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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Ready, player everyone
By Preston Kwan | May | June 2022
Some people rail against video games, calling them useless and addictive. But to others, video games are an immersive interactive world where, contrary to television, it allows you to experience it through your actions and not just your eyes. In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, video games were a sanity saver for people of all ages, everywhere. Playing games online provided a means to socialize with friends, share laughs as we teamed up to defeat a common enemy and relish the victory or bemoan the defeat. Many video game companies added new customers during the pandemic, as plenty of us were seeking new ways to connect with others during the shelter-in-place mandate.
It was hard to believe that distance learning continued as long as it did, and we didn’t have events like field trips, dances or graduation ceremonies anymore. We students and teachers adjusted to a new world of Google Meets, online documents and photographing homework assignments. Feelings of isolation were unavoidable. In my experience, video games were a sort of lifesaver for me and my friends during the pandemic. We learned about and shared online games and even got to know new people we met through playing.
Online gaming strengthened my relationship with my cousin who lives in Los Angeles, as he included me in his group of friends who were also keeping in touch with each other through playing video games. We all chatted constantly while playing games such as Fortnite, Roblox and League of Legends. So once upon a night, I hopped onto League of Legends with my cousin and his friends and joined their party. We played online frequently, and called ourselves “The Rats”. It may have felt strange at first to socialize this way, but it soon became a new normal that we looked forward to.
A happy bonus was that The Rats I met online became real-life friends. I traveled with my mom to Los Angeles to visit my cousins and their family over Thanksgiving. It was our first trip in over a year and a half. I told The Rats about my upcoming trip and we enthusiastically made plans to meet in person. When we finally met, we excitedly greeted each other and laughed as we compared our heights since we’d only seen each other’s faces on the screen up to this point.
Playing games online provided a means to socialize with friends, share laughs as we teamed up to defeat a common enemy and relish the victory or bemoan the defeat.
We played foosball, ate snacks and yes, played video games, but this time we sat side by side instead of online. The bonds we formed while teaming up to play hours of League of Legends made our in-person encounter feel natural and fluid. We knew so much about each other after cheering each other on during gaming, celebrating birthdays on FaceTime, and providing encouragement through some challenging times. It felt like second nature when we met in person. We took some photos to commemorate the occasion and promised to meet up again when we could.
We still play online games occasionally, although not nearly as often as during the stay-at-home order. Sometimes we get on a call just to chat and catch up. It’s a sign that our lives have started to transition back to normal as we attend school in person, play sports, eat at restaurants and go to movie theaters again. I’m glad the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us. I’m especially grateful for the role online video games played during the most isolating times, by giving me a way to enjoy real-time socializing with old friends, and even make new ones.
Preston Kwan attends Miller Middle School in the Cupertino Union School District.
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