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When the world is on pause, games can help keep you connected

The world is on pause at the moment and we’re living through strange and unprecedented times. With news coming in from all directions, it can be easy to feel out of control or uncertain.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Ukie, the trade body for the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry, to help you put some order around your day and tackle everything in the best way possible. And, as we’re all making our way through this lockdown, that includes plugging in and loading up your favourite games.

If you’re reading this we’re guessing you’re into games. And, at times like these, it’s good to remember that they’re a great way to have fun with your mates, to switch off from things for a little while, to connect with other people and to just generally chill out. It’s also a brilliant way to share CALM’s message and to help raise money for our life-saving services.  

With that in mind, together we’ve come up with some tips and advice – about games and other general, helpful stuff – that will mean you can press continue and keep your life as normal as it can be in these very un-normal times.

Find what’s right for you

Whether it’s playing on your own, taking on your mates, or showing off your skills on a live stream – there are loads of ways to feel the positive impacts that gaming can have on our mental health and wellbeing.

With everything that’s going, the truth it isn’t really important what you play – what is important is to play whatever makes you feel good, with whoever you like to play with.

Socialising through games

Now, more than ever, it’s important that we keep in touch with our mates. Games can be a great way to do just that – not only through the obvious route of playing them with mates, but also through their huge communities and online fanbases.

And you don’t just have to take that from us. Jamie Drew from the BROverwatch game channel knows how effective games can be as a channel of conversation: 

“I’ve been trying to get my friends to play this game with me for almost a year and a few months ago it worked. I finally dragged JP, Duncan, and Carl down to my level, the playing-at-3am level, and a funny thing happened: we started talking.

“We’re all in that weird, liminal period of our lives, feeling stuck in careers and relationships, feeling hard-done by the state of the world right now, feeling kind of alone. At some point the group chat moved from tactical movements in a “Protect The Payload” session towards a more frank and open place in the real world.”

That’s the good stuff. So why not try getting on a game with some pals and seeing where the chat takes you?

Here’s how to get that conversation going online, offline and when you’re watching a stream

… through online play

Online chat is a big part of the gaming experience and all the major platforms allow you to add friends, talk to them via messages or voice chat, and set up groups without even having to start up a game. 

You probably already know but to play games online with other people, you have to subscribe to their online services. For PlayStation 4 you’ll need Playstation Plus, for Xbox One Xbox Live Gold and for Nintendo Switch it’s Nintendo Online. There are also Steam and the Epic Store, two PC games download platforms, which are free to access and let you chat with your friends through text chats

And when you’re inside the games themselves, they also have a load of social tools and settings to help you chat to your friends online.

They also, really importantly, let you set who else can talk to you as well. Games can be a great place to meet new people and make new friends. That’s important because, if you’re worried about trash talking, want to keep your chat to yourself or want to keep your circle of friends tight,  you can do things like mute voice chat, mute text chat and only allow your team to talk to you.

… through offline play

Connecting with others via a game doesn’t always mean you have to be online. We know loads of you will be isolating with family or flatmates, and there are plenty of offline games to keep spirits up when that 14th 1,000 piece jigsaw just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Overcooked 2, Rocket League and Jackbox Party Pack are great games to enjoy together at home without being connected to the www.

… through online & streaming communities 

Perhaps you don’t have a console and you just want to watch live broadcasts of people playing games. We get that. Video game streaming is great for bringing loads of people together around a game and most channels and streams usually have a chat feature so that you can talk to others live. Best of all, these platforms are free to use.

The main video streaming platforms showing off games content are.

Outside of streaming and other in game chat, it’s also worth looking in to setting up a Discord with your friends.  It’s a free to use audio and text app, which means you can set up your own servers and organise big voice group chats in there. It’s the perfect way to co-ordinate your in game chat, but can also be the perfect place to chat directly with mates once you’ve popped the controller down.

Stay in control

Moderation is important. You’ve probably heard that a million times but that doesn’t make it any less true. Games can be a hugely positive way to spend some time during this strange period and to connect with your friends. 

But, let’s be honest, you don’t want to come out the other side of this with a sub-50 daily step count and a galaxy of crumbs nestled into your jumper. 

Take breaks every hour for at least five minutes (ideally ten). Make sure to break up your sessions with other hobbies, like reading, watching the telly or whatever else keeps you busy. And, if you’re setting up games for your family, remember to use your console’s family settings to manage or limit things like play time. Ask About Games also has a load of advice on how to play responsibly too, so check that out.

Finally, remember to eat well, sleep, and exercise where and when possible.

Remember CALM is here for you

We’re all on lockdown and that can be a really strange thing to come to terms with. At CALM, we’re here for you no matter who you are or what you’re going through. Our free and anonymous helpline and webchat are open every day, as normal, from 5pm-midnight. If you need support, find more info here.

Game for good

With over £75m raised for charities on Twitch since 2012, millions of people are already gaming to raise money for good causes. There are loads of awesome gamers already supporting CALM in wonderful and creative ways, so why not join the ranks?

Use this time and your passion for gaming to help raise money and help us save lives. Play whatever makes you feel good, with whoever you like to play with, and do it for CALM. You can find out more here. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

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