Gaming during isolation and lockdown

Insights Gaming during isolation and lockdown

So with the world recently coming out of lockdown and some normality returning to the world, I thought I would take some time to reflect on how gaming enabled me to keep what little sanity I had left during the isolation.

So when it all kicked off and the stress of impending doom settled in. I turned to my go-to release from reality, gaming. With the current rising Covid numbers I thought just in case the government decides to put us back into lockdown, I wanted to share how I handled the situation with gaming and how it helped during the isolation. With the addition of new variants seeming all over the place, I wouldn’t be surprised if another lockdown is coming.

So what benefits did gaming give me during the isolation period?
Well, the most obvious one was communication with the outside world. Being that my friend group is spread across the country our main method and socialising was and still is through gaming. Sometimes we don’t even need to be playing the same game. We would just jump on a voice call on Discord or Playstation Party chat and catch up. This happens 3+ times a week and is be great for filling that social hole the isolation left in our lives.
The difference was that as the whole world was in isolation so the gaming frequency increased to 5+ times a week as we had more time.

Another benefit is the amount of stress relief that gaming can bring especially if you are playing a super satisfying game. For example, sniping in Battlefield 1 (BF1) was and still is incredibly satisfying. Hearing the PING as you land a headshot from across the map will give you chills every time.
If you haven’t tried it, trust me it is worth it. With the base skill of First Person Shooter (FPS) players rising over the years the games have become incredibly competitive, so when you do land a tricky cross-map shot the endorphins just start flowing.

I also found during the isolation having that escape from reality, whether it is climbing a giant mechanical dinosaur in Horizon Zero Dawn or mowing down zombies with friends. Having that few hours of shutting out the terrifying world does give you a sense of bliss. It’s no wonder people get so hooked on gaming when the world is terrible and terrifying who wouldn’t want to lose themselves in a good game?

So what games are good to play during a lockdown? What games did I play?
I mean I play a LOT of games but my 4 standouts for 2020 are Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Minecraft, Two Point Hospital and XCOM: Chimera Squad. Let me tell you why.

Call Of Duty (COD) Modern Warfare and its spin-off battle royale mode Warzone was a big hit in 2020. I hadn’t played a COD game since the original Modern Warfare games were released but the thought of them going back to that franchise got me and my friends pumped and the gameplay loop with friends was very satisfying. It gave us a social game we could all play, chat and have fun with. The gameplay was satisfying and very stress relieving. It was the BF1 headshot endorphin rush all over again. I also like FPS games for the teamwork, strategy and hand-eye coordination skills you need to play them. They are all skills that transfer well to real life.

Minecraft, oh Minecraft. You may joke that a man in his late 20s is playing Minecraft but having that space to let your creativity flow is so much fun. After all, isn't being creative what gaming is all about? Lots of people during the isolation took up old creative hobbies or even gained some new ones. Minecraft is an extension of that creativity. The best thing about Minecraft is it is what our friend group call a “chill” game. There’s no real danger, no drama, it's just you some blocks and your imagination with the occasional jumpscare from a creeper.

Two Point Hospital (TPH) on the other hand does have its stressors but not in a bad way. You see TPH is a remake of the Theme Hospital and one of gaming's most iconic simulators. In TPH player builds and runs a hospital where the patients have fake and hilarious illnesses. For example, the “Mock Star” illness in TPH makes the patient dress and walk like a knock off Freddie Mercury, yellow jacket, moustache and all. The great thing about this game is its whimsy and just sheer bizarreness. Being a strategy game hidden behind the whimsy it’s great for critical thinking and management skills.

Last but not least XCOM: Chimera Squad. Chimaera Squad is the most recent addition to the XCOM franchise and sees you manage a team of humans, aliens and mechs as an elite police force. It’s a turn-based strategy game where the aim is to take out or subdue enemies that threaten the co-existence of aliens and humans. There is a lot behind the XCOM lore so I won’t go into it here but it is worth having a read. Chimaera Squad being a predominantly single-player game fulfils the need to escape reality during the isolation and gives you a few hours to lose yourself in its vast world. Not only that it is an incredibly strategic game so alongside losing yourself you might find you pick up some more management and strategy skills.

So those are my top picks for games to play during isolation. You might have noticed a theme in my descriptions. In all of the above games, there is either a social, mental or professional skill that can be improved simply by playing the game. From my experience, I feel that this is something greatly overlooked and when people hear that I play games they think I’m just sitting in my pants, wasting my time.

Well, I might be sitting in my pants but I am definitely not wasting my time. To me time wasted is time you regret spending. I have been gaming for years, I have met lifelong friends, laughed till I’ve cried, improved my critical thinking, strategy, management and hand-eye coordination skills all through gaming. I maintain my mental health, indulge my imagination and let my creativity flow all through gaming. There are no regrets here you can be sure of that.

So if another lockdown and isolation wave does hit us and you miss your friends and family. Pick up a social game, play laugh and have fun and if no one wants to play, DM me and I will join for a few rounds.
Isolation has taken a lot away from us but it doesn't have to be the end of our mental health.

That's it for this week. I hope you have a positive and productive week.
Cya next week.


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