Communities in Croydon are being given a helping hand during one of the toughest periods in living memory through the unlikely source of a video games company based in the area.

Online retailers Go2Games, who are based in the borough and sell games and consoles across multiple platforms, pride themselves on community outreach through redirecting some of their profits and hardware to the people in Croydon who most need a helping hand.

Despite the additional challenges faced by all retailers in recent months, they have ramped up that work since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic.

Go2Games Director Craig Constantinides told the Croydon Guardian his commitment to supporting good causes in the area pre-dated the pandemic and would not be deterred by the virus.

“It’s been reasonably difficult regarding the changes to the rules, working remotely and keeping the operational side of the business going as best we can but we were already community focused.

“We had all sorts of plans to make our mark on Croydon because we are born and bred in the area and lately we’ve been working very hard to continue that development cycle,” he said.

That means putting more effort, time and resources into existing commitments as well as embarking on new ways to help those who need it.

For example, in April last year they deepened their support Legacy Youth Zone centre for children with disabilities with donations of consoles and games, and continue to work with other charities like Crystal Palace FC’s Palace For Life Foundation.

In addition, they collaborate with Croydon College on apprenticeships and since March have run a crowdfunding project dubbed with Croydon Commitment #KeepCroydonConnected that helps buy and donate laptops for hundreds of families in the borough who don’t have access to one.

It is a communitarian mission for Go2Games, but also a personal one for Craig who grew up in the area and whose mum works on the frontlines of the pandemic as an A and E nurse.

“We have an understanding that despite the changes going on in Croydon, community resides within. It means a lot to us, we grew up and went to school here,” he said.

Indeed, as Craig pointed out, video games may receive some negative press but can also have a positive impact.

“We’ve got a good eye on the fact that video games can be very good for people’s mental health by offering escapism,” he said. “The calming influence that certain games like say Zelda on the Nintendo Switch can have are also clear,” he added. “It’s immersive.”

He is not the only person in the industry to come to this conclusion.

In September last year, the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) released a report highlighting the positive impact gaming has had on many people going through lockdown.

According to the ISFE, around 30 per cent of players in the report said video games had “helped them feel happier, less anxious and less isolated” during Covid, with 29 per cent saying gaming had “had a positive impact on their mental health during lockdown, especially those who play multi-player games.”

From the positive impact video games can have in helping us through lockdown to the outreach efforts their popularity can support, Go2Games are developing a model in the industry that has moved beyond money making to stand for something altogether more important.

“A lot of the time it’s not about profit, it’s about sustained growth and hopefully creating some form of legacy,” Craig said.

To donate to the #KeepCroydonConnected fundraiser, click here