad at math to consider starting a small business.
But, one activity has hooked me into its digital trap: mobile gaming. I downloaded a variety of games: zombie-shooting, farming, life simulation, styling and even a digital pet. And I’m not the only one. When the pandemic forced people to go into quarantine, global mobile game downloads shot up to about four billion. You did not read that wrong, billions.
But we really shouldn’t be surprised—games have long been a source of entertainment. In prehistoric times, people were already playing games with an established set of rules. Even chess has been around for more than a thousand years.
Games, both digital and traditional, have also been used in teaching and child development. A computer game about counting animals taught me how to do addition (which might explain my skill level at math) and games like quiz bees and pass the message help students enjoy learning.
Aside from being used as a teaching strategy, games have a lot of other benefits, even if it’s not always apparent. Games like Monopoly, chess and Ticket to Ride teach a lot of people (yes, adults can still play board games) about strategy and tactics. Video games increase hand-eye coordination and, in some cases, can even promote physical activity—does anyone remember Wii Sports? There are even some studies that predict that students who play video games are well-suited to become surgeons.
The most apparent reason why people have turned to games this quarantine is that they are a source of serotonin, which we really really need. This is also why games of any type—whether it be a complicated board game, a technically demanding game that requires the most advanced hardware or just a simple game of rock, paper, scissors—will never go out of style. Games are fun, and if your idea of fun is amassing a number of properties and leaving your competitors bankrupt or maybe just mounting an attack against a fortified castle, there is a game designed just for you.
In times of stress and trials, games can help you create a reality where having fun isn’t such a far-off dream and hey, if you really need a win? Why not go and try one round of any game you have? Just don’t come for me when the boss starts calling.