WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — When the whole world hit pause, millions of Americans escaped to a new reality online.

Sports management professor Lisa Neirotti says people are picking up a controller at a record rate.

“In this time of isolation, video games are the way that people are building a community,” says Neirotti. “It is already a 35% increase in the size of the people watching, playing, buying equipment.”

The Esports industry has skyrocketed over the last few years with revenue now surpassing $1 billion. The industry attracts more viewers than almost every major sports league — and it has advantages over other professional sports.

And the same goes for collegiate sports.

“The players are still playing when they are home because they can, and so this is something unique and special about Esports,” says Neirotti.

David Willis is the head coach of Esports at St. Edward’s University in Austin. He says 15 students currently compete on the university’s varsity team.

He says the season is still going — because it can. Willis says tournaments have been pushed through June.

Unlike non-virtual games, Esports can continue on.

“The different leagues are playing,” Neirotti says. “Overwatch league is playing. And it is filling the void.”