Guest Post: Why shouldn’t we share games, too?

Saf’s passion for writing, community and games is what drew us to her for a guest post here. Growing up in the era of couch co-op and the golden age of single player, but also the rise of the multiplayer giant, she’s learned to share a variety of different gaming experiences with her loved ones. This is Saf’s take on connecting through games, especially single player.

We all know that games are fun, so why not enjoy your favourite games with the people you love? We do it with other things all the time: movies, sports, even books — in a way. Why shouldn’t we share games, too?
Of course, many people already play games socially. Online multiplayer games are hugely popular and socially driven. They can be a way to play with friends or meet new people and make friends, and it’s not uncommon for the latter to happen. Even if long-lasting connections aren’t formed, there are special moments that can often be found when playing a game online with strangers. These moments — like finding yourself on an Overwatch team of 6 Winstons — can help to bring a game to life. They give it a spontaneity beyond strategy and goals, and they’re so very human. Journey is a wonderful example of a game that facilitates these moments.
But single-player games shouldn’t be discounted when it comes to playing with friends. In a similar vein to watching a friend watch your favourite movie, being with a friend experiencing your favourite game can be a powerful bonding experience. Except far more interactive.
Growing up at a time when consoles weren’t so easy to connect to the internet — and the internet itself was glacial — meant that I often found myself playing single-player games with friends. The Jak series was one of my favourites, and I played through the games more than once with different pals. Doing so taught me valuable lessons about collaboration and sharing, which are values that aren’t only important for children.
The Importance of Play
Play, even in adulthood, cannot be overstated in its importance. Play can help improve mood, decrease stress, and foster creativity. It can even help us with facilitating connections: playing a game that encourages helping others will in turn make us more likely to do the same in the real world.
None of that necessarily needs a second person, but wasn’t it always more fun to play with friends as a child? Playing with others opens us up to new ideas and experiences as each person brings their own point of view to the game. Play connects us.
Social Connection
Building connections with each other is an important part of our lives, whether we’re extroverted, introverted, or somewhere in-between. Sharing the things we love with those we love not only brings our friends closer to our hearts, but it also gives us a chance to reflect on our favourite things. Playing through a loved game with a friend will give you their experience of the game as they play for the first time — their reactions, their thoughts, their favourite characters. All of this can lead to further conversations about the game, and their perspective will likely shed new light on an old adventure.
And who doesn’t love showing off what they know? Maybe you stored every single piece of lore in your memory, or you know trivia about the development of the game, or you found the secret location. Maybe you just really love one character in particular. As your loved one learns more about the games you hold close to your heart, they in turn learn more about you.
Playing Single-Player With Friends
There’s the classic swap-at-character-death, or changing players at each level. Some people genuinely enjoy sitting back and watching someone else play a game, and this is a completely valid way to play with someone else, too. Some people are quick at puzzles, others are adept at quick time events, while there are some who’d rather play the branching dialogue of the story while they leave the shooting to someone else. The most important aspects of finding ways to play single-player games with friends are keeping an open mind, being ready to collaborate, and remembering that everyone finds joy from different parts of a game.
While this is easy for some, it may be harder for others. Playing games with friends — be they couch co-op, online competitive, or single-player — can teach you and your friends a lot about each other: how you deal with stress, what interests you within the game world, what you do when you’re excited, how you react when scared, and more. Not only is sharing a favourite game fun, it’s relationship building.
So next time a loved one is over, why not put away that second controller and pull out an old favourite? Share the games you love and connect with the people close to you. Together, you can overcome any obstacle.

Saf is a writer, podcaster, photographer, and game developer exploring diversity, video games, Star Wars, and chronic/mental illnesses. Read more of her insightful posts at back her work on Patreon for more.

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