While we are physically isolated from each-other, we are missing the ability to go out and make new experiences with the people we care about as well as spontaneous experiences with people we’ve never seen before.
We are all connected with each-other via the internet, but the internet lacks the richness of experiences that you get in the real world. While this is true to some degree, if you dive into the world of video games, you will quickly realize that it can provide some pretty incredible experiences that make you forget you are at home in your apartment.
When I talk about video games, I am talking about a spectrum from apps like Houseparty, where you can choose from three party games to play with friends all the way to fully immersive massively multiplayer online games.
Instead of trying to explain these games for you, I will talk about some of the experiences I’ve had in them during my quarantine.
We’ll start with a game that is closer to a video chat than a game. The fun part of Houseparty, is that you can see which of your friends are talking to each-other and just jump into their chat. It makes for really fun, spontaneous experiences. Most of my chats on Houseparty have been with people who I might have gotten drinks with after work, or gone to a bar with. Being someone who airs on the side of avoiding social experiences Houseparty is great. What makes it a game? There is a pair of dice at the top right of the chat which acts as a menu for choosing from their short list of party games. These are the same kinds of games you might play if you were loafing around your living room with some friends. If you don’t have this app, I would highly recommend it.
The next game experience is one I have had with coworkers. I am a traveling consultant, and for fun we have something we call a case team event. These events often involve dinner and an activity. Now that we are all working remote, the way we have been doing these events is by ordering pizza and playing something called “jackbox games.” This is a video game with a bunch of party trivia / hanging around games that you control with your phone. It is like house party without video chat, but with much more production value in the party games. This is a great activity to do with friends or family, would highly recommend it.
You might have picked up that we are slowly moving from the casual game party genre, towards games that rely more on the production value of the game and less on the social experience. The next contestant happens to be an open world first person shooter MMO called Destiny 2. You can probably replace it with a bunch of similar games but I will talk about this one. I will also note that it is on Google’s Stadia gaming service and you can now stream it for free if you sign up for a two month trial. Because it is a more serious game, you have to put more effort into recruiting friends to play with you, but trust me it is worth it.
When you put yourself in an open world game, you have the opportunity to leave your apartment and be in the game. When you are playing with friends, it feels like you are there with them fighting side by side on a battlefield. I am actually playing with a couple friends from work today after this blog post, but we would welcome more people in our fire-team.
Finally there is another game that I play which is not multiplayer but has a rich open world experience where you can explore all of Greece in it’s heyday. The name of the game is Assassin’s Creed and it feels like you have transported to another world where you can run and climb freely. You are also immersed in a story that has you personally affecting the outcome of the war between Athens and Sparta.
Now I won’t lie to you and tell you that adding these experiences to your life will replace the ones you are missing. Last night was the first Passover seder and when it came time for the festive meal, I closed zoom on my laptop and ate my burger lightly salted by the tears flowing off of my cheeks. However, the fact that I was able to turn on a video game after diner and escape into another reality did a lot to get me through it.