We can all agree that this past year (2020 is actually over!) was, at the very least, different. Work, entertainment, sports, and seeing others were all changed. But I’m not here to talk about that. You know all about it. We’ve all lived it and are ready to move on into most likely better times. What I am here to talk about is one part of 2020 life that changed for the better – gaming.
Gaming itself has evolved. Microsoft and Sony set the stage for change with the release of next generations systems. These new (and both great) monoliths promise better, faster, and more immersive experiences that, given time, they should reach. And yes, I’m looking at you Cyberpunk. You needed more time too.
The Experience of Gaming
On the surface, my experience and relationship with gaming has stayed the same. The console sits in my basement waiting for the few hours a week that I can pick up a controller and put everything else aside. I’ve dropped, looted, and fought to be the last team alive in a shrinking ring, donned the hidden blade while conquering the land of the saxons, and even been reborn (for the 17th time) as the Dovahkiin to adventure until I take a fateful arrow to the knee (figuratively of course). The familiar escape of gaming has helped to keep me sane and grounded this year, anchoring me to worlds and experiences that remain untouched by the insanity of recent reality.
And the biggest change of 2020, for me, was the advent and discovery of easy cross play of free to play games. My old friends all drifted to different systems over time. A few moved to PC, a few to PlayStation. Last year, before I got back into the Microsoft system, I remember when two friends on PC invited me to PUBG and I was limited by my system. I did not care as much then, I could still go out and see people at a whim. But now, thankfully, the system doesn’t matter.
I can pick up my Xbox controller, open discord on my phone, and instantly be transported back to my college dorm. We can talk about nothing or everything, with the familiar drone of the engines in Rocket League as an excuse to just chat for an hour. Or video call for an entire night with the pretense of playing an online version of Codenames or Jackbox.
This year, the games have not been the defining factor of gaming. The link that they provide, the connection between these bubbles we now call home, has defined my year. I’ve talked more this year with old, now distant friends than any year before. And man, has it been wonderful.
I sincerely and deeply hope for all of you that gaming has done the same. And if it hasn’t, take a moment. Pick up your phone. Open your messaging app of choice. Call those old friends who you miss seeing and talking to. Ask them to play a game. There are plenty of multiplayer games on Game Pass, and plenty of free to play cross play games now (Rocket League, Apex, Warzone, Fortnite, the list goes on and on). I can’t fully express how good it feels to hear those voices, even if it’s while dying to the ring or watching the other cars drive the ball into your own net time after time. I hope that is one part of 2020 that survives.
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