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Gaming during lockdown – some thoughts and recommendations

“This is completely unprecedented, so we gotta take advantage of the times. I doubt we will have another opportunity to do this.”

This is me talking to my three friends on Discord as we were making waves through the Snowrunner campaign. If there was one silver lining in last year’s pandemic, the work from home shift gave me more time to spend finishing my Steam backlog. In the past, long single player RPG’s would be the thing. Huge thanks to games like Deus Ex, Witcher 3, Dying Light, and the Yakuza series for keeping me company throughout the years. I didn’t have a lot of time to play back then as Manila traffic automatically took away at least 3 hours of my time daily.

But now I am home. I get up early. Do my daily Genshin Impact quests and finish off the resin before 9AM. I get the kids on to home school and then get some work done after. In the evenings I’m with my friends online. Some days it’s Valheim. Other times it’s Rainbow Six Siege. There’s also Deep Rock Galactic. Snowrunner. Warframe. Path of Exile and Diablo. So yeah it’s been an interesting and unprecedented 12 months (and counting). My gaming DNA has changed. But I also realize that my 2 hours twice a week of social gaming is also catharsis. It’s a head fake for checking up on everyone — a bi-weekly pit stop. A sanity break. (P.S. — we also record a monthly podcast called Tander Chats. Do check it out!)

When home school started I really wanted to make sure my eldest knew his way around the computer. That summer I allowed him to use my gaming laptop — a neat little ACER Nitro 5. I told him to migrate his Fortnite sessions to the mouse and keyboard (he previously played on the Switch). Call it a proud moment for a PC gamer to have his son pick it up. “Dad this is so much better!”

Playing video games was my way of keeping him comfortable around the PC. It helped him type better. It helped him get really comfy with the mouse. I taught him how to open and close apps on the browser. Logging in. Passwords. PS — if you’re a parent you can link up Google Chrome to Family Link. It allows you to control his browsing time. It also removes YouTube in preference for TY Kids.

Now, I was looking for a site where I could play simple browser-based games with the kids. They definitely have too much phone time so something on the desktop to help them with their fine motor skills would be great. I chanced upon plays.org and was really surprised because it brought back the nostalgia of me as a young adult enjoying flash-based browser games on New Grounds and Kongregate (I’m definitely showing my age). What stood out for me — this site is a passion project. Plays.org just lets you… well.. play. No ads. No monetization. It’s just really some guy who spends his free time making simple web games. I quote from the about page:

No Ads & No Ad Retargeting Crap

We use Clicky web analytics to track our website performance to see where our site is discussed around the web and how popular various games are so we can create and publish more games similar to the most popular games. We do not serve ads on our site nor retarget users across the web.

It’s literally some (famous) dude’s passion project who wants to remain anonymous.

“This website is funded through savings from operating other websites. The founder of this site once worked for some of the largest web companies including the biggest ecommerce player and what was at the time the biggest web portal. This site is more of a passion project than a business of any sort and was created as an attempt to create the site I wanted to exist as an end user of the web. The founder of this site could simply retire at this point, but this site was created as a way to use what they know to create something fun and to make some aspects of their work day a bit less boring than it otherwise would be, while believing they were making the web just a tiny bit better – especially for those who can not afford video games and are often stuck playing mobile apps optimized to frustrating users into buying upgrades or accidentally clicking ads.”

Again, I would let my kids spend their time here discovering new games (you can even send suggestions) because, as a parent, I know they aren’t being tracked or tricked to click on stuff that will open a Google Play store wallet.

Dude this is hilarious

As for the games? They’re quite decent. “Elon Tweets” (LOL) is a skinned version of Memory with cryptocurrency logos (I swear this guy is low key hilarious). Among Rescue is obviously a non-copyright infringement friendly pin puzzle game. You know, I’ve always seen games like this as misleading Facebook ads and now I actually get to play the real deal. It’s really fun — finished the 30 levels in 10 minutes!

Among Rescue is a puzzle-pin game that’s fun and relatively easy for kids to play!

So yeah guys. The pandemic has been rough. Many are starting to get vaccinated here in Manila. But it looks like home school will still be a thing for 1 more year. If you’re going to get your kids on to the computer, I highly suggest bonding through gaming (because it’s fun for dad too!). I’ve joined in a couple of Fortnite games with the kids but when they’re alone, I have Family Link on and let them explore sites like Plays.org because I know they’re not being tracked!

Anyway that’s for today’s missive. Stay safe and sound everyone.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

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