With most of the world currently social distancing, most of us are going through the motions of home-study or working from home. As we stay indoors for what probably now feels like weeks on end, feelings of loneliness can slowly start to creep in, especially if you are living alone. This new reality provides many unique and unseen challenges, and the disruption of having to be pulled away from the colleagues and school friends that we were used to seeing on a daily basis so abruptly, has left many struggling to adjust and yearning to reconnect.
Social isolation, while on the one hand protecting us from Covid-19, will also come with mental and physical health implications of its own. Studies have shown that loneliness can be physically detrimental to the body, heightening stress levels, and can be just as harmful as obesity or smoking. Many people are, therefore, turning towards various virtual platforms to stay connected such as Skype, Facetime, and other various methods of video chat, alongside video games.
Video games are perfect for lockdown, not only to pass the time but to stay connected. While there is an undeniable element of escaping reality, what was once looked down upon and seen as almost antisocial, has become about connecting with others. If we can’t meet up and socialize together, then we can go to another distant land and meet there instead.
Providing some lost structure, video games can fill the mental, creative, and physical void left from school, college, and work, bringing comfort to all ages. This shows how video games have evolved and transformed into a tool that can help combat loneliness and anxiety during this time of physical distancing and uncertainty.
Contrary to a lot of opinions, they can also provide significant benefits to our emotional health. With mental health becoming an ever more prevalent topic in our society, game developers are now designing games that specifically address this issue and with the sole purpose of boosting emotional health and wellbeing.
Multiplayer video games, in particular, can help ease the isolation that we are all facing, whether that be school children, teenagers, or adults. Their social aspect provides us with an alternative social activity that we can all enjoy at home together while keeping to the safe social distancing measures currently in place.
Here are four of the best multiplayer games to help keep you connected and keep those feelings of loneliness at bay.
A 5v5 multiplayer first-person shooter set in the near-future, Valorant is a Riot Games creation that combines elements of similar games, such as Overwatch and League of Legends. Players assume the roles of agents who either join the attacking team or the defending. The attacking team’s primary goal is to plant and detonate a bomb called the Spike, while the other team defends and tries to prevent this from happening. If the attacking side is successful, then they get a point. Likewise, if the opposing team manages to defuse it successfully, then they get a point. All agents have 30 seconds to buy weapons and abilities using an economic system, including assault rifles, machine guns, and sniper rifles, and each weapon has a recoil pattern which has to be controlled by the player.
Matches are 25 rounds long, with a 100-second timer, and the first team to win 13 rounds wins the overall game. Already immensely popular, Valorant appeals to both top-tier esports pros, as well as more inexperienced game users and players. If you’re only just starting out, use a free mouse sensitivity calc for Valorant to help you succeed in the game from your first play.
One of the most popular games in the world, with over 200 million registered players, Fortnite is as much of a social hangout platform as it is a game. Fast-paced and action-packed, it is an incredibly popular survival game with younger audiences, with its greatest strength being its free-to-play battle royale mode to be the last one standing. Millions of registered users = a lot of potential social interaction, and the combination of two seems to be its most significant source of appeal, with an overwhelming 78.3 million players during its peak.
While not necessarily the most innovative of video games, Fortnite has almost become a substitute for a physical place, where younger users are more concerned with catching up with each other than the game itself – ideal during this period of isolation.
Despite being around for a while, new content is still being introduced to keep the game fresh and updated, and it remains incredibly popular, retaining a large player base to this day. Fortnite is, therefore, the ultimate game to play if you want to bond with a community, increase social connections, and reduce loneliness.
A recent release to try out, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is proving to be the game that we all need right now, having already been embraced by an impressive 11 million users during isolation. Players create and manage their own island village in this calm and low-stress game, that’s perfect for those who are feeling particularly anxious right now.
The game lets friends and families arrange a time to play and ‘meet’ and players can visit their friend’s islands to exchange goods and services, or simply have a look around. Water flowers, plant fruit trees, and catch fish while accumulating a bunch of cute things to decorate your home with. A great option to wind down to and relax at the end of the day, the game has a lot of content to explore and is a great alternative way to stay in touch with friends, making it perfect for lockdown. The game is made for sharing, with its director stating that ‘it’s the kind of game you want to enjoy with other people, talk about, and share the experience with your friends and family.’ One of those timeless games that never really gets old, those that love the Sims and other simulation-management games will be great fans.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
There is a reason why Mario is an absolute classic, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is no exception. Pick your favorite character from the universe and get into the competitive spirit while racing against your friends and families. The new must-have game for Nintendo Switch, players can experience hours of fun with it’s winning and iconic formula that lets you play against up to 11 friends or strangers for the ultimate distraction for life during the lockdown. The game has 48 courses and 42 characters to choose from, alongside several arenas and play modes, including a fully extensive battle mode. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also has auto-steering to help out younger gamers join in on the action, ensuring that nobody is left behind. Thanks to its range of multiplayer functions, you can have up to 4 friends play a split-screen local multiplayer or join in on the fun with up to 8 players with multiple Switch consoles on a local network.