The (Awfully) Great COVID Gaming Experience

S1: E2 | The (Awfully) Great COVID Gaming Experience

Daniel A. Kaufmann, Ph.D
Dr. Gameology on Twitch & The Gaming Persona Podcast
Owner of Area of Effect Counseling

In this episode, Dr. Gameology and Jenny review COVID Gaming and what video games have done for them during the 2020 quarantine. Multiple games are brought into the conversation of gaming in isolation may not end up feeling so alone. Research findings are applied to exercise games, in-game pets, guilds / in-group play of online games, and more.


Gaming Library:

Sea of Thieves, The Last of Us: Part 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Persona 5 Royal, Persona 4 Golden, Jackbox Party Pack, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Manifold Garden, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Beat Saber, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, World of Tanks, Defense of the Ancients


Welcome to The Gaming Persona podcast. This is the show for exploring who we become when we play games. I’m your host Dr. Gameology from Twitch and grad school classrooms across the country, and I’m joined by my cohost, Jenny Lebron from the Gear Up Gaming Shop. How’s your journey through today going Jenny?

I’m doing fantastic. And I’m excited to be here.

Awesome. So what is our first official topic for the show? Since last episode, we were introducing ourselves, what are we talking about today?

So we’re going to be talking about video games in the time of COVID-19 and quarantine.

Oh, man, that is a really good topic. Well, as long as people listen to it in the next week, or three months, or nine months, decade… I think that’s the point, is time keeps drifting into itself and I actually have no concept if I’m going to upload this episode today or tomorrow or next week because it’s all the exact same thing. Just broken up by when I decide to sleep. Do you feel the same? Or is this just the weird way life is going for me?

No, absolutely. There was a time especially in the beginning of quarantine, where I did not know what day, it was and things are a little bit more structured now, which I’m grateful for, but time is still weird.


The Ordinary World


As you know, Jenny, and our listeners are getting used to this, our first segment of every episode is the Ordinary World, but for this special episode about the way the world is fitting into our games, and vice versa, I would just like to state that the ordinary world sucks. Or does it? You know, that’s, that’s something that I was really excited to talk about with you because I have an interesting perspective, given what I do (At least I think it’s interesting), and I’m really hoping to share that during the episode today. So before I spill all the beans and make the entire structure of the episode go kaput, I would like to let you start. What’s your week in the world of gaming been since the last time we hit record?

Okay, so this week was puppy week in Sea of Thieves. I call it puppy week because I don’t know if anyone else does. But so I play a game called Sea of Thieves. And we’ve talked about it a little bit you and I, but it’s been so much fun to play. And one of the things that they do in game is it’s not like a play to win game. It’s the like in-game currency, you spend it on cosmetics. So one of those cosmetics, well actually this one you actually do have to pay for real money for but anyway, you can get pets in game. So before last week, you could only get cats, birds, and monkeys. Which makes sense, I guess for pirates, because it is a pirate game. I don’t know where the cats came from. I don’t I really understand why cats were on a ship, but whatever. So last week, we were allowed to have puppies and I am a dog person. So I’ve been literally counting down the days until last week’s update so I can finally get my puppy in game. However, it was a really busy week for me so I didn’t actually get to play very much last week. I was able to like log in, buy my puppy, named my puppy Glitterbeast. That is the name of my puppy. It’s fantastic. So I didn’t get to play much last week. There was an event going on that I wanted the sails, like there’s special sails that you can get. And I was so close to getting them, but I was so busy that I didn’t really get to play. So luckily, Toby, my boyfriend, logged into my account and did it for me, which was really nice of him. And I’m grateful.

COVID Gaming
COVID Gaming | Pets provide an aesthetic goal for players to add to their list of achievements. Just like with living pets, what we choose to run around with us in game tells a story about who we are trying to be in-game.


Whoa, that’s some serious stuff, Jenny. Oh my gosh, I feel so weird about that. Okay, can I do a teacher story really quick? So I know that Sea of Thieves is not even involved in the little game that we like to call Academia, but if somebody signs into the learning management system as you and does anything, you could permanently fail my class and get expelled from the program. Maybe this is the beginning of my weirdness about login credentials. I just feel like it’s like a signature, like you committed Sea of Thieves plagiarism Jenny!

Fine. I won’t get my doctorate in Sea of Thieves, I promise.

Yeah, darn right. You’re not going to. But Toby, thanks so much for letting my good friend get her puppy, what, Glitterbeast? So Jenny back when we first started talking about doing this podcast, I had just decided to rebrand and become Dr. Gameology as I go by now on the interwebs. And at that time, I was coming up on playing The Last of Us Part Two. I named my horse with the help from my chat. The chat at Twitch came up with the name, they voted, and my other good friend – Scrublandshad – his wife actually overruled him and we named the horse Pickles. So shout out for a couple of people I like a lot. And so Pickles was my horse when I was playing as Ellie, and it created this bond that got torn out of my soul. Within minutes of this nice heartwarming… but my one of my first mental health moments was actually about equine therapy and the connections that are possible in the psychological improvements that can be found by this connection from animal to person. I’m wondering if Glitterbeast so far in Sea of Thieves is giving you any of that, or again, is this just the way I am with games and the process of coming up with a name for something?

So, I haven’t had enough chance to bond with Glitterbeast because I haven’t had a chance to play. So I don’t know. The verdicts still out on that. We’ll see.

Well, so Glitterbeast is literally kneeling at the front door of Sea of Thieves waiting for you to come home. Refill his water hole, take him for a walk, and he’s probably telling himself “Jenny doesn’t love me?”

No. He’s being taken care of by the other pirates. It’s fine. I trust them. I don’t know if….

Disney definitely taught me that that is the right way to live life. Any other games or any other really neat activities that have been coming up for you?

Yes. So we started raiding in SWTOR again. And after not playing for a few years, first of all, it’s really fun. And I really missed raiding and DPS-ing, and just destroying things with my lightsaber.

Can I pause you right there? I actually got some feedback for our episode from a few people. You just said so many cool things. And I know exactly what you mean, but what is a SWTOR (since I literally changed my name to Dr. Gameology because of this problem)?

So, SWTOR is Star Wars: The Old Republic It’s a video game that we played together. We hadn’t played in a really long time, and now we do again. It feels wonderful to play it, and I’m happy. It does also feel awful, because I feel like a noob again. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I completely forgot my rotation, which, for those who don’t know, is the order that you should do your moves to deal the most damage that you can per second.

COVID Gaming
COVID Gaming | Choosing to play new characters can keep a game feeling fresh and provide new challenges.

Yes, damage per second (DPS!). If we were their research paper, we can put parentheses DPS now, damage per second.

Yeah. I’m a noob. Again, and it’s awful, but also exciting because I’m going to be not a noob soon.

Well, I think that the raid team that I put together about a month ago, I completely flipped upside down the way I was playing Star Wars: The Old Republic as well. I was on a nightmare raiding team. I was on a hard mode team with one of my good friends through the game named Marcus, who also as a podcast named Working Class Nerds, which is one of the things that gave me the desire to come back into podcasting and do this. They actually gave us a shout out last week, Jenny, I don’t know if I told you that?

You did, and I’m so grateful.

Yeah, so on that topic, everyone who heard our first episode already during the first week thank you so much!

Since this is a recorded TARDIS moment, Time And Relative Dimensions In Space = TARDIS, if you’re listening now, thanks for deciding to do that, too. Doesn’t matter what year it is, it doesn’t matter if I’m still existing as a sentient being right, I just think it’s awesome that you’re listening to us define our acronyms all over the place. So, it’s been super awesome to bring you back into the game, Jenny, because we were friends before The Old Republic, but that was a really awesome foundation for a couple of years where we knew even if we’re incredibly busy, we’re going to talk on Thursday, or we’re going to talk on Sunday. We also brought our friend Jessica back; I went to college with her and she’s been really fun to reconnect with. Some of the friends I’ve made in the game while I was playing solo, they’ve helped us to create really nice chemistry for our team. I know it’s such a fun team. Yeah, so we’re going to have to do a whole episode or series of episodes dedicated to raid teams; what these kinds of experiences are, and the different styles of raiding even are because a lot of research in the fields of social science will just say raiding and that’s it. There’s actually so much to it, that making all the people who play raids into one category, it removes the uniqueness of the different ways that they play. For this team, I played my first ever operation as a Powertech, which is one of the classes with very different abilities than I’m used to. So even though I was in “noob mentality” at the beginning of the night, on Sunday, by the time we got to the end, I was even commenting I was shocked at either I became decent at it by the end of the night, or that class is such a crutch that BioWare has created a class that essentially has permanent training wheels on it. Perhaps they have, and maybe I should ask my friends over at Ootinicast off air, what they think about the training wheels that are Powertech, and certainly the comments that we get over the week, maybe people can blast me.

So I guess I shared a little bit about my week already. I would just like to say though, since our show is The Gaming Persona, one of the things that made us come up with that idea is I had just finished streaming 115 hours of Persona 5 Royal on Twitch, all of it was on Twitch, I did not play a single moment that wasn’t recorded. You can watch it all if you really want to on YouTube as a playlist. So Persona is a really big franchise for me. I started playing Persona 4 Golden on my Twitch channel this weekend, just for a couple hours. So we’re still in the part that is a tutorial and establishing the story. I love that game. I just want to take a break and talk about the other game that I’ve been playing all week, which is Buzzsprout! (which is a game). Trying to convince all of these podcast vendors to take our file and give it to people so they can find us. I was surprised how much success I was able to get in the first week. So we are currently on Apple, Google and Spotify and also Stitcher. Then there’s a number of podcast outlets that take the RSS feed directly from Apple. So you would in theory be able to find us there too. So The Gaming Persona is live on everything we just listed, and moving forward if we’re missing one, just let me know on Twitter and I’ll look into it. I’m really happy with the list that we’ve amassed so far. I truly felt like I leveled up every single email that I got that said, “Your show is listed on our site!” (especially Apple). Oh my gosh, that one was really much more difficult than the others. I am so excited to win that game. So let’s segue into our Call to Adventure.

As we set out to explore what gaming is during Coronavirus, I wanted to get a couple of different data points that we could talk about. Before I go over those data points, I just want us to have a person-to-person moment here. What do you feel like games are (before I influence it with any data in a world that’s functioning like it is with COVID-19)?

Well, for me, they’ve been a chance to socialize. I’m at a time where I could easily isolate. They’ve been a chance to connect with people, to have fun when everything is just so stressful and scary. They’ve been a chance for me to connect and just do different things that I normally wouldn’t do in gaming. I just try new things and try new games. That’s kind of what I’ve been up to in quarantine when it when it comes to gaming.

Yeah, I relate to a lot of those things. For me, I guess I have been pushing myself to be more on the content creating side. In terms of streaming, I’ve even added (when I can manage it), I go live on my Twitch channel, during what I’m calling my “lunch break.” Sometimes lunch isn’t until 2:30pm though. I let my students know if you want to have a moment of genuine interaction with me, pop by my Twitch channel and talk about your class because a lot of the classes I teach are online. They don’t have what we call a synchronous interaction built into the course. We are having a synchronous interaction right now, Jenny, meaning I’m here and you’re here. I can say something and you instantly hear it and can instantly respond. A lot of online classes don’t actually function this way. All of the teaching is me shooting a message at the class, then some people responding. Then nine hours later, when I check what happened with that message, I can respond. So we create this allusion of the classroom. An allusion, not an illusion (although maybe both work). It’s online like a classroom is what we’re aiming for. I’ve decided to use that my whole Dr. Gameology persona really is an opportunity for my students to get to know me. They can listen to this podcast. They can watch me freak out when the Last of Us: Part 2 decides to cover Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those moments, I can’t set those up getting ready for a lecture. They are so amazing. To be able to talk about the quarantine like this has transformed me in ways I would not have even been able to predict 12 months ago as an educator and as a game player. So, I also was curious about how my followers on some social media platforms are experiencing this, so I put out a poll. The question was, “What percent of your social life has been saved by gaming or online entertainment activity during Coronavirus?” The options for answering this were 0%. Somewhere between zero and 50, somewhere between 51 and 89. And over 90% of my socialization was saved by gaming or online entertainment. Before I share the results of that journey, if you answered this question, which of those choices do you think you would answer with?

I would say over 90% That’s what I would pick. Yeah. Especially since you include online entertainment activity. I basically had a quarantine group going on, like an online group of friends. We got together a couple of times a week to play different games. A lot of it has been Sea of Thieves, which, you know, I talked a little bit about. We also in the beginning of quarantine started out playing Jackbox, which is a party type game. It’s just different types of trivia games and things like that. Drawing type games of games and simple fun. It was just a nice thing to be able to do to escape and not have to think about all the craziness and the scariness of COVID-19, or the reality of everything that’s going on. Then beyond that, we also had some nights with some of my friends doing online movies. So yeah, online entertainment activity. In terms of socialization, especially since physically we couldn’t go anywhere for a good amount of time. Yeah, right. We’re 90% for sure.

I remember for me, I haven’t done this too much with too many different people, but there was a day where we were just talking on the phone. I was grading papers because That’s what I do every day. For real, that’s the biggest video game I have is the Learning Management System. I had the Empire Strikes Back open in my iTunes on my second monitor and I thought, “Jenny, if I can share this through Zoom, do you want to watch this with me?” and you said, “Sure!” It worked amazingly, and we’re not even in the same time zone or same part of the country. It’s just so cool that I can watch Star Wars with you all the way over there when I’m all the way over here. I know that other people are doing this because discord put out some really good notifications at the beginning of quarantine about their business model shifting to be more COVID-19 friendly. Disney Plus also changed their release strategy for some movies, since they knew people were going to be stuck at home, and it would be nice to watch something that is new and fresh. I just think that we’re seeing a lot of great things in the world, that definitely would not happen if it was “business as usual.” or if stock prices are everybody’s main concern. So, the results also from the Twitter poll kind of reflect what we’re talking about if you put over 90% (which was 32.8% of the vote). Then in the 51 to 89% people (which was 20.4), you have over 50% of these people responding to me. This is not a scientific poll, but people who follow me probably play MMORPGs, or those who have encountered me at a mental health conference are likely do things that put them in proximity where technology is interesting to them. Over 50% of these people are saying that over 50% of their social life was saved by gaming or online entertainment in the last six months. This is definitely reflected in our financials for our country, too. There’s been a 9% increase in overall industry consumer spending on video games. So we’re at 10.86 billion in Q1. Remember, Q1 was only really impacted by the shutdown for one month. So two “basically normal” months where we are doing business-as-usual, then the third month, we arrive at a 9% swing. I couldn’t track down the numbers for Q2, although Q2 is finished at this point as well. I’d be curious to see that, and maybe revisit that as just a side comment in a future episode. So there’s just been so many really good opportunities to capitalize on what games can be and what the internet can allow us to do during Coronavirus, even down to my students who are taking classes with me the whole time. They did not have to stop learning and delay their graduation date or anything of that kind. I think it’s really great, (what games have been capable of) and the connection we have with people over great distances to disseminate information.


The Road of Trials


I’d like to move us over to the Road of Trials for today’s episode. This is where we talk about gameplay or challenges, and insights for our topic; which is obviously COVID-19. I want us to be able to relate to some of these findings as well as we go through them. So are there any challenges that you’ve been facing as a game player with this being the “new normal?”

Yeah, so there are a couple. One of them, I would say, is just how we’re at home all the time. We were talking a little bit about this earlier, but the time is kind of hard to separate. What time is work time and what time is fun time and what time are you supposed to be doing what? So that’s been a little bit challenging. It’s kind of hard to delineate that. I don’t know if you’ve experienced that.

Yeah, I found some ways to work around it. Some of them are really neat from a technological perspective. For example, the beginning of the quarantine, I got this ad, probably on Facebook, that XSplit, which creates one of the software systems you can use for game streaming, was offering their virtual cam software for a reduced price. I bought it because I love green screening myself into places, especially during faculty zoom calls, but as a game streamer as well I like this ability. It looked like it would be a really easy system to utilize. It actually has been great because I can put a background behind myself that is a therapy office. I can put a background behind myself that reminds me of a classroom at my university. I can also put myself on the throne from the Rise of Skywalker. So, no matter what it is I’m doing, when I see myself on the screen and what’s being recorded or transmitted. I get this feeling like this is the role that I’m playing right now. That little switch up of my cognitive presence helps me to manage myself during the hours and hours of screen time that I’m getting every day. This is something video games do too. I think we’re seeing COVID-19 is making people lose track of time or lose track of the calendar. In the United States, it has been found by Statista that we as a country are playing video games 45% more than we were pre-March 2020. Think about that. If you’re used to playing three hours on a Wednesday night, that means you’re playing almost four and a half.

That’s definitely going to be one of the other things that has happened occasionally; just getting lost in in playing when I do get the time to play.

Yeah, even in a smaller scale of severity. This is definitely not as big of a deal, but one of the Sunday evenings I was trying to gather our team together for a raid night and one or two people in Discord said “Oh, that’s the day it is?” I think that connects so perfectly to what you’re talking about. You are getting lost on the calendar because the lines that we’re used to measuring time by, like our work week, feel exactly the same as doing it Monday through Friday. It also feels exactly the same, whether it’s extreme morning or regular morning 11pm or 11am… It really doesn’t matter. We’re getting a front row perspective of just how much of a construct time actually is. For me, one of the biggest disruptions is we lost Star Wars Celebration. Any other travel that we were planning to do during this time of the year, me and my family had to completely alter the way that we thought this year was going to look. By extension, our connection to fandoms, we are doing PAX and other events now via Twitch streams. That’s very different. I’m really glad that the people hosting those events were altruistic enough to decide that’s the route they’re going to go. The “we want people to have something to do” path. I think that that’s a really great reframe to focus on. I know a lot of things have happened for me, but they’ve happened because my mindset has stayed in this place of “This is the situation, what is the best I can do with it?” Some of my colleagues are definitely in the camp of “This is so hard…” and those are the first five words of every sentence that they will say to me during a meeting.

I also think that video games can be a safe haven for a lot of these things too. You can lose track of time, but they also can be a really great place for the positive parts of our week to happen. We’ve talked so much about the social nature of the way we choose to play games already. There have been so many games that have served as an amazing creative outlet for people. Some of these are not my cups of tea, but Animal Crossing on the Switch. I had to buy two copies of that, because we all have Switches in this house. My son wanted to play it on that first week. My wife wanted to play it too. I did not want to play it, but that’s okay for me is as a, as a game player, right? I do recognize that the timing of those developers working on that game started a couple years ago, but how amazing is it? It really makes you feel like there could be a reason to believe things happen with a purpose.

Yeah, even though I don’t play it, and I really don’t know that much about it. I just love that game because it introduced so much more of the world to gaming. It also demonstrates the positive effects of gaming, and it feels like it’s the beginning of something for whatever reason. That’s what it feels like to me.

Yeah, with you saying that to Jenny, I might have to do a stream with no knowledge on the game. Just set up three hours of me trying to figure out what Animal Crossing is, just so that I can have an attempt at a clumsily informed perspective. That’s really what this show is pushing me to want to be. I want to have a scope to this show where all games are fair game, and I really want to be able to plunge into that with a mindset of enjoying psychological concepts and enjoying games, and asking what does this game give us to think about? Animal Crossing is definitely a challenge for me that I would love to figure out.

There’s a creative part to that game. I know that, and there’s also the stress and anxiety relief element because it’s such a low stakes game. There’s no PvP that I know of in that game. I don’t know, correct me if I’m wrong.

Oh, wouldn’t that be a great spin on that game though?

Yeah, right? Old classic PVP.

[Animal Crossing: New Horizons] introduced the world to the idea that video games can help you with your stress and anxiety, because during that time, especially in the beginning of quarantine, I don’t know that I knew anyone that wasn’t stressed out. There were so many people that never really played video games before that who were playing Animal Crossing. They were using it as just a tool to relieve some of that stress, relieve some of that anxiety. I didn’t play Animal Crossing, but that’s how I was using Sea of Thieves. That’s how I was using the different games that I was playing, just to get some of that and give that anxious energy somewhere to go. A lot of people did lots of different things; cooking, exercising – (I may or may not have made any like loaves of banana bread), but I definitely am a “Pirate Legend.” I have a virtual puppy named Glitterbeast… so come at me 2020!

On that topic, I personally have been playing a game called Manifold Garden, which was a flash sale in the Nintendo Switch store. It’s so amazing. It puts me in this really relaxed state where I’m problem solving. It’s a game where you basically just move different colored blocks on to triggers, and you control gravity. The art style is very Escher-like in the sense that it’s sketches. The game is all about shifting the perspective of the room by altering where gravity is pointing and maneuvering, It’s a puzzle solver, but the sounds, the music that goes along with it, it creates a chance for really great anxiety relief. If I were to need that, I would definitely recommend a game of that kind for people. I actually read an article somewhere online. And I’m trying to find it but I’m not succeeding. But it was about a player’s perspective on how the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has therapeutic value from a mindfulness perspective because it’s open world and expansive. That’s the kind of thing that makes me really love gaming. Certainly you can become addicted, and that can cause a negative shift in the way you’re organizing your life. There’s still so much good in it to be found. My goal, given what I do, is to never downplay either of those. I did mention, there will eventually be an episode of The Gaming Persona where we dive into the pathological potential for gaming problems. I will still put everything I’ve got into that episode when it’s time. That’s my effort not to downplay it for today. I believe in a world where everyone’s stuck at home, that video games present a beautiful opportunity for people to get through the in-house quarantine “work from home / live at work situation” that we’re all in.


The Ascent


Let’s elevate the topic and go to the Ascent. So this is where I’m really going to try to share more research and more interesting points that connect with our topic to help us have an informed perspective of these experiences.  So this is our first Ascent, and I just would like to say that the social properties and the health benefits of playing certain kinds of games are an amazing asset at this point in time. So, Jenny, when I say something like that, where does your mind go? And what do you think I’m about to talk about?

So probably something like exercise?

Right, because usually people think video games prevent you from exercising, and you wouldn’t be wrong to think that. Still, I have been working on eating healthier and making time for myself to hit a daily step goal and do many different things. I aim to overcome the tendency to just sit in this computer chair all day. I realized I have a PlayStation VR, and then I just thought to myself on a whim “Has anyone researched Beat Saber?” because I have the PlayStation VR specifically to play Beat Saber. I found this rating system from the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise where they took a lot of Beat Saber players and compared the calory burn they experience in certain styles of Beat Saber to other physical activities. It was shocking what I found! With Beat Saber, if you turn up the difficulty, and you turn off the ability to fail (play in no fail mode for people who are familiar with the Guitar Hero and Rock Band kind of situation) …. So it’s not about playing the game well! It is about swinging those sabers like you are a mad person, and nothing’s going to stop you. Just hit all the boxes however you want, and just play the whole song and do that for a period of time. You can burn the same amount of calories as professional tennis players burn during a tennis match.

That is intense, because tennis is really hard.

Right? Extremely difficult. For context on this, I cannot play Beat Saber that way right now in my current abilities as a non-athlete for more than 15 minutes. I can’t do it. I have to drop in some of the easier songs that give me a chance to be a little bit more like a Padawan, and a little bit less like a Skywalker.

Well. When I played it the one time at your house, the next day my legs were sore.

Dodging panels that fly at your face requires it’s not just waving your arms.

Yeah, you have to bend down.

Yeah, so that was the first finding. So really, really interesting stuff. I’m excited to bookmark that website, which again, Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise, because I am fascinated to talk more about VR gaming because of all of the psychological perspective bending that it does to give you that game experience. It’s amazing. I can’t wait to talk about it.

So tennis equals Beat Saber, roughly speaking, right? Another thing that’s interesting is guild activity. Guilds are collections of people that are coming together inside a virtual space, usually a video game, to support each other in whatever purpose the guild identifies for itself. So it could be a role-playing guild, we call that RP style play. It could be a PvP guild. It could be a raiding guild. It could be a guild that’s more geared towards the weekly / repetitive kinds of missions. That is more about spending time with people and playing in a more casual, but definitely organized, fashion. A lot of guilds that I’m connected with and have friends in are reporting numbers like a 30-40% increase in membership or in daily sign ins. One study by Gabbiadini et al. 2014 is about how we derive enjoyment from playing video games, and the ability to feel like you’re a part of an in-group, is actually a variable and determining your satisfaction with the gameplay. I think that that’s really interesting. I know for the two of us, we formed a guild, and I’ve been a part of several different ones over the years. We might have different perspectives on this. How does that impact the way you connect with games in the massively multiplayer genre versus games where you’re not playing that way?

It basically is reason I play. Even if the concept of the guild wasn’t there, I would still log in to play with my friends. In essence, that would be my guild. It’s a huge motivator for me in playing MMORPG’s. It’s why I’m playing SWTOR again. I’m really excited for about the group that we have and playing. Just hanging out with you guys once a week is fun. Yeah, so it makes sense to me that it’s grown so much during quarantine.

Also, we’re seeing a lot of increase in communities centered around different kinds of games. It’s not just MMORPGs, as there are social components of games like World of Tanks, or Defense of the Ancients. There are different features and mobile games now that will encourage people via their smartphone notifications to join in on certain battles. For me, I would never help my team very much that way, because I will get this alert and I might be in the middle of doing something. My life just doesn’t match with playing a mobile game that way. In a time like this, I think that’s a neat way to create the experience of connecting with people in a small way. You get these bigger challenges that require 20 people to band together in order to win. For that random moment at 2:15pm, you get to do it. That little spike in your positivity can completely shift the flow of your afternoon. That’s a simple thing that you can experience playing a mobile game, playing a console or PC game, being aware of what your discord notifications are doing. It’s consistent across a couple research studies. I know I already plugged one, but there was one specifically on shooter and strategy type games that was compelling. If you’re in a random squad or versus people you know, how much do you enjoy the game? That finding is consistently showing that playing with people you feel a connection with does improve the sweet taste of victory?


The Return


Now is the Return, where we come down back into the Ordinary World. So, what do you think we should talk about next week?

Well, next week, we are going to talk about the “MMO Iceberg.”

I am so excited to convince everyone that we have yet another iceberg because this is what counselors do. We have the anger iceberg. We have the Freudian “unconscious” iceberg, and I’m just going to have fun and try and convince you MMORPGs are also a psychological iceberg.

Okay. I’m sure it’ll be great.

Oh, man! Everyone, you heard it in her voice, the “you will try.” All right, so for everyone that’s listening, thank you so much for making the first week of our show hitting the internet a huge success. I have one thing to ask all of you to do…

Continue the Journey.

Important Links


Gabbiadini, A., Mari, S., Volpato, C., & Monaci, M. (2014). Identification processes in online groups: Identity motives in the virtual realm of MMORPGs. Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications, 26(3), 141-152.

NPD Games. 2020 Games Market Dynamics Report, Q1. – May 2020

Sensor Tower. Top Mobile Games by Worldwide Revenue – July 2020

Statista. Increase in time spent playing video games during COVID-19 – March 2020

VR Health Institute. Beat Saber –

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