Gaming industry booming with people stuck at home during COVID-19 pandemic

NEW YORK -- With so many people stuck at home, it will come as no surprise that millions are playing more video games more often.

Industry revenues are up 35% compared to last year at this time, and worldwide, gamers spend $1.6 billion every month to play.

Take Linus Dentel as an example. He has just finished his first year at Ithaca College, and now he likes to play Fortnite online with his friends.

He stays home. They are sheltered in place at their homes.

"You're constantly communicating," he said. "You're trying to figure out how the squad can win the game and go forward."

Linus and his brother Luke have been going to school online, and gaming offers a way for them to unwind and allows them to stay connected with friends while everyone is in quarantine.

"You're just really bonding during that time," he said. "Whatever we've done in the outside world, and everything we've shared together, we talk about."

Wasder is an app that makes social interaction even easier for gamers.

"There are fathers, daughters, sons, brothers involved," co-founder and CEO Thomas Gronnevik said. "We all have different interests inside of a huge field. We target what I call streamers and their fans."

Some of those content creators make a fortune playing video games because the streamers are followed by millions of people as they play. It's all part of the huge growth in online gaming activity since the pandemic hit, but with so many kids spending so much time in front of screens, should parents be worried?

Julie King is an expert on the subject, having just finished her PhD dissertation in this area. She feels 12 to 14 hours a day of gaming is excessive and urges parents to be vigilant.

"Make sure your kids aren't experiencing eye strain or headaches, and make sure they're getting up and moving around," she said.

King is Director of Technology at The Buckley School in Manhattan.

"We're always a little bit concerned about screen time," she said.

Still, she stressed that these times require young people to have a connection.

"(Gaming) has really become a valuable outlet for them," she said. "Feeling like they are part of a community is more important than being as worried as we normally might be about screen time."
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.