10 Jan Avoid loneliness and increase social interaction with the games you play
When was the last time you sat around a table with your family or friends and got stuck into playing a simple game that was full of laughter and stress-free conversation? Games help us to break away from isolation and encourage time well spent with others.
Christmas and New Year is just around the corner and it’s a hectic time for many of us. Are you organised or still in frenzy? If you’re still in education you’re bound to be looking forward to time away from the classroom.
Holidays, extended time off and weekends or evenings offer quality time to kick back and enjoy the company of those close to you. And what better way to do this than to play a traditional game?
“Play invites participation.” Brian Goodwin
Increase social interaction with the games you play
Playing games has been on my mind this week for three reasons.
- Christmas is almost here and it’s an ideal opportunity to play games because you have some downtime
- You may receive gaming presents at Christmas rather than traditional board games and although you might be playing these with friends you disappear into your own world, sometimes for hours at a time, away from parents and siblings. And we do want to see you, you know!
- Last weekend I attended the Werrington Young Person’s Support Group Christmas Party and games were plentiful – Werrington is where I live and volunteer at the youth group
Christmas and New Year can be a time when people feel isolated. It might be because they are on their own or feel disconnected from the people and world around them. Do you ever feel like this? If you’re a gamer and you lock yourself away playing combat or comic games you might still feel lonely because, believe it or not, you crave a level of social interaction even if you prefer your own company. Keeping social contact levels topped up will help to avoid loneliness and improve your communication skills.
“As much as we complain about other people, there is nothing worse for mental health than a social desert.”
Playing games is exciting
Let me tell you very quickly about the Werrington Young Person’s Support Group Christmas Party. It was a fun festive event organised for the kids in the village to see Santa, make crackers, enjoy party food and play traditional games like pass the parcel and musical chairs or statues. I’m in my element at this type of event – I love a bowl of sweet red jelly, a spot of festive dancing and socialising with all ages. It’s great fun. This year I had volunteered to host a game of ‘higher and lower’ and if you’re a bigger kid or a parent reading this then you might remember the TV show Play your cards right, ‘nice to see you, to see you – nice!’ with Bruce Forsyth! It’s such a simple game where you have to guess whether the next card in the pack is lower or higher than the previous. Simple but such good fun and there’s always a prize for getting it right.
I was shocked at how many children wanted to play the game. They all loved it and kept coming back for more. When I spied my chance to make a break and dash to the kitchen to grab a coffee and gobble down my red jelly I still had three kids peering through the serving hatch asking when I was coming back!
Even the parents were amazed at how enthralled their children were with the game. One father laughed and commented: ‘how cheap will Christmas be if all I need to do is buy a pack of cards to keep everyone entertained?’ It’s true, the most unassuming things always create fun and anticipation.
“We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” Benjamin Franklin
Participation and company is fun
The moral of the story here is that you don’t have to have expensive hobbies and the latest gadget to feel happy. Interaction with family or like-minded friends and a common ground is all you need to have fun and let your guard down. Christmas especially is a time for family and friends to wind down and get to know each other better – or again! Games allow you to get a little competitive, a bit jovial, but importantly they enable you to relax and enjoy life in the moment. Appreciating things in the moment is something many of us have forgotten to do in our hectic and technological world.
Games to play
I’ve compiled a list of cheap or free games for you to try out with family and friends. None are computer related, they’re just good old-fashioned games designed to induce amusement and good-natured interaction. Some games you might be able to borrow from older family members, find secondhand sets on eBay for a few pounds, or some you can gather bits and bobs together for no cost.
Give each game a score out of ten for their fun factor, ease and expense.
- Pin the Tail on the Donkey
- Pass the Parcel – be sure to include sweets and chocolates between the paper as a surprise
- Musical Chairs or Statues
- Charades – buy a box set of ideas or jot ideas of films, music, foods, celebrities and pop them into a hat or bag
- Bingo – how good are you at your bingo call of legs eleven, snakes alive 55? Download the whole list and become an expert!
- Simon Says
- Happy Families
- Uno – there are plenty of card games including Higher or Lower
- Monopoly – I dare you to play this although you might need to set aside a few hours! There are kids’ versions and quirky versions that will take less time to play out
- Twister – don’t stretch yourself too far, you don’t want torn muscles!
- Memory games – grab an armful of random items to remember
- Noughts and Crosses
- Tic, Tak Toe
- Who wants to be a Millionaire – go for the board game
- Pass the Pigs
- Who’s in the Bag?
- Beat the Parents
- Guess Who
- Greedy Granny
- Trivial Pursuits
- Tiddly Winks
- Connect 4
- Snakes and Ladders
- Yes and No
- Would you Rather
- Karaoke – if you vocal chords are up to it
To name but a few. Phew! This list covers most of the classics and still the best in my eyes. Games don’t have to cost a fortune and they will give you hours of fun, laughter and relaxation.
The act of playing games will bring you closer to those around you and make you feel part of a close-knit family or group of friends. Think of games as memory creators and be mindful of the fun in the moment. Eliminate other thoughts and stresses from your mind and focus on the pleasure of social interaction. It’ll bring you a positive state of mind and it should be easy with little effort or pressure – you may need to set the ground rules though! You don’t want a strop from a sibling to spoil the fun J
“Life is more fun if you play games.” Roald Dahl
Choose the life you want to lead
I hope you’ve been inspired by the thought of playing games or talking about it has brought back pleasant memories. Put ideas together and plan some games to play this Christmas. Why not surprise your mum and dad, brothers and sisters, and plan time to spend together? Of course you can play your computer games after but do make an effort to devote quality time in the real world first – your family (and you) will be thankful for it I guarantee.
What else do you play? Can you share your other games with us on the podcast, blog and social media? What makes you laugh uncontrollably? Please do leave us a positive review on iTunes, Spotify, Google or social media too so that more people can learn and develop from the ideas we discuss.
Until next time, have fun gaming in the real world.