Do you have games? Video games are the best group activity during Omicron’s peak

The only light in the room was a bright computer screen, with no sound except the keystrokes and the gentle pivoting of the computer mouse. The image on the screen changes with each press and small movement of the wrist. Sophomore Mark Bellemare stares intently at the screen, listening to any particular sound in his headphones while searching for virtual ghosts.

“I was playing a ghost hunting game called ‘Phasmophobia’ and we were looking for the ghost, like you do in a ghost hunting game, and I said something like ‘Wow, this game is getting less scary more play you,” Bellemare said. “And then the ghost appeared in front of me and my friends and we all screamed.”

As the pandemic worsens again due to the Omicron variant, many students like Bellemare are using the game as a way to safely socialize with others. Bellemare said that while he used the game to socialize during the pandemic, it was a good way to connect with people even before the outbreak.

“Having a group to play games with is important because it makes you feel better if you’re not the only one struggling with a game mechanic or something,” Bellemare said. “Also, having other people around to create great moments that you can all look back on and laugh at is awesome.”

Sophomore Cutter Higgins said he also enjoys the game as a way to connect with his friends, especially when they have distance between them during the break and this term’s two-week distance period.

“I think the most memorable moments I’ve had playing with people are just the shared experiences of breaking something together or breaking records,” Higgins said. “It’s a kind of sense of accomplishment within your group that you share and look back on.”

While he’s enjoying the experience, he said it can be difficult to keep playing with friends once classes start and his workload starts to increase again. But, when he gets the chance, it helps him establish a closer relationship with his friends.

“Since coming to DePaul, I haven’t really played too many games, but I’ve seen a really big presence from the gaming community here,” Higgins said. “I’ve stayed in touch with a few people I met in my first term on campus through online games, which helped me get to know them better. I think playing video games with someone can be more effective at getting to know someone rather than a text or a call because it’s more of an activity coupled with socializing with them which creates a stronger interaction.

At a time when going out and meeting large groups poses significant risks, Bellemare agreed that gaming is one of the best ways to socialize virtually.

“Playing games with your friends means you don’t really have to talk about anything,” Bellemare said. “You could just talk about what’s going on in the game and you’d still have a great time with that person, it’s a non-physical activity that works just as well.”

Sophomore Noble Thompson said he also believes the game provides activity for groups of friends during the pandemic, not just a format for communication.

“Texting or calling is fun to do, but sometimes it requires more concentration, playing games with people is like a background activity, like going bowling or driving a go-kart, just on a smaller scale,” Thompson said. “Gaming is similar to a sport, people can bond online or offline and it’s not exclusive. Being good at a game isn’t mandatory, it’s meant to be a way to have fun and relax, or it can be used as an art medium like cinema but more interactive or it can be a gathering area where people can find communities.”

But, while Thompson thinks it’s important to have that option during the pandemic, he said people shouldn’t stop seeing their friends in person when possible.

“I think people can hang out with friends as long as they don’t go out to lots of places,” Thompson said. “Social media has limited interaction, but it replaces a bit. Games should be treated as an extension of entertainment and interaction; it shouldn’t consume lives or replace face-to-face interaction.

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