Mental Health Awareness Month

Roundtable: Socializing Distantly

In this Gen Con TV roundtable conversation, Derek Guder is joined by Adam Davis and Adam Johns of Game to Grow, Dr. Rachel Kowert of Take This, and Hawke Robinson of RPG Research to discuss the repercussions of isolation during quarantine circumstances and ways of maintaining social interaction during social distancing.

As part of our ongoing series of posts for Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re revisiting this Gen Con TV roundtable discussion with experts who work at the intersection of gaming and mental health.

As our expert guests point out, this is a really hard time, and even though that may seem obvious, it’s important to give yourself space to feel that. We’re facing a collective existential crisis, faced with mortality in a really immediate way, and it’s OK to be afraid and to feel grief. Experiencing these feelings is difficult, especially in conditions of social distance, but in facing them together and learning new coping strategies, we can emerge with greater resilience.

Check in with yourself and schedule your time with intention

A theme that came up repeatedly during the discussion is the importance of assessing your personal social needs and reflecting on your experiences to understand how they affect you. Are you more introverted or extroverted? How do different types of social interactions affect you personally? What are the spaces in your life that used to be filled with social interaction, like unscheduled conversations with coworkers, and how can you intentionally schedule time now to replace them?

After watching a show on Netflix, listening to a podcast, or gaming, take a minute to reflect on how the experience made you feel emotionally, and use that information to help you make choices about what kinds of media you engage with.

Being “alone together” has value

Unstructured time to feel each other’s presence is valuable. Even if you have nothing new to say, being on a video call with a friend or loved one can make you feel connected.

Do you and your partner or roommate play different video games? Sit in the same room while you do it! Parallel play is a valid and beneficial form of social activity.

“Waving at the mailman”

Physical distance doesn’t necessarily mean social isolation. There are lots of ways to maintain social connection from a distance, from scheduling time to call your friends, to taking your regular D&D campaign online, to putting your favorite podcast on in the background while you do the dishes.

And, as Adam Davis suggests, wave at the mailman! Seriously, being a mail carrier is such an important job, and expressing recognition and gratitude to people around you, even if you don’t know them, makes you feel more connected.

Join us live on Twitch this Friday at 3:30 pm (PT) for a follow-up discussion about mental health during quarantine, and check out Games as Tools for Mental Health, our recent guest blog post written by Dr. Kowert and her colleague Dr. Raffael Boccamazzo.