However, while the concept of socialization in gaming is unfamiliar to many, video game enthusiasts have used these techniques to form friendships online and stay connected for years.

For example, in Animal Crossing, players can visit the villages of real friends or strangers who share village codes online. A virtual seaplane ride to his brother’s village full of friendly koalas has become our 2020 ritual as he continues to be isolated in Washington DC and miss his family vacation. I also meet friends from all over the world, including middle school classmates I haven’t seen since 2000.

Some people are having a birthday party through Animal Forest this year, some are dating, and some couples who have canceled their marriage due to Corona 19 even got married within the dancing. There is also a fan-made online marketplace called Nookazon where players can trade fruits and rare furniture. The site hosts quiz nights and chat gatherings for Animal Crossing players.

“The pandemic has opened the eyes of a lot of people (even non-gamers) to what games can do to bring people together,” said Daniel Luu, founder of Nookazon, a Washington, DC-based gamer and software developer. . He said one of the most popular bestsellers on his site was a 50-year-old woman who had “never played a video game in her life.” “I think the reason Animal Crossing is so successful is because anyone can do it,” he said. Lots of cute items, lots of fun characters, lots of customization,” he says. “It really helped show that video games aren’t everything like Call of Duty.”

As with many communities, the game is toxic and hostile. But when London-based gamer Jay-Ann Lopez launched a private Facebook group called Black Girl Gamers in 2015 as a safe and inclusive space in the face of racism and sexism in the gaming community, she was able to build a vibrant community. I could. Since then, it has grown on platforms like Twitch. This summer we even hosted an all-black women’s expert conference in an industry long dominated by white men.

Lopez says the game has helped both existing and new players “keep connected, social and sane” during the pandemic. “For a long time people ignored gamers or called them ‘strange’, but now people and companies want to know how to digitally maintain relationships and communities. It makes it easier for people to access.”