How Video games can help us deal with social distancing.

Is it a good idea to spend hours in front of video games? Should we avoid them during these times of lockdown? This article will try to convince you that video games can be a huge help if you have some knowledge about what you like and what are the actual possibilities within the gaming universe. 

During the last months and for the ones to come, the time everyone spends at home, the youth and teenagers most of all, has increased dramatically. Families are running out of activities to present to their kids in order to get them away from social media or simply to keep them occupied, in this scenario video games are part of the solution, not the problem.

The mainstream mentality about video games is perfectly synthesized by the twit of Carlo Calenda, one of the main figures of the current Italian political scenario, from November 2018:

“Video games are one of the causes kids nowadays can’t read, play normally or develop logical reasoning.”

These are the words that are born out of the lack of knowledge about the world of electronic games. The most recent psychiatric and psychological research studies show that the issue is much more complicated than defining if video games, in general, are good or bad.  There is still some controversy but surely, there is no scientific evidence of indiscriminate damage caused by video games to young minds, it depends on what you’re playing and how much time you spend playing it.

Nowadays the common knowledge is that games are bad and they should be avoided, it is a closure to an art world which is fervid and in constant growth, a good game has the same value of a good book and electronic games might represent a good way to make great formative experiences for younger kids unwilling to read the old classics because they are, by the same common knowledge which condemns video games, boring.

Even with the scientific uncertainty about some possible backlashes of gaming, in the current state of things, most studies of the lockdown habits show that video games are helping people to go through these hard times, either thanks to living a parallel and more relaxing life with Animal Crossing or other life simulators or through living an adventure through Role Play Games (RPGs).

Scientific data aside, I will now proceed into giving my personal advice, in fact, the games I’m about to present you are personal favourites, not the absolute best.

The question you should pose yourself first of all is simply what do you like reading, watching, or listening to and see what matches in the universe of video games. What I will proceed in doing is giving you a brief list of single-player and multiplayer games, but again, the ultimate choice is yours.

If you prefer dark fantasy atmosphere deeply philosophical messages and feel ready to take on a challenge, games like the “Dark Souls” saga are what you need, the first one of the saga, in particular, is a deeply philosophical game with an astonishing cure for details, the only obstacle to beginners is the tough gameplay.

If you’re passionate about fantasy scenery and maybe you liked the Netflix series “The Witcher” the game “Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt” is what you’re searching for.

The mentioned above are highly violent games, where fighting and bloodshed are the backbones of the gameplay, but there are games like “Shadow of The Colossus” and “The Last Guardian” which offer beautiful stories with very artistically designed backgrounds without requiring too much bloodshed.

These were all single-player fantasy RPGs, which are my favourite category, but there is a world of multiplayer and many other single-player games for every taste. 

Besides the most known multiplayer titles (Fortnite or FIFA)which I will give for granted, I will propose you two examples of less known multiplayer games to try during the lockdown, one is the horror game “Dead by Daylight”, another is the multiplayer “Castle Crasher” which is for groups of friends which intend to have fun without committing too much to the game.

Now, all these games require you to spend money (even if none of the above mentioned currently costs more than 30 euros) and in a period of crisis it is clear that not everyone is willing or able to spend money on hobbies. My opinion is that not playing video games will soon be regarded as a serious lack of personal education equal to not reading books at all,  but still, video games are much more expensive than books. 

That is why I would advise you to browse online platforms like Steam and Epic Games for PC users, or the respective online stores for the consoles like Xbox or PlayStation, where many discounts and free games are put at the disposal of everyone both for multiplayer and single-player modalities.  

Thanks to social distancing and the amount of time spent at home in the last months, probably, most people reading this article have already begun playing video games and know how much they can be helpful in restoring friendships or building new ones. Some games, mainly the RPG ones, have an artistic direction and a philosophical thought behind their construction, but it must be kept in mind that video games are a particularly intense activity. 

In fact, this article does not intend to push you into spending six hours a day into some competitive online games, actually, what it hopes to achieve is to inspire you to play with the awareness of what you’re playing and why, so to avoid time-eating games which are very diffuse at the moment and pose a serious threat for mental health, this article hopes to inspire you to finally take video games seriously, knowing that as Calvin from the comics of Bill Watterson said: “Having fun is hard work”.

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