If you’ve ever said, “Social gaming isn’t for me,” you’re missing out on hours of opportunities to strengthen your existing relationships, talk with loved ones, and form new friendships. There are games that are specifically designed for social interaction. These often offer easy controls to encourage people of all skill levels to play together. So, whether it’s on your computer, on a gaming console, or on your phone, there are games out there for everyone.
Growing Bolder co-hosts Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer recently demonstrated the fun and social benefits of gaming when they connected virtually with a New York-based livestreamer and tabletop game designer named Mike Lavoie, who goes by MeatSim9 on Twitch, the No. 1 streaming website. The trio discussed how playing a game together can strengthen our bonds.
“It gives you something to converse about,” Lavoie said. “It gives you a context for having a conversation that probably goes off the rails, and you talk about lots of other things, too. But it helps just give you that commonality very quickly of, ‘We’re going through this experience together,’ so we’ve established this baseline, and now we can go off on all sorts of tangents.”
For a livestreamer such as Lavoie, who has made countless friendships through gaming, it is worth the time to find the right game to suit one’s passions.
“Nintendo is something I grew up with,” Lavoie said. “My older brothers had the original Nintendo console, and it was something that we always did together growing up, playing different video games. [With] the amount of games in the Nintendo library, there’s just something for everyone. I think that’s one of the big things that people think about games: ‘Oh, video games aren’t for me; board games aren’t for me.’
“There’s something for everyone,” Lavoie explained. “There’s just so many of them that it’s just a matter of finding out which one is for you. Games have given me so much my whole life, like different friendships, people I would’ve never met if they weren’t also interested in games.”
While live on Twitch, the Growing Bolder team and Lavoie played “Overcooked 2,” a cooperative game on the Nintendo Switch where all players work together as short-order cooks trying to prepare meals in a chaotic kitchen. While laughing at one of his mistakes in the game, Shafer asked a question that many people may struggle with when it comes to getting started in gaming.
“Mike, was it frustrating for you to play with us?” Shafer said.
“Not at all,” Lavoie responded. “Honestly, it’s really fun playing with people experiencing a game for the first time because I get enjoyment out of seeing you improve. Everyone starts somewhere.”
Lavoie said, “The first time I played this game, someone else told me, ‘Hey, this game’s really fun,’ and I’m like, ‘What the heck? I’m supposed to do the dishes and cut the lettuce? I don’t know what’s going on.’
But it isn’t long before attitudes change, Lavoie said.
“Over time, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh this is so fun!,’ he said. “And getting to see other people improve is part of the fun.”
Social gaming is for everyone. No matter what your skill level is, or your age, anyone can game. The Growing Bolder team showed this firsthand when they learned a new game together, having a blast in a virtual kitchen alongside a new friend.
“Low socialization is more harmful to our health than smoking, alcoholism or obesity. Research has proven that,” said Middleton, the CEO and founder of Growing Bolder. “But here we are, four guys hanging out and having a good time. You know, I laughed more in the last 5 minutes than I have in the last 5 days, so thank you for that!”