The New Normal: Examining How Real Life is Bleeding Into Video Games
We’ve all tuned into E3 or Insomnia to see the release of new games and conferences with celebrities coming out to make announcements (we’re looking at you Keanu Reeves, we really do love you). Video games find ways to slip into our everyday conversations, becoming cultural lingos and even coming in handy when we need cosplay inspiration. While these are ways video games are bleeding into our real lives, have you ever considered how real life is starting to pour into the gaming world?
The Covid-19 pandemic led to a massive surge in the popularity of video games, namely multiplayer games such as Call of Duty or Fortnite or one of the biggest releases of 2020 which was Animal Crossing. Video games became the to-go to keep ourselves entertained and connected with our friends and family and no other exemplified this than AC New Horizons.
Animal Crossing is in the most simple terms, a life simulator wherein you get an island that you can design as you see fit, from character customization to home decor and this is touching the surface. One could question, how is that fun? Trust me, I have been at it for 140 hours and most of it was fixing the look of my road. So, it is addictive.
Another feature of the game which arguably made it the most popular was its multiplayer mode, accommodating up to eight players who can frolic around on one island. With a socially distanced world, this platform became a haven cum virtual hanging/bonding spot for gamers, bringing them together.
Let's get LIT....at a safe distance, adhering to social distancing norms!
Marshemello's live virtual concert inside of Fortnite brought together 10.7 million players. Talk about bringing people together.
The in-game concert had breathtaking moments including players being tossed in the air during the broadcast of 'Fly' and beach balls flying with 'Happier' playing in the background.
Another time Fortnite made us grateful for its existence was when Cactus Jack made an appearance in Fortnite for a concert. During the pandemic, when we were all stuck at home and itching to go out, Epic games came to our rescue. Prior to the concert was literally building a stage in the game to gain hype and tease what the concert would be like but this was completely unexpected.
The whole island in Fortnite had a stage with a giant Travis Scott stomping around with the visuals changing with every song. The concert was full of psychedelic effects and a rollercoaster of visuals. Even though Travis Scott's live concerts are no less dope (we have all seen the raging microphone meme) but nothing can even come close to witnessing an enormous Godzilla-sized Travis walking across water. And as expected, it went on to have a staggering 12.3 million people attending the concert.
See, mom, even the hot-shot colleges are into it!
Video games are portals to disparate universes, letting people live out their fantasies and this experience is not just limited to viewing raging rappers. As graduation events were cancelled during the lockdown, Minecraft came in handy, becoming a virtual ground where universities hosted their farewell ceremonies.
Colleges such as UC Berkeley threw a 'Quaranteen Commencement 2020' in the virtual version of the Memorial Stadium with over a 100 UC Berkeley student building the ‘Blockeley University’. They even threw a two day “Blockeley University” party which consisted of concerts and a COVID-19 relief fundraiser. This was a part of a national effort wherein students were tried to keep up with campus socialization, building their university block by block and using Google Street view and photos to piece together the buildings.
“We wanted to bring people together to create some semblance of a community when were stuck at home, It's not the same thing as all being together in person. But at least in Minecraft, you don't have to be six feet away from someone else.” says Rudy Raveendran, a 2020 graduate of Boston University who co-founded Quaranteen University.
The reality effect
We’ve seen how gaming came handy during a pandemic and how it’s changing the way we've known events but what made it more immersive was the integration of Virtual Reality (VR).
Case in point: In South Korea, a TV broadcaster known as MBC aired a documentary about a family’s loss of their seven-year-old daughter Nayeon. The documentary focuses on how motion capture, photogrammetry and VR was used to recreate Nayeon so her mother has the chance to say goodbye to her deceased daughter. VR is being looked at as an opportunity to become the new face of grief therapy, allowing people to communicate and bid adieu to their deceased ones.
Video games are no more just those mindless shootings that our parents think are useless. They are pushing not just the boundaries of the world but also, the people to think differently, to fight for social change, and most importantly it helps us as a society to adapt, learn and connect. Video games are being used to fight for the planet and allow graduation ceremonies and students to get that feeling, it’s a powerful tool that is the future of our real world. Do you think we’ll reach a point where we can’t differentiate? Who knows!