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The Good, the Bad, and the Weird of Gaming During a Pandemic

Games were a huge business before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the lockdowns supercharged it. In 2020, people stayed indoors, new consoles launched, Animal Crossing and Among Us became monster hits, and a YouTube chat show set in virtual reality gained millions of viewers.

The real world shrank because of the pandemic, but our virtual lives became rich and robust.

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Welcome to RESET: The Unauthorized Guide to Video Games, a new television show from VICE and Waypoint that tackles the complicated and fascinating world of the world’s new favorite pastime. This week on RESET, Dexter Thomas explores how the pandemic shaped America’s new favorite pastime. “What happens to the industry and the culture of gaming when we all have to find a new reality online,” Thomas said. “It gets weird.”

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We were lucky to have video games in 2020. “It’s definitely the case that we see a kind of large scale global experiment where we put global populations, at different times in their life, in different degrees of social isolation,” said Sebastian Deterding, a digital creativity researcher at University of York. “It’s an interesting question: what that does to our everyday life. What that does to our well being, what that does to our mental health.”

By all accounts, gaming was good for our mental health. “The cool thing about the gaming community is that we have significant solution connections through virtual relationships. In a sense, for a lot of people in our community it’s actually kind of sad, but quarantine didn’t affect their life too much,” said Dr. Alok Kanojia, a therapist, Twitch streamer, and co-founder of Health Gamer, a site that provides mental health services for the internet generation.

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New episodes of RESET premiere Fridays at 10pm EST on VICE TV.

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