This year, I was honored to be asked to give the keynote lecture for the Game Studies pre conference at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association this year where i discussed “Digital games in the ‘After Times’.
In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic begin, the general discourse about video games in the public and media seems to have shifted in relation to the uses and effects of games, particularly in relation to their social utility. Has COVID-19 been the impetus we needed to shift the narratives about video games away from tools for destruction and towards tools for connection. Perhaps the most notable change in relation to this has been the increase in positive news coverage.
In this talk, I explore this shift in communication and its potential repercussions for how games will continue to be discussed and explored in the future. A special focus is given on the unique contributions of Animal Crossing (Nintendo) in helping initiate this change… in addition to being the game of the pandemic.
Don’t have 30 minutes to watch the video? Here is the TL; DR:
We are finally seeing nuanced discussions of games, highlighting their potential to be tools for positive change. Now I’m not saying their cannot be negative consequences to game play – lets be clear some people play games maladaptively and it has negative repercussions in their life – but for the vast majority of people this is not the case. For the vast majority of us, as players and researchers – we know that games can be fantastic tools for stress release, creativity, team building, socializing, and just having fun (when did fun not become an important outcome?).
Here’s to hoping this line of dialogue remains post pandemic because I think that the pandemic – as awful and terrible as it is – is this shift in the public discourse about video games. The media is long overdue to adopt a narrative that is less moral panic and more scientific truth: video games are fantastic as tools for fun, stress reduction, and social connection (especially in times of physical distancing).