Connecting through Gaming in COVID-19

May 15, 2020
Rachel Ellison

In social distancing, many apps and sites have become increasingly popular ways to connect with loved ones, take our minds off restrictions and have a bit of fun at the same time.

At Datisan, we have a variety of gamer types within our ranks, from those that don’t have a gaming system in their house, casual gamers to those that build their own. We thought we’d share our list of ways we have connected through gaming as an example of our way to retain social connection with you.

Headspace.org.au says “Games are an integral part of human behaviour. Its is normal and healthy…to engage in play as part of their daily lives, including playing games online.” “At healthy levels, gaming can increase self-esteem and social acceptance.”

But first, what does the data say?

Steam, the main digital storefront for personal computer video games saw over 23 million concurrent players during March 2020, surpassing all previous records.

Twitch saw over three billion hours of content watched over the first quarter in 2020 (a 20% increase year on year).

Microsoft reported a substantial increase in users of its Xbox Game Pass service in the months of March and April 2020 bringing it to over 10 million subscribers.

Millions of people are searching for social distancing-friendly activities to stay entertained during home quarantines. There is a campaign dubbed #PlayApartTogether, where 18 video game companies including Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Zynga and Activision Blizzard are banding together to encourage players to resort to video games as a means to maintain physical distance and is being encouraged by the World Health Organisation.

“It’s never been more critical to ensure people stay safely connected to one another. Games are the perfect platform because they connect people through the lens of joy, purpose and meaning.” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick

So with that in mind, here are some tips on how to set up a games night without going to one another’s houses.

Find a Game

Think about how many people you want to play with and the type of games that you think they would enjoy. Some examples from the Datisan crew include:

If you’re into trivia and don’t mind building out your own quizzes, Datisan has tried the free versions of Kahoot, Crowdpurr and QuizUp as platforms on desktop and mobile and really enjoyed them. If you need help with quiz questions, try Random Trivia Generator

Other games or platforms that are generally paid subscriptions have also offered free access during this time, like:

Life, The Game – because we need to see social distancing in a game

Something a little different is this free escape room experience online.

If you don’t mind splurging and paying for content, some great games we’ve tried includeJackbox Games which is a set of games that can be played remotely via many different platforms.

Choose a video hangout platform

It depends what is the easiest to access for your family or friends. Our team have used Google Meet, the new Facebook Messenger Rooms, HouseParty. Skype, Face Time, WhatsApp and Jitsi are other options we’re aware of.

Be aware that there are some reports on privacy breaches on these platforms in recent months, so use something you’re comfortable with.

HouseParty also has built in games within its platform to use with friends, like Heads Up, Trivia: Finish the Song Lyric, Quick Draw, Chips and Guac.

Set up screen arrangements

In order to set up the call so that you can see your friends and the board at the same time, consider the rules and views of the game. If everyone sees the same information at the same time, then one person can share their screen on the call so everyone sees the same “board”.

However, many games require that different players see different information. Playing poker, for example, everyone has a view of their own cards. Many online games allow each user to join a particular room with a code — you can join on your phone if you want to keep your laptop screen full of friends.

Otherwise, set up your browser in one window and the video call in a second window placed side-by-side.

You may want to do a test round for the game that you are playing to make sure the setup makes sense.

Manage your game

If it was your invite to get everyone together, treat it like you would a normal party at your house. Give the group a specific time to attend and leave some time for everyone to settle in and connect at the beginning of the call. Even if everyone’s names are on the screen, make introductions so everyone feels more comfortable with each other, particularly if there are people on the call who don’t know each other. Show something from their house, a pet, tell a story…make sure everyone gets a change to speak before the main activity starts.

We could go on and share many more ideas and ways to game and connect…let us know if there are other games that you have loved during this time that should have made our list.

While we’re keeping socially distant, technology is allowing us to keep connected. Each week we’re hosting Friday Virtual Beers on Google Hangouts, with a new theme for every catch up.

If you’re keen to get involved or have any questions about how we might help your business hit us up by emailing us here.