Comment Editor Samuel Pennifold on how video games have helped him get through each lockdown in the last year.

As we inch towards the end of, hopefully, the final lockdown in the UK, looking back at the past year, there have been immeasurable lows, as well as a few highs. For me, one of the few solaces I found has been in video games.

Having slowly played less and less by the end of high school, the old Playstation 4 was starting to gather dust, only used for the occasional outdated Fifa session as a way to procrastinate reading or writing for an essay. Returning home to lockdown with little else to do days, became consumed with playing games, taking me back to my childhood.

There was one clear favourite, Call of Duty: Warzone. Many an hour was spent dropping into Verdansk with friends, talking, laughing and very occasionally winning. In a world where socialising became almost impossible, playing COD was the best way I had to connect with friends. 

I am now eternally grateful for that time I spent playing. Gaming, and COD especially, often gets a bad rep for having a toxic culture. NBA player Myers Leonard‘s recent use of a racial slur on a twitch stream shows this, but I have never felt this when I played. For me, in fact, I made new friends playing the game. On a typically damp and dismal Summer’s day in Northern England, I will never forget my friend Usman saying, “My mate Samin is going to jump on with us.” Samin, a fellow King’s student, is immensely more skilled than us and has now carried me to many a win as I look around to decide which gun is the best looking – look good, feel good, play good. Samin, me and everyone else in our squad have now talked about all manner of things into the midnight hours and for the first seven months of our friendship, I never even met him.

Returning to London has been the same story, for every government blunder and a new lockdown, there has always been a chance to escape for an hour or two playing Fifa with flatmates or COD. Even starting to play with random people from around the world has started to replace starting a conversation with a stranger at the Vault or Guy’s bar; ten minutes of intense friendship before never seeing that person again. 

For one of the most difficult periods, many of us will ever live through, Verdansk will always remain a special place with happy memories for me.

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