Normalcy: Events popping and GPU Prices dropping!

By Published On: April 27, 2022Categories: Editorials, Featured
PAX East 2022

The Impact of COVID-19

While we all have our opinion of COVID-19, politicians, vaccines and masks – this is not about that. The past couple of years (and continuing) has been really strange. The pandemic changed lives and impacted people from all angles. We lost friends, family members, businesses and things we could count on in our daily lives. Many of us were stuck in our homes and, at times, afraid to walk out of the door. While these moments were devastating – there are other things that some may consider less important for “real life” yet super important to us in gaming communities that were impacted:

  • We lost gaming partners.
  • We lost gaming companies.
  • We lost hardware accessibility.
  • We had to fear our PC or console breaking do to supply and demand – then out of reach costs. Who can spend 1500 bucks on mid-tier GPU?
  • We lost friends and family.
  • We lost events we grew accustom to looking forward to.
  • We lost control and the ability to treat other humans with respect from time to time.

And that list could go on and on, but that is not what I want to talk about. Let’s talk about the positives and how we are moving forward.

The Quarantine Life of a Gamer

As a gamer, it started as “MORE TIME TO PLAY GAMES! HELL YEAH!”. That got old super fast. I began doing yard work, taking chores off the plate of my wife and watching more movies. Game releases were stagnant. Then, opportunity struck. I started a gaming community in Atlas, a survival game made by the creators of Ark.

Yes, it is a terrible game; however, gaming multiplayer is not about the quality of the game, it is about the fun you have and the people you meet. That is what I did. I met people. People from all over America, Australia, New Zealand, China, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, England, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Thailand, Vietnam, Spain and many other Asian/European countries. This was not my first experience with meeting an online crowd. I was a leader of a WoW guild for many years. I still talk to many of these players and even visit with some from time to time. They are also my family and always will be. That was a different experience. The COVID-19 pandemic was the first time that I intertwined with so many different cultures and primary languages on this scale – all with a world scaled pandemic beating on our doorsteps. My family grew.

We peaked at just over 500 members in the community. With all the chaos in politics, followed by a rampaging pandemic. we were able to figure out how to communicate with different languages in different time zones. Our team was able to coordinate and provide some of the most epic moments us gamers will never forget. This produced lots of memes, goofy moments, serious straight face moments and even great arguments. We met folks that were our “enemy” who were entertaining or interesting. It was an opportunity for us all to grow with cultural outlook and acceptance. The best part is, with 13 primary languages (where I only speak one),  we were able to thrive in our gaming experience. It was fantastic.

During all of this, we as gamers were introduced to new people and new journeys. We saw new entertainers in the streaming world. We established new relationships that will incubate our gaming adventures over the next several years. We couldn’t leave and hit a bar, but we could  pop a beer and play our favorite titles with our online family. Family that many of us gained the desire to want to meet face to face eventually. Family we cared about. Family we talked about the good times and bad.

Why do I call it family? Because that is what it is. It is family. I care about the people from my community and from my gaming experiences. They are, after all, real people. Good people. Excellent people. We spend countless hours with our online friends and, at times, reveal secrets or seek advice. These are things we may not be comfortable doing face to face or with a stranger. We game together. We watch movies together. We offer advice and career connections. We offer support in times of need. We worry when things are off, and we celebrate when things are great. When we need each other, we are there. Hell, some even fall in love. Some became my heroes, my mentors and even changed my life. If that isn’t a definition of a family, well – we can argue it some other time.

For me personally, it opened up many doors. From that build of trust and growth – we merged into another established community: DVS Gaming. Everything I just said? It grew. This is opening up doors for my family. I hope I am opening doors for others as well.

Sharing the Experience

I found ways to share this experience with others around me. Gaming, the pandemic and my online family are only part of my lively puzzle. I now have a wife, and I have kids I didn’t have a decade ago. My friends have kids or are having kids. Children were ripped from their classrooms and forced to stay home. The classroom is a social experience we all likely ignored or took for granted. In my opinion, it is an important experience. The classroom experience teaches you things like:

  • How to interact or coordinate with peers.
  • How to interact with people that are different than you (race, intelligence, personality, gender and even economically).
  • How to speak at proper times.
  • How to dress for moments.
  • How to cope with situations.
  • How to have fun.
  • How to handle differences in opinions.

Again, a list that could go on and on. A lot of us parents were concerned about that, and a few of us came up with a plan. I grabbed a Minecraft server, and we set up a supervised Discord server. We took all of our kids (ranging from age 7 to 13) online. We set some guidelines and let them play, just to let them experience peers and have some interaction with other humans – besides mommy and daddy.

This was a godsend. The kids enjoyed it. They have developed friendships. They look forward to their next adventure in Roblox, Fortnite or Minecraft. If one of them isn’t on during a play session, they ask us parents about them. They care about each other. They love each other. They are family, too.

These experiences allowed them to learn computer and technology skills no longer taught in schools. This allowed them to develop a different form of critical thinking, teamwork and even leadership skills that they are too young to realize. This also gave a platform for some of the youth to overcome shyness. It opened up moments for us as parents to interact and go on virtual adventures with our kids due to their new interests. To me, these are all valuable lessons that gaming can offer, and some people in this world could really use this sort of interaction.

My two daughters (8 and 9) were finally able to return to school. This experience has enabled them to be more outspoken and more driven among their peers. They have very different ideas of what to be when they grow up. Last Christmas, they asked Santa for a proper “gamer setup”. Santa delivered. Yes, Mommy and Daddy monitor screen time for the judgmental ones out there (P.S. mind your own business :)).

Finally, Signs of Normalcy for Gamers.

PAX East 2022: Acer After Party – Steven Blanchard Headshot

Now that I have talked briefly about where some of us were, how are things in 2022? Well, COVID-19 is still very much a thing. We have taken vaccines, conducted studies, changed routines, developed policies and corrupted normal mindsets. Unfortunately, we are still very much battling the pandemic. Personally, I feel that most of us are just fed up and ready to push through and forward – consequences be damned. I know that sounds scary, but it has also felt great.

Recently, there has been a lack of multiplayer options. I have spent more time with my offline family, and I have spent some time face-to-face with my online family. I understand the risks. I need the rewards.

Last week, we were able to attend PAX East 2022 in Boston, MA. – the first in-person gaming event in a long, long time. Every person on that floor had a glowing face. We couldn’t see smiles due to mask mandates that were in place . People were excited to be there. We met tons of great developers, saw lots of upcoming adventures and discovered new hardware to aid us on our way. It felt normal. It felt as it should be. Knowing the risks of COVID-19, it felt great from the opening of PAX through the Acer After Party’s last call for alcohol.

PAX East 2022: Acer After Party

A few of  us from the DVS family attended the Acer after party as VIP attendees. They had great food, great drinks, great music from DJ Frank Walker and an amazing crowd. It was a blast. It felt normal.

This isn’t the only normalcy we are starting to witness in the gaming world. People are travelling. Our family members are returning or have returned to work. Gaming announcements are ramping up for hardware and game releases. Other events are being discussed. Hardware availability is improving. As recent as today, even GPU prices are almost back to normal (See the EVGA FTW3 on NewEgg for $889 – only about 50 bucks higher than day 1 pricing!). I don’t feel like I am living in fear of a component dying and being lost to my online family for weeks or months.

Ultimately, it is just great to have been able to pull positives out of an otherwise gloomy pandemic. It is great to see things returning to normalcy. Life is moving forward again – even for gamers.

Regardless of the normality, I do urge everyone to remember the virus is still a thing. It is still a risk, no matter the journey you seek. Always take the precautions experts are advising and be comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable with some things, that is fine. Remember, it is the same for folks around you. Please allow that space – allow things to meld back together. Look out for your friends and family. Understand the risk is still there and that we as humanity are still coping with it. Look at these signs of normality and acknowledge post-pandemic life is inevitable. Meanwhile, stay safe and be patient. It isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon. There is nothing – not even gaming – more important than your life or your family, regardless of their origin.

Join our family, join our community! You are welcome to hop into our Discord. Let’s kick some ass, build some bases and topple some bosses in whatever game you want! We look forward to seeing you there and look forward to experiencing a post-pandemic world with new journeys and experiences for everyone!

About the Author: DVS Gaming