Online games shape changing social practices


Graphic by Jordan Lee.

Abigail Larson

Graphic by Jordan Lee.
With the concern of COVID-19 still present, people have turned to online resources and video games to create new social experiences. Through internet-based games and communication applications such as Zoom and Discord, people have been able to meet up online to make up for in-person gaming sessions.
Though friends have been playing video games and chatting online long before COVID-19 existed, now more than ever people are logging on to help prevent unnecessary in-person contact.
“I think, for the time being, it’s probably safer to do it online,” Victoria Zaragoza, first-year, said.
Zaragoza is a member of the gaming club at Augustana, which has recently been meeting online to play games from the video game developer Jackbox Games.
Jackbox Games is a small developer, known most recently for its party games, but which also has a trivia franchise called “You Don’t Know Jack.” Their games are sold in party packs, which feature a variety of games, and are available on many platforms. Players can join on any device that has a web-browser, making it widely accessible.
Another popular game at the moment is “Among Us,” a Mafia-style game that Zaragoza mentioned actually benefits from being played online.
“You’re at an advantage because you aren’t around people, you don’t see their facial expressions and what gives them away, so it’s been actually easier to play,” Zaragoza said.
“Among Us” was published by the game studio InnerSloth in 2018, but has recently become popular in the gaming community.
Other members of the Augustana community mentioned utilizing gaming system chats on Xbox or PS4 for hanging out with friends, even if they aren’t all playing together.
“It depends on how many friends I have in that chat at a time,” Jason Smith, sophomore, said. “We try to make it so that we have enough where everyone can play together.”
Smith also mentioned the benefits of having the gaming community throughout quarantine this past spring.
“Being able to connect with someone through quarantine really helped me get through it because it allowed me to take my mind off everything that’s going on,” Smith said.
Although online games have helped in connecting people, the wish for in-person connection is still there.
“As much as I think online is better for us right now, I think it’d be more cool to do it in person,” Jorge Ocampo, first-year, said.
Ocampo suggested the idea of in-person games events that follow social distancing guidelines, similar to the in-person events that Augustana organizations have put on so far this year. He added that though it was a little restricted, he felt he was able to have a normal experience during the socially-distant bingo and trivia nights.
“It was nice being able to see everyone, of course by distance, but it was nice being able to see them,” Ocampo said.
In addition to socially-distant events, student and residential groups have been utilizing online resources for their game nights. Zaragoza attended the virtual bingo night that Andreen hosted earlier this week.
“It was a bit messy like just getting it started in the beginning, but we got it figured out,” Zaragoza said.