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Escaping Dystopia with Video Games

Transitioning to Remote

I started working from home, like many others, in March 2020. Confined in my apartment, I do not have a chance to socialize or go out as much. There’s pressure to sustain the developed quality of work from my workplace to my makeshift home office in this quick transition.

It’s hard to do. More external pressures introduced themselves to me. “Do I have enough masks? When can I visit my friends? Am I doing everything in my power to keep my loved ones and me safe?”

Working from home sounds like a nice setup, but the pandemic starts to eat at me mentally over time. I live alone. I had to find new ways to socialize and escape the current reality.

Games Uplift Me

Video games and my online community provide me stability. Call of Duty Modern Warfare wasn’t in my game library until a few friends from high school recommended that I download it. I play with them on the weekends now.

I am no good at the game, but the squad doesn’t care (well, not that much). Modern Warfare gives me the chance to meet, catch up, and pass the time with others while I’m stuck inside. Playing a game makes me happy because it allows me to socialize with others.

We start to share life updates during the “Loading” screen, and then those conversations blend into our gameplay. They ask, “Anyone need this weapon?” and continue talking about that new recipe they concocted. I enjoy feeding my social bug through video games.

There are some games that I’m good at that I play by myself. But that happiness does not equate to how I feel with my friends online. There is a greater sense of accomplishment when I work together with other real people on the other end of the mic. I’m also learning from them.

My online community invites me to play different games now. I am playing a variety of genres. I’ve gone from a sole participant in sports games like Madden to dabbling in action-adventure games like Last Of Us Part II, role-playing games (RPGs) like Persona 5 The Royal, and contemporary platformers like Afterparty.

On top of hanging out with friends, they show me a side of the gaming industry that I never thought I’d enjoy playing. These weekend interactions are a bright spot in my life as I continue to work from home during a pandemic.

I cope with the stress of living alone, socialize with friends who are just as passionate about my hobby, and compete to win with the backing of a team. Video games help me escape my reality which feels dystopian.

Gaming is a lot like playing sports. You don’t learn and become a better player by focusing on yourself. You become part of a team, learn from each other, and battle to achieve a common goal.

Now I can't go outside and play sports in my neighborhood, let alone with strangers. I'll be concerned about my health and potentially infecting my loved ones. The activity that's supposed to relieve stress will add more mental strain. For me, it's safer and more relaxing to stay home and play video games. The online community provides the same social, competitive environment just through a different medium.

Games Making an Impact

In my opinion, video games are the optimal learning tools and one of the best ways to engage the younger generations. People raised on smartphones, tablets and computers are accustomed to looking at a screen to problem solve.

Millennials and Gen Z have fun learning subjects without the pressure generated in the classrooms. Therefore teaching through this video game medium can invite students to soak up the content efficiently.

An educator in South Dakota creates a video game to teach math, history, and language in Lakota and English to their students. Games that have a “Photography Mode” can introduce people to photography basics. There’s a story about a student who got an ‘A’ on a geography quiz because they memorized a game’s map. Sure it's just a quiz, but one good grade can motivate a regularly struggling student for the long run.

Learning through video games can be rewarding!

SMASH Routes Assisting the Team

I wish my football teams had SMASH Routes back in high school and college. I'm a visual learner and have found it more entertaining to fiddle mindlessly on my phone than to flip through a binder of PDFs. Studying for the game I love barely felt like a break from schoolwork.

Now players can play and learn from a video game that can directly translate to their field.

SMASH Routes is a mobile game that’s not only engaging but teaches football fundamentals based on age/skill level. Players can learn everything from gaps, lining up in formation, and assignments, to complex concepts like reading coverages and executing blitzes on defense.

The app is a great tool for coaches to keep track of who’s studying the playbook and invite a new competitive aspect for the team.

The inadvertently learned skills from playing a mobile game can translate to real-life situations. Gamers have faster reaction times and better focus on visual cues, according to a Healthy Gamer article. Those are two critical skills for athletes.

You can install your team’s playbook into the game and allow players to learn their plays and terminology! They get to compete for medals and rewards against their teammates.

The mobile app invites players, and casual football fans, to have fun learning about the physically demanding sport from the comfort of your home. The more they learn, the faster and more efficient they'll be on the field.

Continuing to Play

As more vaccines are becoming accessible in the United States, people’s lives are regaining some normalcy. The more people who get vaccinated, the safer it will be for us to go outside and enjoy the nice weather.

There are, however, probably going to be fewer Call of Duty weekends. The online gaming sessions won’t last as long as they did early in the pandemic—all the more reason to capitalize on future times together online.

But I am going to continue playing video games simply because they make me happy. They bring out my competitive edge and let me solve problems without real-world repercussions.

It's a game. It’s to escape from this dystopia and a way to take care of ourselves. And that’s something we all need to do from time to time.

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