People connect over online games, conversations during quarantine


Photo by SCREEN POST on Unsplash

The video game industry was worth $11.6 billion total in January.

Lizzie Stone, Staff Writer

Since meeting in person isn’t always a safe option, students have struggled to keep in touch with friends. As a result, many have turned to online games and chats instead. 

Sophomore Tanya Dubey is one of the many people that began meeting up with their friends online since quarantine started. 

“I wouldn’t say meeting virtually was very difficult to transition to since all my friends have social media,” Dubey said. “It was actually quite easy to have conversations with them at any time.”

While Dubey uses more common social media such as Instagram, other applications have risen in popularity such as Discord, a messaging app primarily used for gaming. Discord currently has 100 million monthly users, and almost one-third of them use the platform just for messaging.

“I use Discord with my friends all the time,” junior Julia Rodrigues said. “I used it before quarantine, but my friends and I were definitely on it more after we stopped being able to meet in person.”

Many people use the app to host multiplayer games. Web games have multiplayer features that are often enhanced by Discord voice chats. Users can also share their screens or stream music to their friends.

“My friend group texts a lot and we sometimes do voice calls or movie nights through Discord,” senior Marie Hesse said. “We play an online game called sometimes, which is essentially pictionary on the computer.”

Similarly, others have turned to online video games to find virtual hangout spaces. Video game sales increased by 30% between April and June of last year, reaching $11.6 billion in January.

“My friends and I played new games that we didn’t already have,” Rodrigues said. “Some of us bought Among Us, and I bought a Minecraft account to play with them.”

Minecraft is a sandbox game with multiplayer features. It was a popular choice for virtual events with Minecraft proms and graduations going viral on social media last spring. Additionally, there are countless other games that offer a variety of online experiences to keep in touch with friends and meet new ones. 

“I have started to play a few different games such as Call of Duty and Rocket League,” said Dubey. “It’s great to use your free time on, but you can get obsessed. Also it’s the most safe form of communication you can have during quarantine.”

Virtual spaces are convenient right now, but replicating real life interactions can be difficult. People are limited to what their technology can accomplish, and some don’t have access to microphones or cameras or the hardware to run games. Online socialization is unique and sometimes a less personal connection because people often can’t see each other face to face.

“Online interaction is not enough,” Rodrigues said. “I really miss my friends.”

Researchers have attempted to understand the effect quarantine is having on regular people throughout its duration. A survey from Swinburne University of Technology found that 2 out of 3 people in American and Britain reported feeling lonelier during the pandemic. People also had more mental health issues including depression, anxiety and stress.

Maintaining connections with friends online helps us stay sane,” Hesse said. “Staying connected with the people you love is extremely important, especially during quarantine.”