When you find out you’re pregnant it feels like everything starts to change. For me that change was accelerated – never did I expect the worry-filled experience of navigating my first pregnancy during a global health crisis.
Keeping a pregnancy under wraps is commonplace for working women – it’s surprisingly easy when staying at home. In the beginning, I quietly relished in the sipping of seltzer as friends and coworkers mused over virtual happy hours. However, as the cloud of the pandemic grew darker, so did my mood. Casual catch-ups and social media were becoming listless; the connection they provided just wasn’t doing enough for my social well-being.
Before the world changed, game nights were a pillar of my social calendar. My husband and I share dozens of tabletop board games with multiple expansions, and we love hosting friends. During lockdown, connecting through gaming was something I wanted to continue, but after a few too many nights playing Jackbox Games I needed more variety. We both did.
With the energy of my second trimester, I explored all different kinds of games. I played my first one-shot Dungeons & Dragons adventure through Roll20. I beta tested the new Wavelength app party game. I got a crash course in Categories with Friends. I joined a Knighthood Guild. I celebrated my birthday in Animal Crossing. It was different, but it was fun. Beyond that, gaming gave me space for my imagination and a place to stretch and calm my mind.
Over the moon in anticipation during a virtual baby shower
In my third trimester, my husband and I picked up Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. It was cute, colorful and cooperative. We had so much fun sitting on the couch playing together. I remember this experience fondly – a final youthful, snapshot of the last days as a family of two.
As I approached 40 weeks my body was changing rapidly. I suffered from severe swelling in my hands, legs and feet. I was so uncomfortable. No longer could I lounge lazily on the couch with a full-length movie. Swollen hands reduced my dexterity making it difficult to play games on my phone or Nintendo Switch Lite. I was anxious to meet my baby and I struggled to unwind.
Underneath what appeared to be the normal end of pregnancy discomfort was something more. A swift diagnosis of pre-eclampsia became a blur of tests, labor interventions and postpartum treatments. My healthy baby was doing wonderfully – however, I was not. My recovery was harder than I had anticipated. I was exhausted and my joints, particularly my knuckles, stiffened and ached. Playing video games had helped me get through so much of my pregnancy, and now I found myself unable to find comfort in the thing that had brought me so much joy.
But then things changed, albeit slowly. The tiredness and the aches began to subside, and I was able to play games again. While my newborn slept, I found time to fight my way through the underworld in Hades. Those nights the surprisingly easy feeling of relaxation returned. It made me feel good, boosted my mood and most importantly helped me to unwind.
I know I’m not alone in my passion for gaming as a mom. Last year Activision Blizzard Media conducted a study into gamer moms and found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that most moms are gamers with over two-thirds of moms playing video games on their phone, console or PC. Like me, these moms found comfort in gaming, turning to it when they were looking to relax, boost their mood or as a way to socialize with friends, partners and of course their family.
As a new mom, gaming helped me find space for myself amidst a ton of change. It was my constant, allowing me not only to unwind but to connect with those around me. Gaming is now a part of my life more than ever.
Research Methodology: Activision Blizzard Media, in partnership with independent research agency Alter Agents, conducted a quantitative research study among 25–54-year-old women who have at least one child at home under the age of 18. The online-based study surveyed 4,002 gamer moms and 3,200 non-gamer moms, split equally across the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The methodology, questionnaire and analysis were conducted by Alter Agents.