The Rise in Isolation Gaming…and Cheating
Are You Just Bad at Video Games, or Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Brought Out the Cheaters?
Video games, particularly games that are played online with others, are increasingly being used as a gateway for entertainment and socialization for those isolating at home. However, some gamers find it necessary to “hack” (i.e., cheat) and thus may ruin the gaming experience of others. We were interested in how the pandemic has affected the popularity of video games, and if (or to what extent) the number of cheaters is showing the same trend.
Heyday for the Video Game Industry
Sales of both video games and consoles have experienced double-digit increases since the beginning of the pandemic.1 To illustrate the timing of increased interest in video games, we looked at the number of site visits to the websites of certain popular video games over time. As anticipated, traffic to popular video game websites saw large upticks in or around March 2020 as physical distancing guidelines began in earnest. Daily website visits have decreased somewhat since April 2020 but have generally remained above historical levels.
The dynamics of the pandemic and physical distancing have increased the number of individuals turning to video games as a source of entertainment and socialization. With more participants there are more individuals who are willing to break the rules. Also, with the pandemic, gamers appear to more frequently turn to cheating for their own personal benefit or entertainment. If a friend or acquaintance, with whom you spend time socializing over video games, displays some of the above (or similar) characteristics, you may be gaming with a cheater.