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#LetsTalkLoneliness - Games can help keep you connected this Christmas

2020. What a weird year. The world seems like it’s been on pause. There’s been loads of uncertainty and strangeness. We’ve all been through A LOT this year. And now, to top it off, here comes the strangest Christmas we’re ever going to have.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to help you put some order around the festive period and tackle everything in the best way possible. 

This Christmas will be… different - and even though we have the chance to see some family members, most of us will still have to isolate from our mates and stay safe. But we still have one great Christmas tradition: playing new games. So unwrapping (OK, downloading) that game you’ve asked for and plugging in is a great way to have fun with your mates, switch off from things for a little while, connect with other people and just generally chill out. (It’s also a brilliant way to share CALM’s message and to help raise money for their life-saving services.) 

With that in mind, we’ve got some tips and advice that will mean you can press continue this Christmas (we’re still working on a Santa Pause joke here - we’ll get back to you) and keep your life as normal as it can be in these very un-normal festive times.

Find what’s right for you

Whether it’s playing on your own, taking on your mates (or relatives, if you want an easy Boxing Day victory), 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. 

Play whatever makes you feel good, with whoever you like to play with at a time that works for you over the festive season. We saw earlier this year that people felt less lonely, less anxious and happier when they played together, so it’s well worth jumping in.

Socialising through games

It’s important now more than ever that we retain connections with others and keep in touch with our pals. Games provide a perfect opportunity to do just that – not only through the obvious route of playing them with friends, but also through their rich communities and online fanbases.

Don’t just take it from us. Jamie Drew from the BROverwatch game channel knows how effective gaming can be as a channel of conversation: “I’ve been trying to get my friends to play this 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. And Christmas might be the best time to get your mates to give that game a go you’ve been banging on about. So why not try getting on a game with some pals and seeing where the chat takes you?

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is wholesome online fun
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is wholesome online fun

Through Online play

Thankfully, all major platforms have an online component where you can add friends, talk to them via messages or voice chat, and set up groups without even having to start up a game. How good is that? To play games online with other people, players will have to subscribe to their respective online services below.

  1. PlayStation 4/5: Playstation Network
    In order to play online multiplayer, players will need to purchase Playstation Plus.

  2. Xbox One/Xbox Series S/X: Xbox Live
    in order to play online multiplayer, players will need to purchase Xbox Live Gold.
  3. Nintendo Switch: Nintendo Online
    In order to play online multiplayer, players will need to purchase access to Nintendo Online. 

Most online multiplayer games also have social components to them, meaning you and your crew can chat and create ‘lobbies’ of private games. We’ve got a great range of recommendations for you including:

  1. Great cross platform online multiplayer games
  2. Great games to Play&Talk in
  3. Brilliant Battle Royale titles
  4. Talk to win these games
  5. First steps into online games

Through Offline play

Here’s some good news: connecting with others via a game doesn’t always rely on an online component. 

If you are spending time with your family this Christmas this could be the perfect time to ditch the board games and try out the offline games to keep spirits up without needing an online connection.

  1. Compete on the couch
  2. Get children talking
  3. One joy con multiplayer games for Nintendo Switch
  4. Work together to thrive

Through online & streaming communities 

Perhaps you don’t have a console and you just want to watch live broadcasts of people playing games. Well, who could blame you? Video game streaming is great and is a really popular way of bringing a community together around a game. Most channels and streams will usually have a chat feature so that you can talk to others live and, best of all, these platforms are free. 

  2. YouTube Gaming
  3. Facebook gaming

There are festive streams going on that we’d recommend checking out including Yogscast's Jingle Jam which is going to be huuugggeee. 

Outside of streaming, Discord is a free to use audio, video and text app, allowing users to set up their own servers, run text chats and set up voice calls. (PC, Mobile). If you want to bring a community of players together, it’s both a great way to set up games and to keep people talking between sessions.

Stay in control

As with anything in life, moderation is important. Games can be a hugely positive way to spend some time during this strange period 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 selection box crumbs and bits of Turkey nestled into your jumper. 

Take breaks. Take it easy. And remember to eat well, sleep, and exercise where possible. Play is for life, not just for Christmas - you don’t need to fit it all in over these short days in December. 

Remember CALM is here for you

We’re all in different tiers and no Christmas will be the same as the other - and that can be a really strange thing to come to terms with. Remember that CALM is here for you no matter who you are or what you’re going through. Their free and anonymous helpline and webchat are open every day (including Christmas Day) from 5pm-midnight. If you need support, find more info here.

Find out more about how you can support CALM through playing games here.

Ukie is supporting the #LetsTalkLoneliness campaign to help fight loneliness in the UK. Find our more about the campaign here.

Avatar for Andrew Robertson
Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames and has written for national press and broadcast about video games and families for over 15 years. He has just published the Taming Gaming book with its Family Video Game Database.