With sports in lockdown, does COVID-19 herald the victory of video gaming? This week's World Vs Virus podcast

Twenty Seven-year-old Christian Acevedo plays the video game 'Fortnite Battle Royale' from his home in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., on April 21, 2018. Acevedo says if he doesn't have to work the next day, he often stays up all night to play the popular game.   REUTERS/Jillian Kitchener - RC1EDC81D570
In lockdown, players gonna play
Image: REUTERS/Jillian Kitchener
  • Gaming and esports get a huge boost from the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Esports pioneeer Mike Sepso says gaming will replace some physical sports.
  • COVID-19 accelerates growth of what is already biggest entertainment sector.
  • World Versus Virus is a weekly podcast from the World Economic Forum.
  • Subscribe on Apple or Spotify to get it every week.

"Before, when I had my full time job, I only really got to play maybe two, three hours a night. But now my whole day is clear, I pretty much just play all day."

That's 20-year-old New Yorker Mercutio, telling World Vs Virus why video gaming is thriving during the pandemic.

In the first week of the lockdown in US states and cities, internet traffic for gaming jumped 75 percent, said industry entrepreneur Mike Sepso, citing data from telecoms provider Verizon. "When you tell kids in the developed world that they have to stay home and they can't go to school, they're going to play a lot of video games."

Gaming audiences up by 70%
The US lockdown caused a jump in gaming numbers.
Image: Stream Hatchet

But the appeal of gaming is much more than just killing time for bored teenagers. In this week's podcast, we hear how gamers were much better prepared for the pandemic than the rest of us, as so much of their lives is already lived out in the online social spaces that non-gamers have been scrabbling to create through platforms such as Zoom.

gaming esports racing
Fans of F1 and Indycar seek their thrills online.
Image: Stream Hatchet

And with real-world sports on hold, Sepso, CEO of esports company Vindex, says COVID-19 could accelerate the pace at which esports - televised, professional gaming - grabs market share from traditional, physical games.

"If you're talking about missing an entire baseball season in America, if you're talking about not having the second half of the NBA season - no finals, and potentially not starting the season again later this year, you might wind up in a situation where enough time goes by without that sport that people start to develop other fan and viewing behaviours, and might gravitate towards esports."

Traviis Scott Fortnite gaming
Gaming - it's more than just games.
Image: Stream Hatchet
Hosted by World Economic Forum editor Robin Pomeroy and published every week, the podcast puts the news in context with insights and analysis from top global experts in economics, technology, health and culture as well as the World Economic Forum’s reporters and editors.
Hosted by World Economic Forum editor Robin Pomeroy and published every week, the podcast puts the news in context with insights and analysis from top global experts in economics, technology, health and culture as well as the World Economic Forum’s reporters and editors.
Image: World Economic Forum

Also on WVV: the race for a vaccine

Hundreds of countries, companies and organisations are working together around the world in the hunt for a vaccine to solve the COVID-19 pandemic.

We hear from Seth Berkley (CEO, GAVI), Stéphane Bancel‎ (CEO, Moderna) and Paul Stoffels (Chief Science Officer, Johnson & Johnson), speaking on the World Economic Forum's COVID Action Platform.

Articles discussed in the podcast:

Find all previous episodes of World Vs Virus here.

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