The world is continuing to deal with the devastating effects of COVID-19. And our home, Melbourne, is currently undergoing its second wave, with lockdown laws becoming stricter and citizens finding themselves spending much more time indoors. So the Checkpoint team look to reflect on gaming in isolation, share their gaming havens, and discuss how video games have allowed them to feel comfortable in a world that sometimes feels overwhelming.
The effects of the pandemic in the gaming scene is something we’ve discussed a bunch in the past. From the closing of gaming venues, to the cancellation of events, to the delays of upcoming titles. The impact COVID-19 is having on the gaming industry is pretty damn apparent. In fact we recently got to chat about gaming in isolation with our team as well as with members of the games industry to get their perspectives on how developers and venues have had to adapt. Feel free to have a listen below.
Gaming As A Contribution To Positive Mental Health
Throughout all of our discussions on the subject with members of our team and gamers in general, one thing is clear, gaming can be a fantastic tool for encouraging positive mental wellbeing. Whether it’s a global pandemic or just general life shittyness, gaming is being used as a distraction, a refuge, and a safe space. It’s something comfortable and relaxing that we’re able to sink into and drown out everything else going on around us. It allows us to live a different life, in a different world, in somebody else’s shoes. And now that we’re all stuck at home anyway, it allows us to pass the time and spend our days responsibly without going out into the world unnecessarily and potentially endangering others.
There are plenty of organisations and initiatives out there that are utilising gaming to increase mental wellbeing. Even video games themselves are being developed to really successfully explore mental health as a theme.
Now that we’re in the middle of this global pandemic, the need and reliance on video games is becoming a hugely useful tool for many people. In fact the ABC did a recent feature where they talked to experts on the subject of gaming during a pandemic and its link to positive mental health. The article is worth a read in its entirety but here’s some choice quotes:
“Knowing that you’re interacting with a system that has set rules and parameters is reassuring when the world outside the game is full of uncertainty.”
“Right now the world is unsettling, and many of us are troubled on a pretty existential level. A good game, like a good book or a good album, provides those beautiful little moments that make us feel less alone, like our experience is more universal.”
“We enjoy travelling and going on adventures, discovering new places. We simply cannot do that in the real world right now. But a huge sprawling open game world is probably the best available substitute for that particular itch.”
“Games are incredibly good at sucking you into their worlds and demanding your full attention. It’s what they’re designed to do. If what you’re looking for most right now is a temporary but all-consuming reprieve from the real world, video games are a relatively healthy option.”
Our Gaming Havens
For the team here at Checkpoint, gaming has always been an important element to our daily routines. However, now more than ever, it’s playing a vital role for many of us. Gaming is a refuge, and our gaming stations are our haven. Thanks to a recent giveaway we conducted in collaboration with Alienware, many of our followers were sending us pictures of their gaming havens. So we wanted to recipericate. Below you’ll find the gaming havens of some members of the Checkpoint team alongside some details on exactly what gaming has meant to us during an unprecedented global pandemic.
With staying at home becoming a high priority, my gaming havens have become all the more important. Unlike many others, I’ve personally found myself still going to work as an essential retail worker, although other elements of my life, socialising with friends for instance, has been cut down to essentially 0. Gaming for me was always important but recently it’s also been one of my only social outlets. And now, as Melbourne re-enters heavier lockdown restrictions, it may be my only social outlet for the near future. I’ve found myself returning to and getting hooked by online multiplayer games that I thought I had previously left in my past. Games such as League of Legends have fallen back into heavy rotation for me as a familiar and comfortable game that also allows me to play alongside my friends.
I’ve also found myself experimenting more with my gaming as I figure out what to do with my increased free time. I’ve always been a PC gamer, but throughout this pandemic I’ve found myself playing around with new toys and technology to really see what I could do with the platform. I wrote a feature highlighting this new journey for me entitled PC VR and the important tech behind it. With an Oculus Quest strapped to my head and Kat loco motion trackers strapped to my ankles, all streaming wirelessly through an Alienware Aurora R9, I found myself having one of the most enriching gaming experiences of my life. Playing a game like Half-Life: Alyx with this ideal setup was almost a dream come true. But ultimately it all served as a distraction. As a way to kill time and feel normal in a situation that was anything but.
With the stress of working in essential retail and being constantly exposed to conditions that could make me ill, gaming really did start becoming a haven. It was and still is a stress reliever and an opportunity for me to push forward and find comfort.
The silver lining about this whole situation has been the opportunity to try and get through as much of my video game shame pile as possible. I’ve been working from home since March, so I’m not as impacted by the burden of being “essential retail” like Elliot; luckily, for me it basically means a quick commute from my study to the couch, where I have plenty of time to finish games that I’ve never been able to before. I’ve managed to complete hefty experiences like Red Dead Redemption 2, NieR: Automata, Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima and more – these expansive open worlds certainly have gone a long way in making me feel like I’m not trapped indoors.
My gaming havens are very much that of a console boy, as this is where I spend the majority of my time gaming, but I have an Alienware M17 R3 Gaming Laptop, where I’ve been loving the opportunity to explore my PC side as well. Granted, it’s plugged into my 75″ QLED TV (thanks, tax money!) so I’m kind of using it like a gaming console, complete with Xbox wireless controller adapter and wireless keyboard so I don’t have to move off my couch. But it’s been a blast checking out some gorgeous PC games that I was previously unable – Gears Tactics is brilliant and one of the most gorgeous turn-based tactics games out there, Valorant is addictive as hell, it runs hefty beasts like Gears 5 and Metro Exodus like a dream, and I’ve even dabbled in some Ray-Tracing with games like Control.
While I wouldn’t call myself a total PC convert just yet, I’ve also been getting my Virtual Reality fix, via an Oculus Quest and Oculus Link Cable so I too can play Half-Life: Alyx and other awesome VR experiences. Being able to transport to another world when this one is such garbage at the moment is a blessing, and considering the Quest doesn’t even need a fantastic gaming laptop or PC to run, it’s a solid choice for those who want to get into the VR game with a high quality piece of tech on a budget. Having Alienware tech to back it up simply enhances the experience further and opens up a much bigger catalog of games that push the boundaries, like Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and Boneworks just to name a couple.
When the world is so chaotic, I continually look to video games as my safe space and my happy place. On top of that, my nightly squad sessions mucking around in Rocket League, Call of Duty: Warzone, Deep Rock Galactic and more via my trusty Xbox One have kept me feeling grounded, even when the news headlines make me feel anything but.
I was overseas on holiday when the pandemic really kicked off, so when I returned in late March I was required to self isolate for 14 days and go no further than my mailbox. Subsequently as the situation has escalated, this meant working from home and to be honest I have barely left the house in months. In my household both myself and my partner are both heavy gamers, this means our consoles are split between the lounge and what we call “the games room”, so there is always a space available to play.
The first 14 days for me were the hardest, there is a difference between being in lockdown but having the option of going to the supermarket and literally being forced not to leave the house. I found my gaming taste temporarily changed during that period and I was drawn to PSVR experiences and relaxing games. Catch and Release in particular got me through the 14 days. You basically just row a boat around a beautiful lake and go fishing. You can eat sandwiches, drink soda pop and listen to the radio. When I was not allowed outside I spent hours a day relaxing in this game – as many hours as my eyes could take.
A positive of working from home is I get my commute time back which is a couple of hours a day. I’ve used this extra time to dig into my gaming collection and play some classic games for the first time like Chrono Trigger for my SNES. I also finally took the plunge and bought a Mega CD II and a 32X for my Sega Megadrive to complete the tower of power and spent time collecting and playing the games. I also managed to pick up some games I have been intending to for a while such as Daytona USA and Crazy Taxi 2 for my Dreamcast and the famous Sega Saturn port of X Men Vs Street Fighter.
I honestly don’t know what I would have done during this period if I didn’t have my games to play and my own gaming havens to play them in.
It’s amazing what you miss in quarantine. I’m a homebody. Give me a good book or a decent RPG, and that’s my Friday night set. But lately, I’ve found myself missing the outside world. Sure, I never left the house much before. The only times I went out was for work and the occasional friend visit. But now that option is gone and I miss it. Sunshine, fresh air, grass… I miss it all. But hey, the inside isn’t too bad. The white walls, the wood floors, and the spiders; so many spiders. Anyway, maybe it’s the pandemic, or maybe it’s my shitty immune system, but I’ve also found myself developing a fear of the outside. For those who don’t know, I’m immunocompromised. But I guess some missing organs will do that. Throw in chronic asthma and things get a little scary. So I’ve been playing it safe and never leaving the house. Good thing videogames exist.
So my desk is what I call the ADHD special. Pill bottles, empty cans, and dice lay scattered about. I don’t mean to keep it like this, but it just happens, ya know? It’s an ordered sort of chaos, and I don’t notice it when I game. Thank goodness for screwed up object permanence. I also don’t think I could live without my twin monitor setup. I’ve been leaning on Discord a little too hard when it comes to social interaction. I’ve been in more group calls this year than I have in my entire life. The ability to just have it open on another screen while I disassociate in Final Fantasy 14 has become crucial.
Also, am I the only one who loves mechanical keyboards? Not from a gaming standpoint, just based solely on the clickity-clack noise they make when you’re typing. Whether it’s writing something for Checkpoint, or telling the DPS to limit break; there’s something satisfying about that noise accompanying every word you type. To that end, I’ve been using a Corsair K70 Mk.2 mechanical keyboard and it has been a hoot. Couple that with my Corsair Glaive gaming mouse and my gaming havens have started looking a little more high tech. They’re also very responsive gaming accessories, I hardly notice any lag. Of course, off to the side sits an Xbox One controller. I may be a big PC nut, but there are some games that just feel so much better on the controller. I mean have you tried to play a platformer on a keyboard? It’s a nightmare.
Across from the desk, currently parked on a chest of draws, is the second part of my setup. My nintendo Switch has gotten me through thick and thin since I got it three years ago. From shitty exams to homelessness, it’s carried me through it all. I even think it’s a better gaming system than the PC, but don’t tell Elliot I said that. Sitting right next to it, and hooked into the same old flatscreen as the Switch, is my girlfriend’s PS4. These consoles have become extremely important. The PC might have become the center of my world, where I study, work and play. But sometimes I just need a rest, and that’s where these consoles come in. There’s just something wholesome about sitting in bed, under a mountain of blankets, and hunting for power moons in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s all very cozy. And it’s helping keep the madness away, so there’s that.
The world may be going to hell outside with a virus that could kill me if I catch it, but at least I have these distractions to help tide me over. Happy Armageddon everyone.
I have been a gamer all of my life, collecting and playing games has always been my go-to when I want to unwind. It started off with the NES and SNES, and as I was able to purchase my own items I grew a hefty collection of various memorabilia, consoles, handhelds, and titles. These days I don’t spend nearly as much as I used to on video games (I’m a new father with a mortgage), but it still remains a passion for me.
I have long been a console gamer, but I recently got into PC gaming, and I haven’t looked back. I currently use a computer that consists of a Ryzen 3600x processor and an RTX 2070 Super graphics card, coupled with a Logitech G502 Hero mouse and Steelseries Apex 5 keyboard, with the Steelseries Arctis 5 as my headset of choice.
My gaming havens consist of nearly every console, and I pride myself on the collection I have amassed over the years, for me, this is where I like to spend a lot of my spare time. I currently turn to Generation Zero, Hunt: Showdown, and 7 Days to Die, but I also love revisiting favourites from my past, one of which being Spec Ops: The Line.
I work in the demanding face-to-face sales arena, so being in isolation is not ideal as I am used to being on the road and visiting clients, but having a hobby like video games to keep me occupied within my home when not working sure does help, and I absolutely love still being able to hang out (virtually) with friends, have a laugh, and play some games together as a replacement for catching up in person.
For the team here at Checkpoint, our gaming havens have been supporting us in ways we couldn’t have ever imagined 6 months ago. It’s a crazy time to be alive and everybody will deal with the circumstances in their own way. We hope our readers are staying safe, sane and happy. Although if you ever need help there are always places you can reach out to.