The pandemic which left most of us confined to the four walls of our homes for the better part of a year has affected almost all aspects of daily life. Its affects communities all over the world, both mentally and physically. Economies and businesses took significant hits to their bottom lines as firms were forced to close down. One of the industries severely impacted is the sports and entertainment industry. As all sports came to a halt in the pandemic, many fanatics and players themselves turned to a surprisingly new and competitive avenue. Video games incorporating virtual reality and sports themes have seen constant growth throughout the new normal. From interactive games, innovative gaming consoles and equipment, and even online communities for players, the market’s interest in traditionally loved sports has morphed into a renewed interest in the current offerings of the video game industry.
While the online gaming industry and eSports are certainly on the rise, the new normal brings with it some critical changes to games and sports enthusiasts all over the globe. As things start to open back up, playing your favorite sports has become a possibility again. While close contact sports may still leave the masses a little cautious, there have also been some sports that can be played while still sticking to health and safety guidelines. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most intriguing intersections between online gaming and traditionally loved sports.
Console Gaming vs. PC Gaming
While many gamers have transitioned to computer games as their primary gaming experience, the pandemic indeed showed that console gaming isn’t dead. The sales for popular gaming consoles like Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, and even Nintendo’s Switch grew exponentially during quarantine. Research shows that this growth was largely because individuals sought out gaming as a form of entertainment, a way to decompress, and an enjoyable way to interact with their friends and communities online. As for the type of games that grew in popularity, it was definitely a good year for video game developers as popular games like Fortnite, which could be played on multiple devices like a gaming console, android device, or personal computers. Another excellent example of narrative games which users could get lost in for hours was Animal crossing on Nintendo’s switch, which saw users grow tenfold as more and more communities joined.
Virtual Sports Games
While eSports certainly continues to be an industry in its infancy compared to some of the other major players on the field, there’s no doubting its popularity. The extremely successful releases of games like NBA 2K21 and FIFA21, which The Washington Post has dubbed as the “Games that got us through a pandemic,” solidifies the intersection between traditional sports and gaming. While many real-life basketball and soccer players couldn’t physically leave their homes for a game, they found a way to satisfy their sports cravings elsewhere. While gaming doesn’t necessarily translate to real-life in every scenario, such as the previously stated Fortnite or other first-person shooter games, the pandemic left avid ball enthusiasts longing for a way to play their favorite pastimes in one way or another.
Sports Bounce Back
One of the many aspects of real-life sports that communities missed was the physicality and togetherness of playing a quick basketball game or kicking the ball around on the field. As many close contact sports had to be shut down for health and safety precautions, some great alternatives are growing in popularity during the new normal. One of the most popular has been swimming. Swimming is one of the safest sports to play in terms of the virus, as there have been no reported cases of transmission in chlorinated waters. It’s also a great way to work your energy and decompress. Pools have also implemented strict social distancing protocols to ensure individual swimmers are as safe as possible. To no surprise, Golf has also become a trendy sport during the pandemic, both virtually and physically. Virtual golf courses and swing practice simulations have been around for years, but for lovers of the sport, simulators and golf-related video games were a great way to keep the drive alive even during isolation. The sport was one of the first to open back up to the public as the physical courses allowed for open spaces and a great deal of social distancing. Along with the help of mini electric carts, players could navigate the course quickly and safely.
The sports entertainment and video game industries continue to grow and morph in an effort to meet consumer needs. Intersections between the two only become even better as newer technology is introduced, making this happy relationship one for consumers and developers to watch out for.