Super Nintendo: how video games are bringing people together during lockdown

A Welsh gaming group has been helping people to gather virtually when socializing is impossible. How do video games connect people who share the same interest together during the lockdown?

The first New Year’s Eve in lockdown. Although people can’t go out with their friends, they can still listen to the New Year bells in the game and welcome the new year together.

As part of a friend group, Stephanie Railton first heard about Nintendo South Wales (NSW) because of the Pokémon tournament that was being held there. At that time NSW was still being called Nintendo Swansea, it was changed to its current name until four years ago.

NSW is an Independent Community of Nintendo fans founded in 2014. Every month Paul Russell, the Event Organizer of NSW, will post free, local Nintendo events in the South Wales area on their Facebook Group. Anyone who has an interest can join. Until now, there are 972 group members in this fan group. 

In Splatoon, a third-person shooter video game, two four-player teams have three minutes to cover the most turf with their color of ink.

At first, Stephanie was quite shy and was hesitant to join it. Other members of the friend group she belonged to helped her to make this decision. “They told me it was a lot of fun and very friendly so I decided to join as well,” said Stephanie.

However, because of a nasty time with one of her friends who was also a member of NSW, Stephaniedecided to leave for a while. She said: “It rejoined when all of NSW became supporting And I’ve been a member ever since.”

The feeling that being able to get together with people who are into the same games, being able to try new games that she may not have had the chance to otherwise, makes her feel like she belongs to a group of very lovely people who have helped her out of one of her darkest points in life.

Ever since Stephanie joined NSW, she has been to many events, though she did miss a few after having her baby in 2019. The one that sticks with her vividly was one of the first ones she joined, during a Pokemon X and Y tournament. In that event, she came 4th and won a small prize. 

“I was very shy, no confidence in my abilities aside from my small group of friends – so this felt massive to me,” said she. “Everyone was so congratulatory and I felt so welcomed. So, it stuck with me as a very happy memory of stepping out of my comfort zone.”

European market research firm GfK has said that both Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo had a significant increase in sales after the UK introduced social isolation measures. (Courtesy of JESHOOTS.COM from Unsplash)

Christopher Dring, the head of, said on Twitter: “In the UK last year if you add every PS5 sold to every PS4 sold to every Xbox Series sold to every Xbox One sold… you get pretty much how much Nintendo Switch sold.” Furthermore, other game consoles, like PlayStation 4, also sold very well last year in the UK.

The last time Nintendo sold the most was around 2013. At that time, Nintendo 3DS was the No.1 console in the UK.

During the lockdown and pandemic, NSW has been adaptive and has held many online events. Sometimes, they even just watch game related movies together to have some fun.

“I think playing online together has really helped a lot of introverted people like myself,” said Stephanie. “It’s not quite the same as having them sitting next to you, but it’s the best we have in today’s circumstances. It certainly has helped me feel less lonely and detached from my friends.”

Because her two-year-old son is in need of her care, she has not been able to attend many NSW events, but she did have some online games with her friends, even friends in America, outside of those events which mainly in Animal Crossing since she felt more personal. “I’ve gotten closer thanks to that game,” she said.

Animal Crossing is a social simulation video game series developed and published by Nintendo. In this game, players can create their own virtual island without worry and pressure, where people can live a life quite different from our current circumstances.

The figures collected by showed that Animal Crossing is the second best-selling video game of 2020 in the UK (boxed only). It has been nominated a massive six times for this year’s upcoming British Academy Game Awards. It is up for the Family, Best Game, Game Beyond Entertainment, Game Design, Multiplayer, and the prestigious EE Game of the Year award.

According to, 260k physical games were sold in the first week of January 2021 which up by a third of last year in the UK. (Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash)

Nintendo South Wales also holds many activities in Animal Crossing during the lockdown. This community is even going as far as to make a document so their members can all keep track of what the members need so others can help. 

Recently, Stephanie also spent a few nights playing Among Us, an online multiplayer social deduction game, with NSW members which made her feel the hours really rush by and make otherwise lonely evenings a lot less stressful.

“It just feels like a community even though we’re all apart,” said Stephanie .