AUSTIN (KXAN) — With more people staying home and traditional social interactions with others being put on hold, gaming has become a popular pastime.

In fact it has become so popular, the industry is flourishing in the middle of the pandemic.

“We have actually launched a few new titles during the pandemic,” said Finn Staber, CEO of Chicken Waffle, a video game company in Austin. “There is more time for people to play games when they are at home and the gaming industry has boomed from that.”

Staber and his company are currently in the process of launching its newest game, Baby Hands on Oculus Quest, and Staber has even hired a few new employees during the pandemic.

Ben Bays, associate professor of UT’s department of radio, television and film says the stats don’t lie. Many people are using the outlet to socialize with others and take their mind off the stresses of the pandemic, he says.

“The numbers are up from last March 46% in the US,” Bays said.

UT offers students the chance to learn about the industry and take courses.

“I have watched my kids learning in these virtual educational spaces and I can see how it is gamified,” Bays said.

Michael Baker, the interim director of UT’s arts and entertainment technologies program, says there are new opportunities for those looking to enter the industry as well. He says developers are now helping create more than just video games.

“They are now finding traction across more and more industries,” Baker said. “So fields like architecture and automotive design are using gaming technology as part of their design process.”

As the gaming industry grows across the country, Austin is quickly becoming a hotbed of talented content creators.

“I think Austin is quickly becoming the game and creative content capital of the world,” Staber said.