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Zoom meetings are more fun with video game backgrounds

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Why not use a Street Fighter stage, or a landscape from Assassin’s Creed?

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landscape shot of the fictitious New Donk City in Nintendo’s Super Mario Odyssey
New Donk City, from Super Mario Odyssey
Image: Nintendo

Zoom’s daily user base, by some estimates, has more than quadrupled as people worldwide adapt to working and learning together, but alone (with attendant privacy risks, to be sure). It’s no longer just the thing your boss has you dial into once a month; personal and less formal uses have helped make it a mainstream social networking tool.

So, if this is where we’re spending so much of our time talking to one another, why not bling it up a little? Some video game publishers have gotten in on this fad this week, so you can broadcast live from Final Fantasy 7’s Midgar, a Street Fighter stage, or the Skyrim city of Solitude, no green-screen necessary.

Here’s Bethesda Softworks’ official Zoom backgrounds, for The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, Fallout 76, and Doom Eternal.

Capcom this afternoon offered eight stages, four from Street Fighter 2 and four from Street Fighter 5.

Let’s not overlook Final Fantasy 7 Remake (launching tomorrow). Square Enix got the background trend for video games started last week.

Ubisoft has landscapes from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Far Cry 5, and the Rabbids franchise:

NintendoSoup pulled together a large anthology of Japanese publishers offering virtual backgrounds, including Sega:

SNK:

And Nintendo’s official Super Mario Odyssey Twitter account:

Update: Annapurna Interactive just reached out to share four backgrounds from their library: Donut County, The Outer Wilds, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Sayanora Wild Hearts. And below that gallery, Double Fine Productions has info on its Psychonauts 2 and Rad backgrounds:

Update, April 10: And Monomi Park reached out to say they’ve got some Slime Rancher backdrops for their Zoomin’ fans, too.

These are just a sampling, and limited to video games; any Twitter or Google search for “video conference” or “zoom” and “background” is going to turn up all sorts of pop culture wallpapers.

If you’re new to Zoom, or unsure how to change the background, it’s as simple as selecting an image off your desktop for some other social media tool. Go to the preferences/settings pane, and you’ll see a virtual background option at left. Here I am discovering it for the first time.

screen showing Zoom’s virtual background option Image: Owen S. Good/Polygon

Click that plus icon below the bottom right corner of the preview window. Zoom will then ask you to upload an image, and you’re all set. Voila, here I am in the Batcave:

image showing a zoom user wearing a batman mask in front of a batcave virtual background Image: Owen S. Good/Polygon

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