By Brenden Groom
Originally Posted on Pass the Controller
COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is continuing to sweep the globe, but as it continues to impact the United States and other parts of the world, social distancing and self quarantine are crucial to helping decrease the pandemic from spreading. As the days and weeks move along, television shows and movies are being postponed, release dates pushed, major sports across the globe are suspending their seasons, and for some these are vital escapes and forms of entertainment that fuel their everyday lives.
Video games will most likely have waves of new players, both casual and people picking up controllers and entering virtual spaces for the first time. In an ideal situation where you had access to multiple platforms, I’d love to recommend essential indie games and other amazing large studio games that can be found across each generation of gaming– but that’s not the intent of this article. This is meant for those who may not have access to or own dedicated gaming platforms such as a Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4. This will highlight just a few of the ways that newcomers or those on the fringe of the gaming sphere can get involved both as a player and spectator.
Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube are among the most popular venues for independent creators and companies to showcase their own content through live-streaming with a heavy focus on video games being played live. Although, some streamers try and operate outside of that box too if you are looking for cooking, podcasts, or artist streams just to name a few. All of these services are free to view, so you can browse on your mobile device, tablet, or computer and look for content that may seem interesting to you.
Looking for something with a competitive edge to replace the lack of traditional sports right now? Large tournaments and small independent leagues are usually not hard to find for a variety of genres of games from first person shooters, fighting games, and sports sims among the bevy of games being played. Also, many of your now benched athletes are deciding to pick up the sticks as their way of staying competitive off of the field so you can look for that as well.
These streaming services can offer more than just watching someone play, you can come across creators who are giving in-depth tutorials, practicing game-breaking speed runs, or just trying to have a laid back time with their community of viewers. These services also have a live chat feed, so you can interact with other viewers and the person who’s streaming via text chat. What may seem daunting at first, live streams can definitely ease you into different types of games and help open your eyes to the variety of things available out there.
Free To Play
Since this article is intended for those who most likely don’t own dedicated gaming platforms, one of the options that is most widely available are free to play games on mobile, tablets, or computers. Fortnite remains one of the top played and widely available games across virtually almost every platform including the three just mentioned. With no monetary barrier for entry, if you have a modern enough smartphone, tablet, or computer you should be able to download Fortnite and hop right in. Other popular free to play games like the recently released Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends are available to download and play for free, but unless you have access to an Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC with the proper specs you will be out of luck.
You can sift through the free to play options on both PC and your mobile device’s app store, but be mindful of how some games use micro-transactions to offset the freemium price-tag by pushing you towards paying smaller transactions over time. Pokemon GO, League of Legends, and Hearthstone are among some of the other free to play games that are popular.
Virtually everyone has a smartphone in this era and with that you’re open to a vast array of gaming experiences that can be purchased or downloaded for free. There are thousands upon thousands of games available across the Apple App Store and Google Play Store respectively. On the Apple side of devices, their subscription service Apple Arcade has a slew of great mobile experiences from the psychedelic, playable pop album Sayonara Wild Hearts to the strategy puzzle game Grindstone. There are sure to be experiences across a variety of genres that would appeal to your tastes included in Apple Arcade and outside of that on your phone’s storefront. Other notable mobile game shoutouts worth looking at if you’re debating venturing into the mobile front:
- Mini Metro
- Super Mario Run
- Donut County
- What The Golf?
- Monument Valley
This is just a small sampling of some of the fantastic games you can find on your phone’s app store that showcase how great mobile gaming can actually be.
Jackbox Party Pack
This one is a little more creative, but an easy way for non-gamers/new gamers to get into a gaming community and have tons of fun interacting with others virtually. The Jackbox Party Pack is a series of game collections that allow everyone to play from their smart phone, tablet, or computer as long as someone has purchased the game on a game console, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or computer. Though, outside of purchasing the game yourself, you can hop on to one of the streaming services mentioned earlier and search for Jackbox and find other people streaming it and play along with them through your own device. At the bare minimum you can get a feel for what the game is and if it’s something you’d like to purchase and play with your own group who live in your household– or if you’re really interested, potentially set yourself to stream yourself and have viewers join you. But for the sake of this article and trying to show non-gamers/new gamers what they can do I would recommend searching for Jackbox on a streaming service and join in the fun that way.
Lastly, if you live in a household or are quarantined with someone who games feel free to ask them about it and see if they’d be willing to let you in on the fun. There’s a whole galaxy of worlds to inhabit while you’re stuck inside over the next few weeks.
Overall, there are plenty of ways to investigate what the gaming community can provide for you during these times of isolation and quarantine. There are small sections across the community filled with people who can be welcoming and help usher you into something that so many of us interact with on a daily basis. If you have anymore questions or are interested on what ways you could specifically get involved or not sure where to begin after reading this, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or join the official Pass The Controller Discord community to interact with all of us and our community. Please stay safe out there, please stay healthy. Hopefully you can find some community and comfort through video games. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up enjoying video games for years to come.
Like this article? Check out our weekly gaming and nerd culture show, The Pass The Controller Podcast, available on all major podcast platforms.
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