The pandemic changed what I felt about gaming

Joshua Poh
9 min readSep 19, 2021

I got back into gaming during the pandemic.

Gaming became a means to spend quality time with my wife while sheltering in place under lockdown. We were Mario and Princess Peach in Super Mario 3D World navigating fiery lava pits, rebounding on bouncy castles and running from cute-yet-deadly turtles that shot fire at you.

We laughed, strategised at how to defeat bosses and got frustrated at each other after dying for the umpteen time after a mistimed jump. But we always persevered through.

Super Mario 3D World became a linchpin in our relationship for a good 6 months. It provided conversation topics about the world of game design and our histories with video games

It was that feeling of total immersion — being lost within the vibrant, complex world of Super Mario that comforted us during a stressful time. I marvelled at the game’s uncanny way to explore new wacky level design and mechanics like blocks appearing and disappearing in time to a 80’s themed disco beat, sneaking in the shadows, avoiding a searchlight and staying balanced on a rotating cube in lava pits. We noticed how game designers progressively introduced new puzzles and environments to teach them to the player.

Image from Super Mario 3D World

Thanks to Super Mario 3D World, I got into nerding out about game design and player communities.

But more importantly, it got me thinking about this notion of productivity in my life.

The shift back to gaming marked a transitional point in my life

When I started working on myself years ago, I embraced the hustle and self-improvement lifestyle. Enter marathon running and productivity-related activities. Read from a book every morning! Wake up early and do 10 things before the crack of dawn. Video games? Nah, waste of time and it’ll keep you from living your best life and growing into your career.

Since then, I gave up my gaming life. I wiped my computer clean of all remaining games and wrapped up my controllers, stuffing them deep into a dusty cardboard box, never to…

Joshua Poh

Freelance writer and content marketer for B2B SaaS companies. More at