Playing a board game online with friends in Tabletop Simulator. Screenshot by the author.

My first thought about playing a board game online was that it was never going to work.

Nowadays, getting a group of friends together is almost impossible without weeks of notice, and even then, at least one person is bound to be unable to make it. Layer on top of that 3 time zones in 3 countries, and players who had just been introduced online a week before, and I probably would have given up before I started, if not for one thing: the global “shelter-in-place” rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This strange time of isolation is having an unexpected impact on me. I thought that being required to stay at home would result in enjoying more…

If there’s one game that has made headlines in the current COVID-19 crisis, it’s Plague Inc. The 2012 mobile game saw a tenfold surge in players as early as January, with more than a 100k downloads in 30 days. As well as topping the charts in many countries including the US and the UK, it became the top paid-for game in China, before being swiftly removed from Apple’s Chinese App Store on 27th Feb.

I, too, have recently downloaded Plague Inc. and spent an evening under “shelter at home” conditions trying to evolve and spread a disease around the world…

Games in the time of coronavirus

With the coronavirus pandemic seizing control of our lives, I too am sheltering at home, trying to be productive and doing my best to feel connected to the outside world. I realise I am fortunate in my circumstances, and I am glad to have technology and be able to work and write from home.

In the current climate, video games are more important than ever. Kids who can’t go to the playground or to school are logging on to Minecraft to play together. I’ve had more than one group of friends start up virtual D&D campaigns, meet in an online…

Cheryl-Jean Leo

Software engineer and game designer. Work in, studied and write about video games, indie games, VR, entertainment & technology.

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