‘Video games and daily running became a mainstay in my life’ –  Sheffield gamer reveals how hobby has helped him through lockdown

“In times like this, videogames are a great interactive portal into another world” – A Sheffield gamer has spoken about his passion for gaming and how it has helped him combat boredom in lockdown.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 9:40 am

Videogame companies have seen a huge increase in traffic this year as hundreds of millions have been forced to stay at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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A gamer plays on the new Sony PlayStation PS5. (Photo by YELIM LEE/AFP via Getty Images)

For many, gaming has become a social lifeline to stay in touch with family and friends and build other friendships within the online community.

Avid gamer and journalist Chris Hallam, from Sheffield, has been using his passion for gaming to escape into an interactive world during the lockdown.

Chris said: “Lockdown changed everything for so many of us. "Personally, I was just rediscovering a city I had left 16 years prior and then all of a sudden I wasn’t.

“Video games and daily running became a mainstay in my life as lockdown living commenced, specifically Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (after a brief flirtation with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, recommended escape fodder by the way).

Star Engagement Editor and gamer, Chris Hallam.

“Six of us used to squad up daily, as we worked together to work our way through the Battle Pass tiers. I clocked up a fairly rudimentary (in comparison to others) 140+ hours in a couple of months, alongside brief forays into other games. State of Decay 2 was also a laugh, incredibly buggy, but a laugh. But everything seemed to be a palette cleanser (of sorts) until the inevitable return to COD.

"Months of cooperative gaming sessions ensued, chatting to friends I knew so well but couldn’t see for an even longer stretch of time (and still can’t because of shielding) — it was fun.”

He added: “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War came out later in the year and some of us switched to that, but it was short-lived, and the collective sessions swiftly died out, and then the Xbox Series X came out. I was one of those fortunate enough to get my hands on one, one of the guys went over to the PS5 (heathen), and we had one last go on Black Ops before ditching it and shifting over to Destiny 2.

“Sure pubs, clubs and restaurants are closed, which is a shame (understatement of the year, I know), but when it’s safe we’ll go back out there and meet up once again in the real world… as well as online.

“It’s easy to give video games a bad rap because of perceived addiction (which comes with any form of entertainment activity or drink/drugs related proclivity), lack of social interaction, and the preconception that games are just a kids domain. It’s clear that it isn’t, it hasn’t been for the longest time, and long after this godforsaken pandemic shuffles off this mortal coil, we’ll still be gaming, enjoying ourselves and harming nobody.”

Demand for the new games consoles has skyrocketed, and many people are willing to pay more than the asking price due to a lack of stock from retailers.

An auction house in Sheffield has said they have been ‘inundated’ with requests for the PS5 console, which was released in November last year.

Retailers have been working hard to restock the highly sought after console, with stock drops happening every few weeks.

However, scalpers have been snapping up the gaming console priced at £449 and reselling it for over half its original value.

Chris said: “The release of the new consoles particularly in the midst of Covid has taken on a completely different guise this time around, as with every release you have people bulk buying all of the consoles that they can to charge a higher price to desperate people. We call these folks scalpers and a few other words besides.

“I get it, supply and demand etc. But we’re in the strangest of times whereby people are trying their best to balance both their dwindling or non-existent incomes (in many cases) and their mental health at the same time as being forced to socially isolate from the world.

“In times like this, videogames are a great interactive portal into another world, just like movies, music, and literature can provide the best of escapes depending on your choice of intake. So, when you see the stories about people running bots to buy up all the available stock, only to flip the console for two or even three times the price, it’s hard not to feel aggrandised, it’s exploitative — which is sadly evident in all walks of life. But that doesn’t make it right or fair.

“However, if this pandemic has taught us anything… it’s that life just doesn’t seem fair for so many right now.”

He says that in a few months these consoles will be ‘available easily’ for the price they should be sold at.

He added: “I’d recommend waiting, as the console you may have now is more than good enough, and it’s not like there’s a dearth of games being released that justifies the latest console with all of the bells and whistles.

“That may seem a bit rich coming from me, but it’s about perspective. Don’t stress yourself out over what is essentially ‘stuff’. It’ll come, don’t give in to the scalpers' demands, and just wait it out, or you’ll encourage them to keep gouging other folks further.”

Editor’s message

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.