A while back I wrote about how games can bring people together in a lot of different ways, and I mentioned hanging out with my sister and discussing video games over drinks. She’s 22, I’m 25, and we both love games. My brother (her twin) is also a gamer, and when the three of us get together it’s pretty much inevitable that we talk about what we’ve been playing lately. We all grew up gaming together, and despite our differences (my sister is going to med school, my brother is looking into bee-keeping, and I make comics), it’s something we can always count on to spark great conversations.
I think it’s fairly well established that games can help siblings bond. We’ve discussed it here, and here. In this video, lots of people said their favorite memories include playing video games with their siblings. Just as with any hobby or passion, a shared interest can be a great catalyst for friendship, and anyone who has brothers or sisters (or kids) knows that friendship amongst siblings isn’t always a given. A lot of games promote teamwork and cooperation, while others are just fun to watch. They offer a lot to discuss, since different kids might play the same game in different ways, and many games have rich story elements for kids to use their imaginations on.
But what about when we get older? The generation that gamed together as kids is now entering (or has already entered) adulthood. We’re moving away from each other, going to college, becoming professionals, getting married. Spending time together as adult siblings gets tougher as time goes on—I’m lucky that my brother and sister still live in the same city as I do, but that probably won’t always be the case. I think it’s safe to say that parents hope their children will always be close to one another, if not physically, then at least emotionally. In my family, games are one way for us to maintain that connection.
Co-op Isn’t Just For Families Who Live Together
MMOs like World of Warcraft and co-op games that can be played remotely like the Borderlands series are a great way to keep in touch with people you don’t see often. Instead of struggling through awkward phone calls where nobody can remember anything they’ve been doing that doesn’t involve sweatpants and Netflix, you can work on a task together. You can get the pleasantries out of the way while you gear up to take on a vampire nest or an evil corporation. The rest will usually come naturally. You’ll never have nothing to talk about, because at the very least somebody will be complaining that someone else is stealing their kills, which will probably lead to a discussion about Jessica at work who keeps taking your brother’s lunch, and then maybe a longer discussion about how worried you are about people plagiarizing your artwork. It takes the pressure off; you don’t have to try to make it seem like your life is together (even if it is together).
My brother and sister and I haven’t played games together on a regular basis since we were younger, though we’ve been discussing the idea of taking it back up for a while. We’ll probably pursue it in earnest if we ever move away from each other.
Playing the Same Games is Like Being in a Book Club
One of the reasons people like sharing books or television shows with one another is so we can talk about all the details together. Games are no different! Even when my siblings and I aren’t playing together, we tend to share recommendations for games we like. And when we do go out for coffee, we talk about those games. I love hearing their opinions on everything from graphics and voice acting to politics and diversity of characters. We discuss humor, history, war, mental illness, even dating—all within the context of video games, but of course also in our own lives.
There’s also a shared history that we can draw on to talk about these things, whether it’s having played the same games as kids or remembering the same family reunions. Games aren’t unique in this sense, by any means. But for my family, they’ve been constant.
I’m pretty confident that my siblings and I would be friendly with one another with or without video games, but we would probably have a lot less to talk about. And I’d certainly be more worried about the prospect of moving away—I know we’ll always have games as a common space to hang out, no matter how far away from each other we are.