Online Games: My Way of Staying Connected with Friends and Family

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by Halsey Blocher |

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Like me, you’ve probably had far fewer face-to-face interactions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no longer safe to have company over, and we can’t meet friends or family members for lunch. I’ve been unable to gather with my friends at Turnstone for over a month.

These types of activities are especially unsafe for those in the SMA community or other high-risk populations. But I’m the kind of person who tends to thrive on socialization, so I’ve had to get creative about maintaining my relationships while waiting for the pandemic to end.

People have been turning to technology to stay in touch with loved ones — and not only to talk, text, and video chat. They’re using it to play games.

Recently, I had the privilege of hosting the first-ever game day at BioNews Services, the publisher of this site! My younger brother has downloaded several games on his Nintendo Switch that can be played with people in distant locations by logging into a certain website, which allows everyone to participate.

I thought some of these games would be fun to play with colleagues, and my brother offered to let me borrow the Switch for an afternoon. He also helped set the game up for us, and made sure the controller was within my limited reach.

We opted to try a goofy, light-hearted game called Role Models, and set up a Zoom call so we could chat while we played. My boss managed to win both rounds. He’s been proudly shouting his victory from the rooftops. Beginner’s luck, I say. (Although it doesn’t hurt to let the boss win on occasion.)

I was glad to join with several wonderful friends. We’re looking forward to laughing together soon during another game day.

One fantastic friend is helping me relearn how to play a beloved classic — chess. I learned as a kid, but it’s been several years since my skills were last put to the test. I used my cellphone to create an account on and we played a few matches. As it turns out, I’m pretty rusty.

My friend has been teaching me new strategies and sending me tips on how to improve. I’m trying my best to pay attention and be a good student, in the hope of beating him someday. Even if I don’t end up winning, it feels good to give my brain a challenge. It’s also fun to connect over a game he loves.

Normally, my family spends quite a bit of time with my grandma. She often comes with us to the movie theater, meets us for coffee, and eats dinner at our house. Grandma also joins us to compete in many of the games we enjoy playing together. It’s becoming strange not to have her around so much.

My mom reminded me that Facebook has a variety of games available, so I decided to challenge Grandma to a game of Words with Friends. We ended up spending much of an afternoon finding out who could think of the most clever words worth the largest number of points. It’s not a substitute for actually seeing my grandma (her greeting kisses are dearly missed), but it is far better than not spending time with her at all.

I think we are all looking forward to the day when we can get together with people again. In the meantime, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities we have to stay connect with our loved ones.

How are you staying connected with your loved ones right now? Are you utilizing technology, or have you found other ways to stay in touch? Tell us about it in the comments below!


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.



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