So, It's Been A Year, Huh

Illustration for article titled So, It's Been A Year, Huh
Photo: Olena Yakobchuk, Graphic: Angelica Alzona

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the growing outbreak of covid-19 a pandemic. In the year since, over 120 million people have been infected by the virus worldwide, and 2.5 million people have died because of covid-19. Life has forever been changed. We wear masks. Avoid crowds. Businesses have shut down, and many won’t reopen. And while the vaccine has brought hope to a planet drowning in fear and anxiety, it can’t fix what’s already happened.

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Through all of this, video games still came out, and we still played them. At times, working for a website dedicated to games felt like a blessing. My life would often consist of me playing a new game, writing about it, and then playing another game. It was a nice way to keep my brain distracted and escape from the pandemic. But it was also hard some days to give a shit about gaming. We watched developers struggle, watched readers suffer as they lost their jobs, or worse, family members. And through all of this, I was supposed to care about some new consoles or a Call of Duty update. It wasn’t easy. Nothing in 2020 was easy.

But Kotaku persevered. We wrote about the virus, how it affected us, how it changed the world of gaming, how it shut down conventions, and how it destroyed so many things. While I’m not naïve enough to believe that we made some big difference, I do think that we, in our own little way, helped. Maybe we made you laugh. Maybe we helped you find a game you could escape to. Or maybe we provided someone a way to share their story, to be heard. And while that won’t cure covid-19, it helped. Or at least I hope it did.

With that in mind, let’s take a brief tour of some of the stories and events that shaped this very strange year.

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Photo: GDC

February 2020

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Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

March 2020

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Photo: Brendan Smialowski (Getty Images)
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Photo: Maingear

April 2020

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Photo: Andy Morrison (Detroit News via AP)

May 2020

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Screenshot: YTN NEWS

June 2020

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July 2020

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August 2020

  • Through all of this, we had the slow news drip of next-gen consoles. In late August, Sony wanted to remind everyone that the PS5 was still coming in 2020, despite a global pandemic.
  • We offered a different plan: Delay next-gen machines.
Illustration for article titled So, It's Been A Year, Huh
Illustration: Darick Robertson
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September 2020

  • In early September, covid-19 found its way into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. The remake of the first two classic games in the series contained a level set in a school. But the school was closed because of covid-19.
  • Later in the month, No More Heroes 3 was delayed due to covid-19. It was planned to release in 2020 but slipped into 2021 following “unforeseen delays in development.”
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October 2020

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November 2020

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Illustration for article titled So, It's Been A Year, Huh
Screenshot: Fox News

December 2020

  • In late November, Kotaku’s own Ari Notis caught covid-19. At the start of December, he blogged about having the disease and how he handled it. He played a lot of video games. But it still sucked, and he was lucky enough to overcome the virus without any long-lasting side effects or issues.
  • On December 2, Ubisoft and Massive announced a planned Division 2 in-game event was canceled due to covid-19. Ubisoft called it a “casualty of a tough year.”
  • In mid-December, the U.S. Surgeon General compared developing a covid-19 vaccine to playing games on Xbox. Again, like the White House talking about speedrunning. It’s weird, and I’m still not sure what to think.
  • A few days later, on December 14, GameStop put its workers at risk after receiving a new shipment of next-gen consoles. Folks lined up, during a pandemic, for the still sought-after machines. Making matters worse, GameStop stores were understaffed, and employees were only given 15 mins of prep time.
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January 2021

  • Early this year, Razer announced and showed off a new, fancy mask. Yes, it has RGB lights on it. Welcome to the world of covid-19 nearly a year on.
  • On January 14, Universal Studio Japan delayed the opening of Super Nintendo World again. This was because of a new state of emergency declared in Osaka. Currently, the park is scheduled to open on March 18.
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February 2021

  • The CEO of Ubisoft explained the company was thinking about changing the name of the upcoming spin-off shooter, Rainbow Six: Quarantine. During the investor call where this information was shared, Ubisoft confirmed it still plans to release the game in 2021.
  • Shortly before Valentine’s Day, Square Enix in Japan asked fans not to send them candy. This referred to a long-running tradition, in which some folks send candy to their favorite characters from games like Final Fantasy. However, due to covid-19, Square Enix requested fans skip this year’s candy gifts.
  • On February 9, after skipping in-person tournaments throughout 2020, The Pokémon Company confirmed all 2021 in-person tournaments were canceled, too. Instead, the company plans to focus on digital and online competitions.
  • A Genshin Impact/KFC crossover event was canceled in China due to covid-19 concerns. While the country has all but ended the spread of covid within its borders, it appears the crossover event, which involved large crowds of people, violated some still-active pandemic mandates.
  • According to reports out of Japan, Capcom forced workers to go to the office during a state of emergency earlier this year. It seemed that due to last year’s cyberattack, Capcom wasn’t comfortable allowing employees to work from home. Capcom claims it made efforts to minimize risk and did allow some employees to stay home.
  • On February 25, Bungie announced that the next big Destiny 2 expansion was delayed until 2022. Bungie cited the size of the expansion and the continued issues from working at home as two main reasons for the delay.
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Image: Comic-Con

March 2021

  • To kick off this month, Comic-Con 2021 was canceled. Officially, the show has only been “postponed” until 2022. Which is another way of saying, the 2021 show has been canceled.
  • During a digital live stream event announcing new updates for its games, Paradox Interactive also announced a new...digital live event. This event, PDXCON Remixed, is an online-only version of the annual fan event the publisher hosts every year. It is being held online only out of safety concerns.
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And there we go. 12 months of news. It was mostly bad news. Sadly, though we have hit a big milestone, covid-19 isn’t going away. While countries are rolling out the vaccine quickly, people are still dying all around the world.

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But hopefully, as the vaccine is administered to more people, we will see life start to return to some semblance of normality. I really hope I don’t have to put together another round-up of yet another year of covid-19 coverage in 2021.

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

DISCUSSION

emmjaydee
EmmJayDee

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the daily open thread that Kotaku hosted for the first several months of the pandemic and all the readers that commented there. Honestly, it meant a lot during that period to have a place to vent or to just hear from other people about how they were being affected. It was a small, remote support group and it was wonderful (and still is - I know most of you are still here!). So thanks to all of you for sharing and for showing kindness to me and one another, and to Kotaku for hosting our free daily therapy sessions. The overall effect of the pandemic on my life has been relatively small, but that forum really helped me process and learn about what was going on out there. It really was heartening to see a diverse group coalesce into a community of sorts over those months.