Video games an escape and break for American children during coronavirus outbreak, made change to online learning easier

  • A survey conducted in February showed that US kids and adults played more video games during Covid-19 as a way to relieve stress
  • More US adults – 227 million – say they play video games, up from 214 million in the study from the previous year
Tribune News Service |

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A survey of 4,000 Americans showed that children and their parents have been playing more video games during the pandemic

Yes, people did play more video games during the coronavirus pandemic – not just kids, but adults, too.

When you have to stay at home and social distance to slow the spread of Covid-19, who could blame you for spending hour after hour on Animal Crossing, Call of Duty or Fortnite?

You’re not the only one who’s been spending a lot of time playing Fortnite. Photo: EPA-EFE

These gaming trends have been confirmed by a survey of 4,000 US adults, conducted in February by market research firm Ipsos for the Entertainment Software Association.

Video games served as an escape and a break for children, said 71 per cent of parents surveyed. Two-thirds of parents (66 per cent) said video games made the transition to distance learning easier for their children.

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More parents began playing games with their kids, too, with 74 per cent of parents saying they play video games with their children at least weekly – up from 55 per cent in 2020, the survey found. More than half of parents (59 per cent) said their children played educational games.

For the adults surveyed, more than half of players (55 per cent) said they played more games during the pandemic – video games were a source of stress relief (55 per cent) and distraction (48 per cent). Most players (90 per cent) said they will continue playing after the country opens up.

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Overall, more Americans – 227 million – say they play video games, up from 214 million in the survey conducted the previous year.

“When we were doing this survey, we had a sense the numbers would go up, but we weren’t sure on the scale,” said Stanley Pierre-Louis, the Entertainment Software Association’s president and CEO. “We were excited to see the trend line. ... That’s just a huge leap. And it was up in all categories.”

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Other facts from the Entertainment Software Association’s 2021 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry, out Tuesday:
76 per cent of US children (under 18) are players.
45 per cent of gamers identify as female.
More than half of all gamers (51 per cent) played more than seven hours a week.
The most popular game genre? Casual games, played by 63 per cent of players, followed by action games (39 per cent) or shooter games (39 per cent).
The average video game player is 31 years old.
80 per cent of video game players in the US are over the age of 18.

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Will we see a downturn in time spent playing video games as social-distancing restrictions are loosened?

“My sense is we will still be trending upwards,” Pierre-Louis said. “But overall, what we’re excited about was a lot (of people) were introduced or reintroduced to games and they are sticking with it.”

DFC Intelligence expects video game sales in the US and Canada to increase 14.6 per cent in 2021, to US$19.6 billion. But players could spend more money and spend less time playing, David Cole, the research firm’s founder and CEO suggested recently.

And with potential hits such as Metroid Dread, Guardians of the Galaxy, Halo Infinite and this year’s edition of Call of Duty, expected to arrive in coming months, there will be plenty of reasons for gamers to return – or maintain contact with – their controllers.

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’ was released in November 2020, and the next game in the franchise will be released in late 2021. Photo: Activision / DPA

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