As the majority of our social interaction with young people was virtual through platforms such as Zoom, telephone calls, WhatsApp and so on, the gap* has been exploring the possibility of online gaming. We were all missing the healthy competitiveness of the pool table, basket ball and air hockey games that the drop-in VENUE had to offer prior to lockdown. As well the natural conversations that would happen via those activities.
After some intense research we discovered online gaming and realised it could fill the gap until we could get back to ‘in person’ socialising. Thanks to the mega youth work partners at Urban Devotions Birmingham (UDB), Andrew, Laura and Joe were able to join the online gaming community to see what it's all about.
Firstly, the team had to actually learn how to ‘game’! Whilst Laura is still getting there, Andrew left us wondering whether he has secretly always been a gamer and Joe (being the pro that he is), needed little to no help, so he is there to let Laura know which button to press to ‘jump’.
So we came, consoles in hand, headsets positioned, and signed up to Fortnite (adults, ask your kids!), ready to be thrashed by a host of under 18’s!
The team at UDB were so accommodating and the young people have been a joy to game with. There was much laughter (a lot of laughter actually), and fruitful team discussions. The game involved us working in groups, against each other and as a whole team. The amazing thing was because we all had headsets with a microphone attached, even though we were all scattered around Birmingham, we connected through this game and could talk like we were all in the same room. During the gaming sessions you could feel the energy of the teams... especially when they were winning.
This format worked for a number of weeks, but then sadly UDB needed to move their gaming days. So the gap* felt it was time to go solo and start the venture ourselves. Games now take place every Monday evening with a small group, which we hope will steadily grow. We are soooo thankful for technology like this that helps support the youth work we do.
Now, when we get back into the VENUE drop-in, there is the danger that the youth workers will be hogging the X-Box and it seems pretty certain the team would be able to add ‘semi-pro gamer’ to their CVs.
Here's what two of our young people had to say:
Why do you game with us?
- because I enjoy it and it gives me something to look forward to.
- I do it because it's something to do and I like that it's a small group and we all know each other.
What is your favourite thing about gaming?
- I get to chat to people and make friends.
- I can drive on the game and I can't drive in real life.
Rate Laura and Joe's gaming out of 10...
- Laura 5/10 and Joe 9/10
-Laura 10/10 and Joe a million out of 10
What's is your favourite thing about the online game Fortnite?
- Hanging out with my mates.
- All the creative 'skins' the default person can wear... I've collected all of them.
How did you find out about gaming with The gap*?
- My mum told me to join because you guys told her about it.
- Zabrina told me when she visited me at school.