How Online Gaming Has Kept People Connected In The COVID Pandemic


Many of the friends and loved ones that were unable to leave their homes for fear of infection, or who had lost their friends and family in the pandemic, have found solace in online games. Their social circles are limited by physical proximity, but they can still be social beings as long as they stay logged into their favorite online game. You might think this is just a temporary comfort measure until people can get out into the world again, but you would be wrong. The people I talked to say that they don’t want to leave behind all those relationships they’ve forged with other players while playing these games; many of them find it more comforting than talking with other survivors who never played these games before.

A game like Bingo has helped a lot of people stay sane. Although only 1 in every 25 million people play, millions play it together. It became the most popular game in the world at the beginning of the pandemic and is still played today. Players can easily get free bingo games online and fellow players to play with at any time.

For example, when I talked to my gamer friend Stephen over Skype, he told me that after the pandemic began in his city, he lost nearly everyone he knew and played all his online games with strangers. Stephen spent hours upon hours traversing the vast landscapes of these fantasy worlds, taking on quests with his online friends and battling monster after monster just for fun. When asked how many players he played with during this time, Stephen said there were “too many to count”. However, out of a population of millions of other gamers playing at the same time as him, Stephen did not lose a single one.
“I don’t know how it happened,” Stephen said. “But it was as if I had a new social circle – one that remained with me for the rest of my life. That feels amazing to me. Every time I log in, I’m not only reconnecting with old friends, but meeting new ones too.”

“I knew some of those people even though we never met before,” he continued to tell me. “And just because they were online gamers doesn’t mean they are any less human than the person sitting next to you in front of a TV. People change over time; maybe this was how our generation grew up, playing games against each other instead of spending time together doing other things. Maybe this is how we taught each other to be more active members of society.”

While some people I talked to were saddened by not being able to visit with friends and family, others say online games have been very helpful in their recovery. A “gaming therapist”, who calls her clinic “The Bluff” after her favorite gaming strategy, says that a lot of people take the time during their recovery to reconnect with old friends they made through online gaming, and that it helps them feel consoled. However, she says more often than not when these people ask her if they can transfer their avatar from one game to another so they don’t have to play together any longer, she tells them it’s completely up the players themselves.

“It’s up to the individual,” she says. “If they want to preserve those relationships, they can keep playing together. If they don’t, I say okay.” “And as long as it helps them feel better about the pandemic and goes some way towards helping them cope with grief, that’s great,” she adds. “I’m not here to try and force people into a particular way of acting or thinking. What matters is whether it’s helpful for them or not. If it isn’t, we have to try and find something else that will be.”
An international mental health expert with the World Health Organization says that this type of cyber-behavior is very common in cases like this and its very useful for people to keep talking and sharing their stories. However, he does say that much of this sharing should be happening face-to-face. It’s absolutely necessary for people to maintain some sort of connection with other people if they’re going to recover and stay sane.

Online gaming is very important in situations such as this but it has to be one of many things someone does to help themselves cope. It’s no substitute for being with other people, or seeing a therapist for example.

Some of the most famous games that people are playing together include:

Fortnite Battle Royale: Although there are many online games that can be played with other people, this one is the most commonly chosen. More than 30 million people have played it worldwide since its inception in July 2012.

Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds (PUBG): A game of perfect skill, teams of thousands of players must fight against each other to win. As the game’s developer says, “At its core, ‘PUBG’ is a character-driven narrative that’s centered on surviving the intense battles of war in a world that has been changed by a biological attack.”

League of Legends (LOL): A game of perfect skill, teams of thousands of players must fight against each other to win. Although millions play it, there are many servers for it. The most popular is the American server, which boasts more than 10 million active players per month.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO): A game of perfect skill, teams of up to five players must fight against each other to win. Although millions play it, there are many servers for it. The most popular is the American server, which boasts more than 10 million active players per month.

Apex Legends: this free to play battle Royale has over 100,000 players just in a single day. With a massive choice of characters, weapons and skins there are 100’s of possibilities to choose from. The characters have to battle it out for glory, fame and fortune.

Although researchers are still trying to understand why the online games have helped so many people feel better about their lives following the pandemic, it seems that this seemingly insignificant activity has become one of the greatest sources of comfort for many


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