COLUMN: Video games made pandemic socialization possible, lets keep playing together.

Many of us have that distinct memory of screaming matches across the dorm room when a friend steals a star in Mario Party. It could be getting a game-winning play in Overwatch or getting blue-shelled in Mario Kart.

These party games can be the lifeblood of a get-together. They bond people together or, in some cases, tear each other apart in the funniest ways imaginable. 

But what if you couldn’t get together for those games? 

I’ll keep this frank since we all faced this pandemic together. Friends couldn’t see each other in fear of the deadly virus and, in turn, isolated themselves from others. Video calls and work at home became the status quo, mixing everyone’s work and personal life into an indivisible mess. 

I remember losing interest in normal video calls with friends. At first it was exciting to see them all again after weeks of isolation, but the calls grew dull. There was nothing going on at home, so we needed something fun to heal our deteriorating friendships - stat.

Luckily, there were online video games that provided the world with entertainment at home. 

Video games were the lifeblood of my friendships during the pandemic. I remember large groups of friends on a video call, playing a volume of Jackbox Games. It was perfect since only one person needed the game; the rest of our friends could type in a code and join in on their phone’s browser. 

When it came to my roommates, who lived either halfway across the state or lived in a completely different state altogether, we needed a nice game to relax with. In the end, one roommate set up a Discord server for us to chat in and we all gathered to play a virtual minigolf game.

These memories were some of the highlights of my time at home, but there was one other game that grabbed the world’s attention. I remember Among Us, a game released in 2018, became the next big hit - all because you could play with friends and strangers. It gave friends that same heartfelt passion of betraying friends that a Mario Party game would invoke. 

As the pandemic, hopefully, winds down, let's continue forging bonds through games. After all, video games are a fantastic medium to play with others on campus. 

There are multiple ways to celebrate gaming culture on campus. Consider participating in the following organizations: 

  • Central Michigan Smash Ulimate (RSO)
  • The CMU esports team
  • Action Replay (RSO)
  • Game Development and Design Club (RSO)
  • Classics Game Club (RSO)

All I ask is that you remember those good memories. Remember the blue shells you threw at your friends in Mario Kart. Remember the time you convinced your friends that an innocent bystander was the impostor in Among Us. 

We need to remember that video games are a part of our relationships and our culture as CMU transitions to normal(ish) procedures.

Video games bring us together and sometimes it can save what we have.