The PlayAndTalk weekend is taking place on the 20-21 June and we know that lots of you want to find just a little bit of time to catch up with friends or family online to battle loneliness.
But we know that we all, from time to time, need some help and inspiration to get a good online chat going.
So here are six super speedy suggestions on how to easily set up for the PlayAndTalk weekend and have a good old fashioned natter.
1. Pick a time to play that works for everyone
Even with lockdown limiting our options a little, it can be difficult to make plans on the fly. After all, you never know when someone may be thinking of going for their exercise, popping to the shops or throwing their phone down for a bit of downtime.
That’s why it’s a really good idea to agree a time to play that works for everyone and stick to it. If you all agree for one hour of game time over lunch, in the afternoon or evening, it’ll make it much easier to connect.
2. Work out how you’re talking in advance
The great thing about modern life is that there’s never been more ways to connect with one another. But that can also make it surprisingly tricky to know where the best place for you all to talk actually is.
So agree before you play where you’re going to chat. Whether someone is scheduling a Zoom call, you’re firing up Discord or getting a voice call going with your Mum or Dad over WhatsApp, knowing where you’ll be chatting will make the conversation flow easily.
And importantly, make sure you’ve got your chat set up to stay safe. Make sure to take appropriate steps to limit who you’re talking to with the help of family controls and safety settings to ensure your interactions stay positive.
3. Pick a game that’s right for your group
One of the best things about games is just how many of them are out there. Whatever your style of play or level of expertise, you can find a game that fits with your friends or family to make sure everyone has fun.
And best of all, you can find something dead easy for everyone if you need to. Our Family Game Database shows that you can play all sorts online – from racing games to shooters to simply puzzle games and beyond – so everyone of all ages can play.
4. Get your games and devices ready early
We’ve all had that moment where we’re ready to play and we’re hit by an unexpected system update or we realise someone hasn’t had a chance to install the game yet.
Take five minutes the night before you play to make sure that everything is set and ready to go. Even the biggest game update will be completed overnight, which means a handful of minutes planning can make all the difference.
5. Keep things natural
One of the best things to happen in the past few years is how seriously everyone is taking mental health and how sensitive people are to other’s problems. And the really good news is that you can give a boost just by being yourself when you’re chatting.
We know that lots of people will want to try to help friends or family out if they’re struggling with feeling lonely. But fortunately, our friends at CALM say that best way to help is to keep things natural and – if you do get worried – point them to where they can get help.
We won’t all be able to be trained mental health experts (at least just yet). But spending some time with the people you care about talking about the things you usually do is often the best thing you can do to give someone a boost.
6. Make a habit of it
Finally, if you enjoy playing with friends or family and having a natter then make it a regular thing.
Agreeing to check in once a week for an hour in your favourite game gives you the reassurance that there’ll always be someone to talk to, even in the toughest of times.
But if you do check in regularly, remember to keep your play healthy too. Make it a sensible part of your routine – an hour or two a week is ideal – and make sure you keep taking breaks to get the best out of games (and your mates).
Need to talk to someone about feeling lonely? Check out our resources on our Play&Talk campaign page at www.askaboutgames.com/playandtalk.