The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives in many ways, including how we choose to spend our time and deal with unprecedented circumstances. Anecdotal reports suggest that many have turned to playing video games during the pandemic. To better understand how games are being used during the lockdown, we conducted an online survey ( N = 781) that focused on gameplay habits and effects on players’ well-being. We find that time spent playing games has increased for 71% of respondents, while 58% of respondents reported that playing games has impacted their well-being, with the overwhelming majority of responses indicating a positive impact. We identify seven ways that games have affected players, such as providing cognitive stimulation and opportunities to socialise, and a variety of benefits related to mental health, including reduced anxiety and stress. Our findings highlight the sociocultural significance of video games and the potentially positive nature of games’ effects on well-being.
The Scopes trial has long been interpreted through claims about science and religion and about individual rights and liberties. This article recovers a different debate about the trial's political history that emerged in the later 1920s and resonated down the twentieth century. Here the trial figured as a fraught national circus, which raised difficult questions about the relationship between media spectacle and cultural conflict in the United States. The trial's circus dynamics intensified the conflicts it staged without ever actually resolving them; this trap was then perceived and negotiated in different ways by contemporary liberals, conservatives, socialists, and far-right activists.
In response to widescale job losses produced by the COVID‑19 pandemic, states have drastically expanded social protections, primarily through cash transfer programs. Drawing from James Ferguson’s notion of distributional politics, this reflection analyzes the meaning of this rapid global expansion of the welfare state and the political opportunities it provides. Based on two seemingly disparate cases, South Africa and Canada, I suggest that these expansions provide valuable opportunities for rethinking existing approaches to livelihoods, labour and social protection. These interventions also provide political possibilities through which a more radically redistributive politics can be articulated. In both contexts, state responses have provoked new challenges, dialogues, and experiments in distribution at multiple scales, from the neighbourhood to the nation state. This reflection calls for deeper inquiry into the multiple meanings of cash transfers and the political openings they provide. Finally, it provides guiding questions for future anthropological inquiry into livelihoods and social protection.