Virtual worlds are here to stay

Virtual worlds are here to stay

Digital platforms and virtual worlds are set to become the biggest gainers in the post-COVID-19 world. This is one of the 100 issues discussed in Walter Thompson’s updated 2020 report. According to the report, video chat app Houseparty was downloaded 2 million times during the week commencing March 16 alone and saw an increase in daily traffic of nearly 80 percent between Jan. 21 and March 24. Facebook data shows that as of March 24, 2020, time spent in group calls increased by over 1,000 percent, and Snapchat reported a 50 percent increase in video calls between February and March this year.

The 2019 study by the Entertainment Software Association found that 79 percent of American gamers believe video games provide them with mental stimulation and 78 percent find gaming offers stress relief and relaxation. In addition, 74 percent of parents believe video games can be educational for their children, while over half (57 percent) say they enjoy playing with their child at least once a week.

Some 88 percent of Americans surveyed say they have a “better appreciation” for the role technology has played in helping culture and society during the coronavirus crisis, according to April 2020 findings from the National Research Group. The next generation of virtual spaces offers a new outlet for social connection and community engagement.

The gaming industry has long noticed the importance of virtual worlds. Second Life world touched millions of people, so did Minecraft’s virtual world.

With the COVID-19, the need to escape into a virtual world has exploded because humans are really social animals. “It is very important for mental wellbeing to maintain relationships and contact with friends and family, and online games are an excellent method in facilitating this,” Dayna Galloway, head of division of games and arts at Abertay University, Scotland, told the BBC.

Fortnite hosted a Travis Scott concert in April, drawing in over 12 million players to join the live virtual performance. Its success, and Fortnite’s overall number of active users reaching 350 million in April 2020 spurred the launch of Fortnite Party Royale, which premiered on May 8, featuring Deadmaus, Steve Aoki and Dillon Francis.

People all over the world organize gatherings at the virtual worlds. Students celebrating graduations at Minecraft is a common thing now.

There are many questions to ask: Is this permanent? To what can this evolve further? Will the next generations be more willing to let go of their physical selves? Will there be a time when we can upload our consciousness to the virtual worlds?

What will become of humanity if that happens?

Ersu Ablak,