Community During a Pandemic

Secret Garden Games is pleased to bring you another guest article from one of our collaborators: the Tanuki Society.

Community is essential, especially to gamers and even more so during a pandemic.

Everyone desires to be part of something bigger than themselves, part of a group. For the psychology nerds, it is derived from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For table-top gamers, we have traditionally found community as an intrinsic element tied to the pursuit of our hobbies. Whatever the reason for joining a hobby, you’ve benefited from the social and communal facets.

The restrictions and quarantine set in place keeping us from this exact sense of community is why this current once in a century pandemic has felt so harsh. We are unable to simply run down to our FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) for a pickup game. No Friday Night Magic. We haven’t been able to admire a friend’s freshly painted model. No trades or flipping through a friend’s trade binder. For the most part we’ve been stuck at home which severely limits our options to scratch that game itch.

If we cannot meet in person for gaming, what can we do? What else but to turn to the internet! Yet, trying to play games online is far from a suitable replacement. My Commander/EDH group is venturing into SpellTable but it’s not the same as sitting at an actual table. Online is helpful, but there is no chatter, catching up from the week or laughing amongst friends. To be able to see my opponent and the board simultaneously, my two-camera setup resembles a Rube Goldberg Machine.

There is one genre of games that seems to be the exception for this lack of social connection: a good ol’ fashion Role Playing Game. For those that haven’t ventured into the vast RPG universes, a role playing game is cooperative storytelling. Players take on the role of fictional characters in a story narrated by a Game Master. In normal times, an RPG group might even resemble a business meeting to the outsider so it’s a pretty easy adaptation in the era of zoom meetings and Google Hangouts. This type of genre is most easily transferred to the current pandemic times, as there is not a huge need to alter much to the foundation existing already. There are less physical requirements other than your imagination and readiness to download Zoom. Most games only require some books, dice, paper, and a pencil. The game master even benefits from being able to present reference material and pass along secret information without raising suspicion.

My group has been playing the Legend of The Five Rings RPG from Fantasy Flight Games for several weeks now and going strong in storyline, cooperation and catching up in social time. From firsthand experience, I’ll say it has gone a long way to alleviate a sense of isolation. The standard table banter is still present which just is not a consideration in many other online game platforms during these times. If you have been missing socialization with your gamer friends, I highly suggest diving into the RPG world and choosing an adventure with your group. To be able to set a consistent time to visually see and interact with your friends is not only rewarding, but an event to look forward to and feel supported by your people.

If you are hesitant to take my word for it, have a quick look at how these games are being used as a form of social therapy!

Everyone can benefit from some healthy escapism, especially right now. [My group is looking forward to exploring the world of Bukana when that releases] (feel free to remove the hard shil)l

Play Online- Browser Based  

Spell Table- Magic The Gathering

War Table- Warmachine/Hordes, Judgement, GuildBall

Sun And Moon- Legend of The Five Rings CCG

The Iron Throne- A Game of Thrones LCG 2.0

Play Online- Download

Vassal- Open Source Module Based

Table Top Simulator- Module Simulator

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