There is a huge amount of qualitative data. Many of you wrote detailed notes and explanations on how COVID has impacted your game. COVID-19's impact on gaming is closely related to online play, which makes a player's experience during the pandemic depend on the player’s technology preferences and adaptability.
There are many contradictory statements when it comes to analyzing the impact of the pandemic on TTRPG. The results are very mixed.
There are many positive responses where players found ways to play again after not being able to do so:
"It motivated me to pick up a game after just watching from the sidelines for a long time"
"As several of us have little babies at home, now we are able to find the time to playing more easily than before. Also, people that are living further away or are traveling for work were unable to play with us often, which is now not an issue. So we can play with people that were unavailable before."
Many in-person games stopped playing temporarily or permanently.
"Most of my games have just moved to an online setup. However, games that started as in person did not transition well and usually stopped entirely. Games that started online are doing incredibly well"
People who are not essential workers got more time to play more frequently.
"Most of us had more free time so we were able to start up a second weekly campaign"
People who are or had group members who are essential workers got less time to play so they played less frequently.
"I have been working through the pandemic, so I don’t necessarily have more time to play."
"less playtime due to my friend being in essential services."
Some people found the benefits of online games, but many also seen lots of frustration with technical challenges, internet connection, or lack of flexibility.
"My DM has moved everything online, so we have more visuals and it is easier to run around the battle map."
"It has allowed for cool things we didn't do before: background music, private rolls only the player and dm know about, etc."
"Zoom has been working great, both for the kids' camps and playing with friends. I do all my running through Roll20 with the kids (so I can see their rolls, the cheating devils) and to set up battle maps and encounters. It works REALLY well"
"My preparation changed with detailed maps and it is way harder to be flexible with pcs destabilizing your plot."
"Playing online makes it much harder to engage in the natural flow of conversation. I've found that I'm much less invested in the session"
"Roleplay got harder because many social cues can't be conveyed in as much detail and variance as was possible in person. But combat improved significantly with the use of combat enhancing tools."
We found an increase in number of game masters. More players are picking up the game master roles during the pandemic. The biggest change is a shift to online play. In our next update, we will cover the ways players visualize their games.