Video games and other online diversions

n one online video you can be the audience to an Italian mayor yelling at Ping-Pong players to “go to your PlayStations” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even professional athletes have resorted to video games to play their sport of choice; NASCAR drivers are playing racing video games, and teams in the European UEFA Champions League are scoring in the FIFA soccer video game.

Now is also a good time to introduce new people to video games, said Brenda Bailey executive director of DigiBC, who is developing a video game podcast for the non-gamer during COVID-19 crisis. Many people think video games are all about  violence and shooting , but Bailey said mobile phone games and Nintendo products can often be good ways to get the non-gamer interested in video games. 

Jeanne-Marie Owens, vice--president of operations at Phoenix Labs, said that role-playing games like Nintendo’s newly released Animal Crossing provide a good introduction to video games. 

Animal Crossing allows players to become a villager in a town of anthropomorphic animals where they can fish, catch bugs and hunt fossils. It has no defined objective and provides a good opportunity to socialize virtually with friends. 

“Animal crossing has been like a cultural touchstone for us over the past week,” said Nick Clifford, Phoenix Labs’ marketing director. “Because it’s cute, it’s charming and it makes you feel good at a time when it’s hard to find that. The very social nature of it has brought a tonne of us together.”

Mobile phone games like those produced by Vancouver’s East Side Games (ESG) are also easy for first-timers. Company CEO Josh Nilson said ESG has had a rise in first-time players accessing its mobile games, including those based on the popular television shows Trailer Park Boys and Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Nilson also recommended several games developed by British Columbians that showcase Indigenous stories such as Terra Nova. 

Developed by Concordia University student Maize Longboat, the game puts players in a first-contact situation between settlers and Indigenous peoples in the distant future.