I don’t know about you but I live alone, and during the pandemic I spent most of the time able to work from home. I am very fortunate to be in that position, but there were times when it was lonely. My work team spent a lot of time chatting to me on Teams or Zoom during the work day, but after work there was minimal things to do before I started getting really bored.

It is therefore not surprising that during this time I found the joys of online gaming. Some sites such as plays.org offer the opportunity to try out free, online games that you can play on your own to pass the time. Some of them are particularly enjoyable, and the platform offers a range of games whether you like thinking or word games such as Brain Words, you are more into things such as puzzles and therefore might like Puzzle Jigsaw, or whether you like games more like matching games and so might like Garden Match Saga. There really is something for everyone.

Not only are there games that you can play at home (or on the go on your mobile devices) on your own, but throughout the many lockdowns, I discovered the great community that there is in the gaming community. In the first lockdown I discovered Twitch. The great thing about Twitch is that there are always people online playing games and you can watch, take part in the chat, and sometimes even play along or take part in a community stream. I found that playing along with Geoguessr in a community or play along stream, or taking part in quizzes and online games nights was a particularly sociable experience during the times I was stuck at home.

It’s not just about playing or watching during the time you are logged into the site though, the community on social media sites such as Twitter and Discord meant I felt more connected with other people during a time when I was cut off physically from friends, family and coworkers. Whilst there will always be negative people, bullies and trolls, on the whole I have found the gaming community to be wonderful, and an absolute blessing.

I’ve played and watched games in genres and niches that I would never have done before so, and made some great friends.

If gaming on a budget is something that appeals to you, then look for free sites, but also check out the wide range of apps available for your mobile phone or devices. Quite often I would just take pleasure from playing free games on my phone in front of the TV (or during a meeting if we didn’t have to have cameras on). If consoles or PC gaming is more your thing, look out for pre-owned games at charity shops, car boot sales and online marketplaces such as Facebook, Shpock, Vinted and of course eBay.

Want something even more sociable now restrictions have been lifted, look online for local gaming or board games clubs.