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During the start of the pandemic, people had to find a way to bond and hang out with their friends virtually. Gaming then found its time to shine and proved itself to be useful after years of it being demonized.

Gamers have long been stereotyped as being socially awkward shut-ins. They’re often seen as lazy, unhygienic and a whole list of other undesirable attributes.

In reality, gaming is a perfectly fine hobby to have. In fact, it can actually be very beneficial for people. Studies have shown that video games can improve spatial navigation, memory and reasoning. Video games can also improve multitasking capabilities and problem-solving skills in children.

Video games get a bad rap but they can actually be great for people. Most importantly they can be really fun and this was put to use during the pandemic.

Gaming is a hobby that thankfully fits perfectly with being able to isolate in your house. With voice chat apps like Discord, people can chat with each other while playing games online with one another no matter where they are in the world.

Among Us was a game that exploded in popularity within gamer circles and nongamer circles alike. The game was similar to the party game Mafia in many ways, so it’s not surprising it went viral. Its popularity can also be attributed to the fact that it was free on the app store, making it accessible to people who normally wouldn’t be into playing online games. Pretty soon everywhere you looked online there were videos of people playing Among Us.

It became a thing for friend groups to play together, a way for RA’s to bond with their residents, and for people to just play online and socialize with new people. Eventually, the popularity of Among Us died down, people got vaccinated and began to go out again and move on, but this phenomenon showed the power an online game can have when people are desperate for socialization but are required to social distance.

Many non-gamers may have moved on from Among Us without a look back but people should take advantage of online games as a virtual hangout medium. The omicron COVID-19 variant is not looking good right now and it may be smarter to meet with friends online rather than in person.

Some may be hesitant about getting into gaming because of the stigma around gaming or the feeling that they need to have crazy equipment to play most games, or perhaps they’re afraid of the toxicity in online gaming culture.

The stigma of gamers is unfortunate but there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Gaming is a fun way to pass the time and fun should not be stigmatized. You also don’t need to worry about getting expensive equipment if you want to get started in gaming. Some games need more high-tech computers to work, but a good deal of games you can find on the video game store Steam can be played on Mac laptops and computers usually not associated with gaming.

The toxicity of online gaming is a real and understandable concern. Many may have learned how mean and brutal players can be from playing Among Us online with strangers.

However, in most multiplayer games you can play with just friends, just like how Among Us had a setting where you could invite players to a private lobby to play. Games like Stardew Valley, Minecraft, Jackbox Games are all great games you can play with just your friends. No need to deal with any online toxicity.

While we can hope for an end to this pandemic, it doesn’t look like it’s coming any time soon. So in this time where people should stay in more than they should go out, gaming is a great way to hang out and stay in touch with friends, while also having a fun activity to do together. Try it out and it might just be the solution to staying sane while social distancing.

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