How Video Games can act as Social Interaction during the COVID-19 Crisis
With many communities requiring social distancing and experiencing stay home orders, so many of us are becoming bored and restless.
Now, more than ever, social interaction is needed. So, how do you encourage your family to engage in social interaction, and establish a community, without ever leaving the four walls of your home? Yep, with video games.
With millions of Americans suddenly stuck inside due to the COVID-19 outbreak, more and more adults and families are turning to past times they just “didn’t have time for” before. While that might mean crafts or gardening or dusting off that weight set in the garage, a lot more of us are turning to something we sought out as kids or didn’t want to justify as adults: video games.
Not only are video games something to fill the days that feel long right now, but video games can also offer a social interaction that you might be missing out on. That daily interaction of school or work and outside activities have been squashed, and we’re seeking out how to fulfill that need for social interaction in different ways.
Improving Mental Health
If you or your kids have found themselves parked behind a computer screen chatting with friends and collaborating with people across the globe, or just your city, your mental health is likely in a better place than those who aren’t seeking out social interaction. Video games can simply help fill that social need that many of us are reaching for. If you’re feeling isolated, you might want to take a tip from your children and spend some time with online video games. Instead of collaborating with a coworker on a work project, you’ll be collaborating with friends to do something fun. It is, after all, a game.
Making New Friends
As an adult, it can be hard to make friends. In the era of school-aged kids, making friends seems rather effortless; there is, after all, an obvious immediate commonality between kids in a classroom. They’re all learning the same thing, and involved in the same activities. As adults, we stumble for similar traits in other people to see if we’d like to form a friendship. With online video games, the conversation is directed for you by the activity being predetermined.
In a study published by Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, the authors note that video games “can grant considerable communicative flexibility, as the shared activity takes the forefront of attention and largely guides the content of the conversation and mediates the pace.” In layman terms: there’s an automatic conversational topic and that’s why it’s so easy to make friends and keep conversation going while playing video games.
Right now, according to the Entertainment Software Association,52% of adult Americans play video games on their personal computer, and of those gamers, 63% are playing with other players, not solo games.
With any type of game that you can imagine already online, you have a plethora of options to choose from. If you would like to encourage your kids to stay away from more “violent” videogames, the most popular online game right now is absolutely Animal Crossing. It’s not just for kids though, so don’t feel like you can’t jump right in as an adult.
If what you’re looking for is to bring people together in a time that feels like that’s impossible, online videogames really can be a life-changer.
The Essentials of PC games
If you’re new to playing games from your PC or haven’t played in a while, what do you need to make sure you’re getting the most out of your gaming time? Let’s start with some of the basics:
A proper chair. Yes, I know you think you can’t injure yourself while sitting. A proper chair with good lumbar support though will make a world of difference when you’re playing. If you don’t want to spend a paycheck worth on a new chair, at least invest in a decent lumbar support pillow. You’re not a kid anymore, sitting on the living room floor with your neck kinked up to look at Mario jumping across the screen. You can have a nice chair and a nice pillow.
Next on the list, if you’re still working with only one monitor, consider upgrading to a dual-monitor system. It makes gameplay more fluid, and a lot easier. You can also keep things up on the other screen unrelated to the online video game, or leave a browser open to google anything that comes up you might want to know about the game. Likewise, invest in a decent wireless mouse and gaming mouse pad; for more info on why you need a gaming mouse pad while playing games, you can check out the article at Tech Cove.
A headset with a microphone will make a huge difference than just using the microphone your computer came with since they tend to produce lower audio quality than one you can purchase with a headset. If you have transitioned to working from home recently, you’re probably aware of how much better headsets are when in a conference call with several other people. If this is new to you, you can check out these reviews of what to consider when making the splurge on a new headset for gaming.
Make sure your video card is up-to-date so that it can process images associated with higher quality newer videogames. If you’re unsure what you’ll need in a PC gaming computer, or if your computer is able to handle the game, you can always check the minimum PC specs associated with the game before purchasing or downloading it. For more on getting started with PC gaming, you may want to check out this handy video that breaks down some of the things you’ll need to consider.
If you’re looking to relieve stress while developing friendships, online games are absolutely a great option right now. Even if you aren’t ready to commit to making it a long-term hobby, playing online video games during this rough time of social distancing can have a huge improvement on your mental health and create lasting friendships.