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Staying In Touch With Grandparents

With many of us isolating at home, and older members of the family likely to be doing this for longer, finding new and innovative ways to stay connected is important.

Although video games are usually considered to be something that offers entertainment and excitement for youngsters, there are games played by people of all ages. Pertinently, there are many online games that can help us engage with each other in deeper and more ongoing ways than a phone call or Zoom video.

I have worked with a number of families, to help them use video games to connect with older members and been surprised how effective this has been. Here’s what I learned:

Finding the Right Game

It’s important to find a game that is both interesting to the people playing it, easy to learn and on the technology they have available to them. To begin with, this may start on Smartphones, computers or tablets. If it becomes a popular pastime you could consider moving to console to broaden your options.

To help you find some good games, Family Game Database has a list specifically picked out to ease loneliness and connect generations. This includes:

  1. Co-operative: Some of the games are good ways to connect and play co-operatively online (like FeatherOvercooked 2Ibb and ObbSkylanders Children of Light).
  2. Competitive: With some practice, there are easy and fun online competitive games (like Tricky TowersVideoball)
  3. Asynchronous: Other games are a way to connect and play without being online at the same time (like Horizon Chase TurboWormsWords With FriendsWargrooveAnimal Crossing).
  4. Community: Then there are games that connect you with a wider player community in a gentle non-invasive way (like The First TreeJourneyLost WordsThe Endless Forrest).

Getting Online

Games played via smartphones or via Facebook are a good place to start as you don’t need subscriptions to access online interactions. On consoles, you are likely to need Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus or Nintendo Online to be able to play together. There are some online console games not needing a subscription, although these are often aimed at younger audiences.

Agree How You Will Talk

Agree beforehand how you will talk to each other. Many games offer the ability to chat using a headset plugged into your computer or console controller.

But it can work just as well to talk over Skype or Zoom while you are playing. You can even use a good old fashioned phone call. The important thing is that it works for you and the other people you are connecting with.

Find A Routine

A big part of the success or failure of this connection is providing regular support and assistance to each player. Setting a time of day that you will play can be helpful. Also, you can pick games that are played Asynchronously, which means you don’t need to both be online at the same time.

If you are online at the same time, some games let you talk while you play. This will require a headset or headphones with a microphone attached. If this is a step too far you can always use Skype or similar calling app to chat while you play.

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.