Nothing has quite the power of universal connection as games. No matter what the medium is, whether it’s a video game, board game, card game, or something else entirely, games bring people together, and the following six ways listed below only scratch the surface. One thing is certain, though: you don’t need to go outside to play.
1. Teach a friend how to play a new game.
There is always something exhilarating in teaching a friend how to play a favorite game, or even better: being on the other side and learning about your friend’s favorite game. Either, you are hoping that they’ll like it as much as you do, or you want to learn how to play it quickly to impress your friend. Either way, both parties are left vulnerable, allowing the friendship to grow stronger. Growing up I loved playing billiards with my brother and my cousins, and now I love getting to teach all my friends how to play and watching them improve each match. In turn, I’m always ecstatic to learn about their favorite games and a little bit more about themselves.
2. Backseat gaming.
Sometimes, you want to show your friend a game that they would love but is for single players, is too complicated to explain the mechanics of, or is not interesting enough for your friend to want to control themselves for whatever reason. This is where backseat gaming comes in. Backseat gaming”is when the person at the controller has to do whatever the person without a controller tells them to do. The commands could be serious or joking, but the one at the controller honors their wishes, though they can give suggestions and point out “Easter eggs,” which creates a unique and exciting dynamic. Because playing a game this way is based heavily on constant communication, there will never be a lull in conversation and you will become more comfortable talking to each other in general.
3. Ask a parent or grandparent about their favorite games.
Games can help bridge age gaps, as well, and if you ask someone older than you about their favorite games, their reactions will be priceless as they light up with joy. When my brother and I asked our grandfather this question, he taught us about a popular fun, yet strategic Italian game from when he was little -- it was a bizarre combination of tic-tac-toe and checkers. I treasure the days spent learning many new card games and variations of old favorites that my dad had picked up from here and there, cracking jokes the whole time. Not only will you now be able to impress your peers with all the interesting new games that you’ll know about, but you will also have made a person’s day.
4. Make the game a duel, party, or competition.
Nothing in the world gets people more excited to join in on some fun as some friendly (or not so friendly) competition. A humorous game of Cards Against Humanity can go on for hours and be the highlight of any evening. My family always loves to duel it out in table tennis and foosball whenever we get the chance. Family friends that we don’t see very often will pull out all the stops to have a major video game party, and charity events that are based around a competitive video game, like Super Smash Bros., are sure to draw quite a crowd. Competitions bring out the best (and sometimes the worst) in players.
5. Collaborate together on puzzles.
Games do not always have to be a competition, and relaxing into a puzzle can be the best way to connect with someone who isn’t fond of high action games. I’ve always been a fan of working on a huge jigsaw puzzle while singing along to favorite songs with some friends, or quietly curling up and working on a word search with my mom. Nothing can beat the sense of accomplishment and pride that is felt when finally completing a difficult crossword puzzle after all of you struggle to come up with the answers that were on the tip of your tongue but you forgot in the moment.
6. Multiplayer online games.
My brother and I have always loved playing all kinds of games together as player one and player two, and that hasn’t changed despite the fact that there’s over 3000 miles between us. Now that I’m across the country rather than across the couch, we get our gaming fix in by multiplayer games online and a phone call to keep up the banter, as do many other people with their friends, siblings, and significant others. Whether going head-to-head trying to hit each other in Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball or working together to diffuse a bomb in Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, you can experience everything together through online gaming and make the distance seem to disappear.