Video games offer a way to socialize with friends

Video games are being seen in a new light thanks to COVID-19. Only a few months, ago they were seen as bad, or at least something that needed moderation. Thanks to the pandemic; however, video games have a new important role to play in most teenagers’ lives besides basic entertainment: socializing with friends.

The multiplayer game Among Us has skyrocketed in popularity over the course of the pandemic, along with multiplayer horror games like Phasmophobia and In Silence. These games offer teenagers a way to communicate and connect with friends that is otherwise impossible in today’s environment.

“Normally I play Destiny, a looter-shooter game, and Minecraft, a creative survival game,” said junior William Lytle. “They’re both multiplayer games. It’s so much better to play with friends, especially now when it’s my only way to hang with friends.”

Communicating through video games may not be the same as talking face-to-face, but it helps teenagers keep in touch and contact friends that would be too far away for meeting in person.

“I think a combination of in-person and online is perfect,” Lytle said. “Just in-person limits your reach of friends, but just online gets rid of the charm of being with someone in person.”

For teenagers who prefer video games that do not force them to interact with people, the pandemic has given them the opportunity to socialize without stress.

“I play solo most of the time, and I talk over text messages and occasionally voice calls over Discord,” said junior Aidan Young. “I have played a variety of games, but if I had to pick a category, I would say I’ve played indie games the most.”

The more story-driven games, while typically single-player, give people the chance to talk to others about their experiences with the game. Indie games like Celeste and Night In The Woods have more complex plotlines that people can relate to about anxiety, mental health, and life in general.

“Celeste has a very good story about overcoming anxiety and other challenges,” Young said.

The connections made online through video games are just as valid as those made in person and can lead to new friendships, inside jokes, or just a fun time spent with friends.

“So, Gavin Wenzel was streaming Destiny with some of our out of country friends we met online, while others of us on Discord were in a call watching him stream. At one point we started to call out to the people in the stream, just shouting random nonsense to confuse them. But the best part is when I got everyone to start yelling ‘BABA BOOEY’ for like 10 minutes. It’s one of those moments that feels just like an in-person experience, but we did it all online,” Lytle said.