Proposal: Online games flourish under COVID-19 restrictions

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Story topic and angle

This feature will be a cultural commentary looking at the increased uptake of online gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures. Game companies and manufacturers have seen a rise in activity and traffic, with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing emerging as the breakout star in the gaming world during this period.

Cloud-based video game platforms like Airconsole and Jackbox Games, enabled by mobile devices and the internet, allow party games to be held virtually, only requiring a smartphone or a tablet. Groups can also play board games from a safe social distance with the help of websites like Tabletopia and Board Game Arena. From these observations, I will take a more analytical approach, suggesting that games, beyond supplying relief from boredom and a source of social connection, are also attractive because they provide a structure of rules and a sense of consistency in a presently uncertain world due to the virus outbreak.

 

Multiplayer game using Jackbox.tv on mobile device
Multiplayer online game played using mobile devices. Photo by Expect Best from Pexels.

Publication and target user group

This piece is aimed at the publication The Atlantic, specifically its ‘Culture’ section. According to the site’s pitch guide, its editors are interested in trend stories which shed light on cultural fads and why they are relevant.

The target user group for this feature is adult professionals who are currently working from home, and are seeking out ways to cope with imposed social distancing measures. The publication will be suitable for this as 87% of The Atlantic’s online readers are college educated and 57% work in professional/managerial roles. 

 

Sources of information

  • News stories reporting the surge in popularity of online gaming, such as The Daily Mail, The Verge, Business Insider.
  • I will interview Kirsty Mann, an architecture student living alone in Germany who recently started participating in online games, and also ask her to film herself playing the games.
  • I will approach an academic specialising in gaming and psychology, such as Professor Daniel Johnson from Queensland University of Technology, for a deeper insight into why people are drawn to online games during this time.
  • I will also refer to game studies theories such as Huizinga’s ‘magic circle’, and books like My Life As a Night Elf Priest by Bonnie Nardi.
An image from an online draw and guess group game
‘Drawful’, a mobile and tablet drawing and guessing game. Image by BagoGames, CC BY 2.0


Multimedia, Hypertext and Interactivity

  • Hyperlinks to sources
  • Social media posts such as this tweet from Microsoft Head of Xbox Phil Spencer:

  • Video and photographs taken by my interview subject of her experience playing games
  • A poll asking readers to share whether they’ve been engaging in online games while social distancing

 

About Nicole Chew 3 Articles
Nicole Chew is a Master of Media Practice student at the University of Sydney. She has an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology and has written for Human Resources Magazine. Contact her at nche6235@uni.sydney.edu.au

2 Comments

  1. Hi Nicole,

    I really like your idea and I think it’s definitely a phenomenon worth exploring, as I myself have also purchased a Nintendo Switch to play animal crossing during this lockdown period. I think this commentary is definitely newsworthy in both timeliness and impact, given the large number of people who have taken up this hobby as a result of COVID-19

    You have clearly stated your argument that games are creating a sense of consistency and structure during a time of uncertainty. I think you have raised valid point, and asking for an expert opinion from academic will definitely heighten the legitimacy of your claim. I suggest you also explore other reasons behind this phenomenon, such as the fear of missing out and the psychological considerations of people taking up gaming, for which you could interview psychologists as your source.

    Given that one of your interviewees is a student from Germany, I think it would also be a good idea to interview a student from Australia, and compare their experiences in gaming during the pandemic.

    Your use of online interface is great! I look forward to reading your final commentary.

    Cheers,
    Lucy

  2. Hi Nicole,

    This is definitely an interesting story. Your featured image and SEO-friendly headline easily attracted me. For a game fan, although I ’ve read some negative reviews of games, the dramatic increase of online game users really surprised me. I believe that your news is worth studying with its news values, such as impact, timeliness, proximity and relevance.

    Game fans are different from other groups, and those who are obsessed with the game will always invite others to play with them. One suggestion is that you could interview some enthusiastic game fans. Because you mentioned the “culture” section of The Atlantic, is there really a “game culture” that encourages them to drive more people that lead to the online game trend?

    In addition, I suggest that you could use some gifs of games, which is also an option for using multimedia.

    Looking forward to reading your news! Best wishes!

    Steve

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