Searching for entertainment in quarantine

Students find relief from boredom in video games and TV

October 15, 2020

The day after the statewide stay-at-home-order was delivered by California Gov. Gavin Newsam, thousands of Californians went out anyways to pick up their Animal Crossing: New Horizons pre-order. People had been waiting for this game for two years since it was announced in 2018. And, since with the quarantine would surely come boredom, they decided to get it while they could.

As with Animal Crossing, people have been buying games much more often to sate their boredom. Games as a whole have shot up in popularity recently due to the general lack of fun that came with the quarantine, with video game usage up about 75 percent from the average since quarantine started.

Many people have been picking up single-player games, as single-player games are much easier to set up than multiplayer ones. One doesn’t need to gather their friends together and get on a call, they just need to turn on their system and start playing.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons swept the nation upon its release, selling as much as 11 million copies in just the first 12 days after it hit store shelves. Even now, six months after it came out, it manages to get players hooked through occasional free updates and fun characters.

Like Animal Crossing, Minecraft has, unsurprisingly, kept up its reputation since it re-exploded onto the gaming scene a couple of years ago. It’s become a game that many people can enjoy together. That holds true even now. People are logging onto servers with friends or buying realms to play online with them. Minecraft is mainly a single-player experience, though, as long-range multiplayer wasn’t officially implemented until recently with the introduction of realms.
Not all quarantine games are laid-back creative experiences, though. Senior Bryce Sales has been playing Slay the Spire a lot lately. He hasn’t been playing too much, though, having only sunk a total of 77 hours into the game throughout all of quarantine. Slay the Spire is a single-player roguelike deck-building game. “It’s like Hearthstone, but single player, and you fight monsters,” Sales says. Slay the Spire is helping to stave off Sales’ boredom with the unique form of strategy that comes with the deck-building mechanic. Sales finds that it really forces him to use his brain.

Multiplayer games have also seen an increase in popularity. Multiplayer games allow one to keep in touch with one’s friends while also staving off that staple quarantine boredom. 

Multiplayer games do need more setup, and they may require a call and maybe even a screen share.

Of the many multiplayer games out so far, a general must-have is The Jackbox Party Pack. The Jackbox Party Pack is, well, a party game. The best part is, the players don’t need the game to join a round, just a phone and the game code. Jackbox Party Pack has seven installments, each with its own collection of minigames. Despite how fun Jackbox is, it only has around 1 million downloads for all the packs combined. 

On the other hand, Among Us is a game that came out in 2018 but has recently seen a giant rise in popularity, with mobile downloads at over 80 million and rising. People love the deduction and deception-based gameplay that makes up the core of Among Us

Tabletop Simulator is also a great way to play with friends. It gives players the freedom to play more common tabletop games like chess or checkers. And it also gives users the ability to play more complex games like DND.

There’s another popular form of entertainment in TV shows and movies. TV shows have always been a good thing to turn to when bored or stressed out, but now more so than ever. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are seeing giant spikes in memberships. 

Netflix saw 16 million new subscribers this year alone. After all, Netflix has a wide variety of shows that appeal to different audiences, like The Umbrella Academy or Erased

The Umbrella Academy is a more emotionally driven superhero show. The characters battle with each other, their powers, and their own psyche throughout the events of the story and eventually come together to fight a common enemy. 

Erased is also emotionally driven, but it has a supernatural element to it instead of a superpowered one. The protagonist is occasionally sent back in time to stop tragedies from happening. He uses this strange phenomenon to save many lives. Like a kid who got hit by a truck. “I liked the time travel parts,” says junior Emanuel Megerdichian. “[Also], it’s setting which alternates between the mid-2000s and 1980s.”

Other streaming services like Disney+ have also been getting a lot of attention. That’s to be expected, though, with its wide variety of everything Disney. From Pinnochio to Deadpool, the entire Disney library is there at the click of a button, not to mention, a recording of the musical Hamilton recently got added onto Disney+.

Freshman Lauren Chang got a subscription to Disney+ soon after quarantine started. “Disney+ is really cool, it seems too good to be true,” Chang says. “I stopped watching TV in elementary school so there’s loads of shows or movies I’ve never actually seen all the way through like Princess and The Frog. So it was really fun to go back and finish those.”

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