There has never been a word that has spread around the world at such speed as social distancing. Most are likely unaware that this compound noun is not a new invention and that its first-recorded use dates back to the 1950s. However, no one can argue that only a select few knew of it before the tumultuous events of 2020.
Today, not only is this term and the accompanying measures implemented by government institutions engulfing our real-world existence, but they are spilling over to the digital sphere as well. In October of 2019, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios released Minecraft Earth, an augmented reality sandbox title developed by Mojang Studios. Based on the original Minecraft, it features the same building and exploration gameplay available on iOS, iPadOS, and Android devices. A March update of this title introduced several new features, including guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization and the US Center for Disease Control. These advised players to avoid public places and gatherings of ten or more people.
Minecraft Earth is not the only game that incorporated features related to the current pandemic. Pokémon Go, another augmented reality mobile game, has done the same by limiting player gift options and increasing bonuses. Both titles aim to promote limited interaction between players hoping that these new features will contribute to them staying at home.
Online Roulette, an Alternative to Playing at a Land-Based Venue
Once the worldwide lockdowns began at the start of March, and gaming venues around the globe closed, land-based industry revenues plummeted. Online casinos were already on an upward trajectory, but recent events sent the numbers of new user registrations to sky-rocket. People discovered that they don’t have to walk to a real-life gaming venue to learn how roulette wheel works and spin it for real money prizes.
Now, there is no need to put yourself in danger, as you can enjoy games of chance from the comfort of your home. Crowded casino floors packed with strangers are a thing of the past. You don’t even have to play against software. You can opt for an authentic casino experience, go up against a dealer situated in a studio, or one at a table at a famous European establishment. Live table games have been around since Playtech offered the first piece of live-action in 2003. However, today the offer is vast, and Latvia-based Evolution Gaming is responsible for one of the most popular games in the digital sphere, Lightning Roulette. An innovative variant of the classic table game.
The Pandemic Began a Mobile Gaming Social Evolution
Gaming experts note that 2020 should go down in history as the year when the tides shifted in favor of mobile gambling. If you find such statements hard to believe, then you haven’t done your research. In China, once the lockdowns began, mobile game downloads hit an all-time high of 284 million in February. The trend later shifted to the western world, as people there found themselves in a similar predicament. The App Store reported that downloads grew to three billion in 2020, a 35% increase year-on-year. Google Play released numbers showing that the number of Android apps installs increased by 38% to 10 billion. If things keep moving at this pace, the mobile gaming industry may hit annual revenues of close to $100 million by 2024.
Experts claim that the main culprit for this rise is because these games offer an inexpensive escape from reality and that they are helping people remain social while social distancing. Another contributing factor is the happiness aspect, as several studies have linked gaming to positive effects on mood, proving these activities relate positively to mental health. Party games that have risen in popularity since the global pandemic include Heads UP, Words with Friends, and Escape Team. Poker has also made a comeback, and Poker Face, a video chat Texas Hold ’em poker game, recently crossed two billion total video minutes between live video chat players. The average gaming session on this title is 42 minutes per day.