The COVID-19 pandemic brought some hard-hitting effects with its social distancing and lockdown protocols, the major one being the loss of human contact. At times like these, socializing has become more necessary than we give it credit. Many people have been far away from their family and friends ever since the pandemic began in 2020, leaving them feeling isolated and without much human interaction.
Since socializing plays a very vital role in the overall well-being of humans as a society, the pandemic has caused an increase in the number of adults and children suffering from depression, anxiety, loneliness, and other emotional dysregulations due to the lack of a support system.
However, damaging the situation may seem, there has been an unusual hero to help people of all ages feel connected again, acting like a lifesaver. Virtual and video games filled the void of the loss of personal interactions very effectively in the given circumstances. By bringing family, friends, and even strangers closer during such trials and tribulations, people could find some comfort in socializing, albeit virtually. This blog is here to talk about how virtual games have been highly beneficial for people during the pandemic, thwarting its maligned image of being unproductive.
Virtual Games, The Alternative to Socializing During a Pandemic
- Socializing Online: Contrary to the old-school opinion of virtual games making players dull, the players showed more significant levels of social awareness during the pandemic even after being locked down and isolated in the confines of their homes. The credit goes to playing with gamers globally, who exchanged news of the latest events happening in their countries and locations, which was a pleasant by-product of their interactions. Gamers playing together online while in isolation could keep in touch with the global events even when the mass media had limited access to unbiased news.
- Video Game Parties Cures Loneliness: We saw several gaming companies and brands host video game parties for all gaming enthusiasts throughout the pandemic since 2020. These parties had a virtual meet and greet, interactions, and live streaming available, which helped all the attendees feel less lonely and more connected together.
- Keeps The Mind Sharp: Strategic video games where teams or partners are required to plot, and brainstorm turned out to be highly useful during the pandemic. Spending too much time in isolation can lead to brain fog, lethargy, lack of creativity and also makes the mindless alert. Addressing all the demerits mentioned above, virtual tactical games helped the players stay sharp and focused, helping them have a positive mindset and boosting their resilience.
- Critical Thinking Skills: Virtual gaming players face complex situations for which they must come up with solutions and make the right decisions. Usually, several alternatives are given to these players, which requires them to make quick choices. This process is known to sharpen their critical thinking skills. A report showed that students dealt with academics better if they played some form of the strategic virtual game during the pandemic.
- Communication Skills: People with social anxiety and weak communication skills were perhaps one of the worst-hit while being cut off from the world. Since their communication skills are primarily dependent upon exposure to different kinds of people they encounter, home isolation puts them at a disadvantage, making their socializing progress take several steps backward. However, virtual games saved them by keeping the momentum of communicating effectively without anxiety by keeping them in touch with their interactive games and forums.
- Builds Bonds Irrespective of Distance: The virtual gaming communities have always been known for their supportiveness towards one another, which was once again proven during the pandemic’s worst phases. Several players turned to each other to host fundraisers, plasma donations, goodwill games, and more events to help despite the distance. During such a trying time, the bonds formed between players are a prime example of the goodness of humanity, where race, gender identity, profession, or religion took the backseat.
- Introduces New Cultures: Online gaming, especially with new players all across the globe, can be very intriguing since it gives people the chance to understand cultural differences and learn different things about their team members’ lives. People tend to show more interest in bonding over cultural similarities and differences, making it a fun place to hang out virtually with zero boredom.
- Emotional Support: Virtual friends can become a support group since they spend so much time together, especially while playing virtual reality games. The factor of anonymity plays a massive role in giving people some reassurance, where they could share their hardships and receive empathy from fellow players. To witness complete strangers, lean on each other because they bonded over a virtual game is beautiful to watch, especially when many of them faced personal losses and needed a stranger to talk to.
- Keeps the Mind Busy: Working from home can get very stressful due to professionals lacking boundaries between official and personal space. Since many countries are still in the restricted social activity zone, there are not many places’ people can go to unwind when the movie theatre, parks, and gaming zones are closed. Video games proved their utility by helping people wind down after busy days working, allowing them some recreational time. In turn, this also kept them productive and active during working hours.
- Something Good to Look Forward to: People with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD did not receive the help they needed or the frequency they needed during the initial lockdown phases. The lockdown also did not help improve their condition, but outlets like playing virtual games with real people helped them fill the void of being lonely, thereby keeping them going.
You may have heard many speak about video games and virtual gaming as unproductive and distracting. Still, it turned out that we all needed a bit of playtime in what could be called the most challenging period for humanity as a whole. Virtual games rose as the unexpected savior of people in isolation, and we, for starters, are glad that it helped us stay sane and afloat.