What's the biggest difference between the NBA and League of Legends? Well, right now, the NBA is sweating the cancellation of a season, while the League Championship Series can continue online if it needs to. In fact, online gaming is thriving like never before. Why is that? Because with movie theaters closed, and musical artists and celebrities singing at us from their homes, millions of people are turning to video games as they’re forced to stay inside with little else to do.
Whether or not you feel video games are a good hobby to have, for most of our Gen Z teens, games aren’t just a single-person experience. They’re an opportunity—one of the opportunities now—to hang out with friends, laugh over dumb jokes, and share a communal experience while the world goes absolutely nuts.
Traditionally, games have always been played in groups, and when games shifted into the digital space, this actually didn’t change that much. If you talk to anyone who plays games as a hobby, they’ll probably tell you a story that involves another person in some way. The most popular, most long-standing games often involve a community-generated inside the game itself. Let’s take Fortnite, for example. Yes, it’s popular right now, but World of Warcraft also took the world by storm in 2004. And the reasons Fortnite and World of Warcraft are and were so popular is not because of the overwhelming quality of the games themselves, but because they were designed to be played together, and the games generated and created a space for this.
Don’t panic if your teen is playing lots of video games
Okay, don’t let your kid play games all day every day. But also don’t strip them of the passion that might just be keeping them sane during a pretty insane time in our culture. They can’t go to school, youth group, baseball practice, or anywhere they would regularly get to see their friends. So video games might just be the way your teen is able to connect with their friends on a regular basis. It’s allowing them the space to work toward a common goal with their peers while catching up with the people they miss.
It’s a good idea to be aware of new video games coming out that your teens may be interested in. Here are a few games that came out recently:
- DOOM Eternal (rated M, released on PC, PS4, XB1)
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons (rated E, released on Switch)
- Half-Life: Alyx (rated M, released on Steam VR)
- Call of Duty: Warzone (rated M, released on PC, PS4, XB1)
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps (rated E, released on PC, XB1)
Some ground rules
If you're worried that your teen will become a bit of a couch potato sitting in front of a screen all day, here are a few ways you can establish some ground rules while they’re stuck at home.
- Be understanding. This one us for us parents! We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth stating again: If playing video games is your teen’s outlet to the outside world, please don’t cut it off entirely. Try to place yourself in their shoes and understand what they might be thinking and feeling right now (even if they won’t say it aloud). This isn’t an easy time for our kids, so try to give them a little more grace than usual.
- Set some time limits. Again, be understanding first before you decide to only allow your kid 15 minutes of game time every day. Try to strike a balance that feels fair and natural for both you and your child. Maybe your kid’s friends usually play at a certain time of day, so allow them to play during that time, and find some other ways to engage them throughout the rest of the day.
- Game with them. Not a gamer yourself? Don’t have to be! With so much time at home, why not spend some of it engaging in something your kid really loves? Whether it’s Fortnite, Animal Crossing, or some other game your kid is into, ask to join them. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have connecting with them in that way!
P.S. We made a free video that you can watch as a family to spark discussion about how to approach video games during quarantine. Watch it together, then share it with another family you know could benefit from a conversation on video games!