Video games unite us, bring comfort during difficult times

This story was originally published in the sixth edition of The Lion’s Tale (May 5, 2021).

The Covid-19 pandemic is one which has caused undoubtable dismay in both our lives and the lives of others surrounding ourselves. In many ways, it has forced us to completely alter our day-to-day routines to better adapt to these sorrowful times, in hopes of preventing further spread of this deadly virus. As a result, the very presence of said virus has had a major psychological impact, causing people to lose a sense of safety, predictability, control, freedom and security.

But with the arrival of a vaccine, this allows time to reflect upon at least one of the things that made our lives a bit easier, gave us a little distraction from the chaos and welcomed us with warm embrace. What I am talking about is the subject of much praise and ridicule alike, video games!

After originating in the 1970s, video games became a worldwide phenomena around 1989 and ever since have been a ceaseless presence in internet and pop culture alike. From the Mortal Kombat franchise to the godfather of video games- Mario Bros- this form of entertainment has made a place in almost all of our everyday lives in one way or another, ranging from inspiring playful derision or high-praise to a never ending grind to improve a skill cap.

As people strive to socialize and relieve stress during a time which they should otherwise be separated, gaming- more specifically online gaming has seen an astronomical rise in use. This is especially noticeable in titles such as Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, Minecraft and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. With such a spike in popularity, one still expected to increase, it has become clear that gaming is no longer just a means of short-term entertainment.

Players can also have social interaction with other players online, which is one of the most attractive parts of the game. Games allow us human beings to temporarily escape from the cruelty of reality. They are a remedy against boredom, sorrow and isolation alike. They represent the perfect platform to keep social interaction with others and combat the loneliness which plagues us all, all the whilst possibly having the company of another within earshot.

One of the ways video games helped with the quarantine is by helping bring the families closer. In today’s digital age, it is not uncommon for a family of individuals to be occupied with their device of choice and generally grow taciturn over time because of work, school, entertainment, hobbies and so on.

A small but vocal minority may prefer to play casual games like cards, puzzles or board games. The majority especially nowadays would most likely find such activities to be underwhelming. Fortunately with the diverse array of video games from numerous companies, genres and platforms it ensures there is a game for everyone, at any time, for any player base, in whatever mood you’re feeling. Such an assortment of entertainment is bound to bring a family together, whether by Couch Co-Op or distanced Multiplayer during Game Night and similar activities or just casually after a hard day.

Video games have also allowed us to make new friends and ignite rivalries. With the rise in success of online gaming, it is becoming more and more frequent for games to have an online setting available or at the very least, multiplayer. These modes allow us to access others in the real world to socialize over the common interest in a game in a casual or competitive setting. Not only does engaging with an opponent help to sharpen one’s gaming skill, like in sports, it also assists in establishing long-term relationships.

Take Animal Crossing: New Horizon for instance, a game in which if you desire, you can play solo or invite some friends to chat, trade items and visit each other’s islands. Perhaps Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is more your speed. This game is a first-person shooter which implements elements of war while providing multiple game modes for numerous players around the world, all competing to test their skill and collect some salt. The very concept of interaction through video games is a thoughtful way to make memories and have some laughs during the time we cannot in person.

In conclusion, video games can easily assist us in finding calm and peace and escaping from the suffering of reality. They alleviate psychological anxiety and depression, whilst providing a relaxing and fun way to socially interact with old friends or make new friends and stay connected with loved ones. The pandemic has only made obvious this characteristic of video games, which has really been there all along.