It’s Steam-y In Here: Social distancing’s effect on the gaming community

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An image of the  Steam  logo. Steam is one of the most popular social gaming platforms.

An image of the Steam logo. Steam is one of the most popular social gaming platforms.

Ever since we’ve been told to stay at home and social distance ourselves from everyone in the outside world, everyone complains about being bored at home. I’ve seen people bring out old game consoles like their Playstation 2 or childhood Gamecube, or people have resorted to buying a Nintendo Switch and spend their time playing “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” One thing’s for sure: Social distancing has caused a surge in activity from the gaming community.

Steam, the social gaming software developed by Valve, has seen a spike in activity over the past couple weeks as a result of people being forced to stay home not just during spring break but the rest of the semester, as a result of the current pandemic concerning the coronavirus.

According to Steam Database, a third-party website that provides “better insight into the applications and packages that Steam has in its database,” Steam has set an all-time record for most concurrent users logged in at a peak of 22,678,529 users on Sunday. This is a 17.9% gain from last month’s peak of 19,238,796 users online. 


A photo of the new operation released in Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Counter Strike is one of the most popular games offered on the Steam platform.  @csgo_dev

A photo of the new operation released in Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Counter Strike is one of the most popular games offered on the Steam platform. @csgo_dev

This spike in activity is also reflected upon Steam’s most popular games in the past 24 hours, the top three of which are “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” with a peak of 1,079,644 players, rivaling its all-time record of 1,102,067 players; “Dota 2” with a peak of 647,103 players; and “PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS” with a peak of 546,511 players. 

This surge in activity isn’t uncommon on just Steam, either. The UConn Gaming Club (UCGC) has had an increase in member activity on their Discord server as a result of social distancing. 

Devyn Lowry, an eighth-semester digital media and design major and president of UCGC, said that there’s been an increase in members looking for other people to play video games with online, especially with the release of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” on March 20.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in ‘Animal Crossing’ so much so that we’ve had to create a new channel for it within the Discord server for [UCGC] where we can kind of just direct everybody there,” Lowry said. “It’s great to see that everybody is trying to find people to play with and, you know, trying to find new things to do with other people when it comes to new games.”

When asked about his own personal gaming habits, Lowry said that he’s enjoyed having the time to get back into gaming since he gets too busy during the semester, his own gaming activity having increased dramatically in the past week alone.

“It’s actually kind of refreshing, almost, to be able to focus on the things that I enjoy doing,” Lowry said.

Richard Perret, an eighth-semester management and engineering for manufacturing major and division director of UCGC, said that there are several esports teams within UCGC for many gaming communities, or divisions. Since everybody has to remain home and the leagues that the teams compete in are normally online, each team has had more time to practice together.

In an effort to stay connected and facilitate more interaction between members, UCGC will host online movie nights and game nights to ease people’s worries and to make everyone feel welcome.

“We understand that the current state of affairs can be a time of anxiety and unease for many of our members,” Perret said. “When we continue to stay active online and branch out, it helps keep a lot of the UConn spirit alive.”


Brandon Barzola is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brandon.barzola@uconn.edu.

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