Video games have become a vital social tool during the lasts year’s lockdowns as a way to keep in touch with friends, a new study has found.
Global lockdowns made sure that 2020 was a high-growth year for the games industry, with the market now worth nearly $160bn (£117bn) with a revenue increase of 9.3 per cent. This was also coupled with the release of new consoles from Xbox and PlayStation at the end of the year which should ensure this growth continues into 2021.
The study suggests that many younger people prefer gaming as a way to socialise over more traditional forms of communication like messaging and voice or video calls.
77 per cent of parents also said they believed gaming in lockdown had helped their child stay in touch with friends and half agreed it had helped with their child’s mental health.
However, only a third (33 per cent) believe that the activity is a productive use of their child’s time.
Commenting on the research, Dr Dieter Declercq, lecturer in film and media studies at the University of Kent, said: “Gaming is an important way for adolescents to socialise with their friends – and the importance of gaming’s social function has become even more significant during lockdown.
“Three out of five children prefer to play games with or against other people online, with far fewer opting to play on their own.
“When children think of gaming in 2021, most now think of it as something they do with other people, especially to interact with their peers, but also to make new connections.
“This social function of gaming is of course very valuable during a time when there is less physical interaction possible.
“The pandemic has really highlighted the role of gaming in the social life of young people and the way they communicate with friends.”
Dayna Sinclair, UK regional manager at HyperX, said: “Our research shows that the vast majority of parents and their children agree that gaming has been a helpful tool during the lockdown.
“Video games have an important and valuable role to play in the social lives of many people during these challenging times, especially for children.
“It is encouraging that parents understand that gaming is more than just a hobby for their children.
“It is a way to connect, talk, make friends and compete while stuck at home. Gaming brings people together even when we are apart.”