Playing Through the Pandemic: Gaming Usage as a Buffer During COVID-19

Dmitri Williams, Mingxuan Liu, Sukyoung Choi, Nicholas Bowman, Sonia Jawaid Shaikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amidst the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, video games were used heavily, presumably to help cope with negative moods and social isolation. This study sought to understand the implications of such play on well-being within a particular sample. Drawing on uses and gratifications and self-determination theories, the study adopted a longitudinal perspective incorporating data from one game, both before and during the pandemic. Data included both repeated cross-sectional surveys as well as unobtrusive, within-game measures. Among players of a marginally social, large-scale, team-based vehicle combat game (World of Tanks), play time increased slightly while well-being was generally steady. Increases in play were associated with increases in competence, which in turn lead to higher well-being. The theoretical implications and generalizability of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGames and Culture
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • covid-19
  • design
  • longitudinal
  • relatedness
  • uses and gratifications
  • video games
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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