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Gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic no longer feels safe

The escapism is slowly dwindling

Lately I’ve realized that I’m worrying about the coronavirus situation more than I thought. It’s slowly creeping into every medium I thought was safe and separate from the outside world. Nothing feels the same during the pandemic, not even gaming. And honestly I’m not sure what to do.

The sense of safety in gaming wanes

Gaming provides a natural sense of escapism for players. Some of us deliberately seek out that escape – whether for positive or negative reasons. If you ever find yourself getting deep into a game’s lore, then it has succeeded in providing you an escape. All of these elaborate fantasy worlds and rich stories are perfect for getting away from the mundane and stressful realities of everyday life. W.H.O has actually listed gaming as a disorder when it reaches a point where it interferes with everyday life, although that classification is highly controversial.

That escape is something I enjoy, not to an “unhealthy” level, but it’s nice to have a distraction for a while. However, that distraction has started to come at a price lately. I’ve been playing infection games lately, which just exacerbates the problem of my paranoia. That was mostly for work, so it makes sense that it was on my mind. The real problem manifests when I’m playing anything else.

While playing Spider-Man, I couldn’t help but think about the threat of Devil’s Breath while swinging around. It was a plot to draw out a political figure, and the symptoms of exposure are similar to COVID-19, but the scenario is really far off. I also started thinking about Spider-Man and other heroes like him. Swinging around the city means less contact with potentially infected individuals. And how useful would it be to have accelerated healing? I bet Wolverine and Deadpool wouldn’t be worried about self-isolating in a pandemic.

Spider-Man PS4 selfie
I mean look at how high up he is, that’s like the ultimate isolation.

I know I’m being paranoid, but I don’t know what to do about it. My concerns and ideas sound stupid, I agree. Like many others, I started out blissfully ignorant – not trying to think much about the implications of the coronavirus pandemic. But the more and more the numbers climb, and the more I see people act normal – as if nothing is happening – the more I worry. I’m having a hard time distracting myself nowadays. There’s too many factors at play for me personally, and it’s on my mind 24/7.

Governments are doing what they can, but it’s hard to manage people en masse. I constantly see people just out and about, potentially exposing themselves and their families. It’s ridiculous that some people think this will just blow over, and instead choose to flaunt the rules and put everyone at risk.

Gamers must be doing fine amid the virus I guess

Gamers are thought to be thriving due to our stereotypical habit of being isolated anyway, so this must be easy right? Sure, for some of us being out of work and not even having the option to go out allows us the time to do what we love. But that doesn’t make anything about this situation any easier.

Our Time Has Come from gaming

During any other time, sure – I can just go home and play some games and forget the world for a while. This is way different – the panic, fear and uncertainty make this impossible to ignore. It’s getting worse day by day, and it doesn’t help that the news only highlights the negative. When all you get is negativity, what else is there to think about?

The safety I feel in video games is eroding away slowly. One of the only things that I could do amidst this pandemic to feel sane is no longer working. So where do I go from here? Do I sink all available time into new and different games? Do I play familiar games and try to lose myself in the experience again? Or do I play games that scare me for different reasons? I bet if I play Alien Isolation I’ll be too busy crying to think about COVID-19.

Animal Crossing New Horizons donations
Blatherssss, lemme innnnn

A bright side amidst the chaos

Some positivity, though:  my girlfriend got me into Animal Crossing, and that’s definitely helped. It’s a very calming game – except for the tarantulas – and it makes me happy despite all this confusion. So maybe what we need is to start a new experience.

For me at least, the point is to enter some kind of new fantasy – whether it a superhero fantasy in Spiderman, the demon-busting power fantasy of Doom Eternal, or just hanging out with animals all day long. Find something you love, something new and let yourself get lost in it. Cuddle up with a warm blanket, warm drink and get cozy while gaming.

Me? I think I’ll keep playing Animal Crossing. A deserted island filled with cute animals and fun activities? Yeah, I think that’s a good place to start. Don’t you?

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Kevin Dewan

Writer for SQUAD, runs after things a lot. Won't BM you to your face. Okay with losing as long as it's funny.
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