The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a relatively new buzzword in our lexicons: Lockdown! At its easiest, this means trying to do what you do – but from the confines of your home. At its worst, a lockdown may cause you to go out of your mind with boredom. It could heighten a sense of social isolation. And it may even drive you to lose a sense of purpose in life. Thankfully, PS4 owners have a solution to that: Why not host or join a virtual tournament and stay engaged and active during your lockdown?
Gaming your way out of lockdown stress
But, before we tell you how you might game your way out of the “psychological mess” that lockdowns inflict on us, lets put some perspective around what that “mess” is all about. Once you understand the scale of the challenge, you’ll probably hug your PS console and use it as your way out.
Renowned medical and psychological publication, The Lancet, conducted an interesting study on the effects that COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines have on people’s mental, physical and psychological health. The results of the study are eye-opening. When shut-out from their group of friends and family, colleagues and the broader world, locked-down and quarantined individuals suffered a wide range of mental stress and related conditions, including:
- Irritability and anger
- low mood
- high stress
- emotional exhaustion
A significant number of individuals (more than 28% of the studied population) suffered from what’s known as “trauma-related mental health disorder”. So, if you wish to doge that bullet, then why not host a game tournament among fellow friends, family members and colleagues who are also under the same lockdown cloud as you are? You’ll stay connected. You’ll enjoy some great mental challenges. Best of all, your PS4 console will help you forget (at least for a little while!) that you’re locked down with nowhere to go!
Understanding hosting basics
Obviously, we’re not talking about hosting the Olympics or the World Series. We’re talking about a group of locked-down PS-loving individuals who just want to have some light fun and stay connected when locked down. Primarily though, while fun is high on your game-hosting agenda, mental acuity is key. Hosting and participating in these games keep you alert and sharpens your mind so you’ll maintain your A-game once the lockdown is over!
So, how do you go about organizing your lockdown PS tournament?
Well, let’s understand some of the basics first.
- Choose your games carefully
The thing about getting together a group of friends for fun, is that one person’s fun might be another’s bore! The game you might like might not be on your friend’s list of fun things to play when locked down. It’s a good idea, therefore, to put some thought into the games you’ll host (or share) with your friends.
So, what kinds of game are ideal for PS4 lockdown tournaments?
Well, as a virtual host to this PSN party, you pretty much get to decide which games make the cut. But because this is more fun than competition, here are some ground rules you can use to choose the games:
- Be a consensus builder: Reach out to all your intended invitees (more on that later!) to the gaming party. Suggest your titles, and ask them for their recommendations. By the time this exercise is over, you and your group of friends/colleagues will have a list of “tournament ready” games.
- Consider your role: Being a host is an honor – but it also means responsibility. As a moderator and host, you’ll likely have to jump in at key points during the tournament and make calls that may irk or disappoint fellow gamers (and friends!). Are you ready (and willing) to play that role?
- Think of the numbers: The number of participants will depend on the games you select. “Tournament ready” games don’t just include games everyone likes and enjoys. If you’re inviting 6 friends to join your group, make sure your game is at least a six-multiplayer game. 2-player games may spoil the fun.
And, while we’re talking numbers, remember that the greater the numbers the greater, and more complex, your role as a host gets. If you are uncomfortable moderating large groups of players, perhaps you should keep it small – at least initially. However, hosting larger gaming events (especially among friends) might sharpen your social interaction skills – an ability that’ll be much prized in the “real world” once the lockdown is over!
- Think about fun and excitement: The reason you’re forming this PSN gaming group together is because you are all bored mindless. And, what’s the cure for boredom? It’s fun, excitement and entertainment! So, that’s exactly what your PS4 game should deliver. Perhaps choose games with exciting themes – like exploration, battles or League sports? Or, to add some fun competitiveness to it all, play games that allow team versus team interaction?
- Think about acknowledging your players: Another aspect of fun and excitement is that, even though you are hosting friends, everyone likes rewards and acknowledgement for the time and effort they put in. It’s okay to invest hours and play a game that no one remembers anything about the next day. So, make sure there are points, scores, badges, leader boards, kills and other “rewards” involved in the game. That’ll keep all your invitees eager to return the next day!
- Remember – fun has its limits! It’s great that you are turning your PS4 consoles into a boredom-busting tool. However, sometimes, too much of a good thing is bad! Before playing host, make sure the games you choose won’t drag on endlessly (and sometimes, mindlessly!) forever. If they do, players will start tuning out…and the fun and excitement will start wearing off.
Some classic and contemporary “tournament approved” games include tried-and-tested titles such as Call of Duty, Mario Kart, FIFA, ESL, Guitar Hero, A Way Out, World War Z, Monster Hunter, Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo.
- Does everyone have what it takes?
Some games may be off-limits to some of your players. The game may require a PlayStation®Plus membership to join in and play together. Others might require all players to be on the same upgrade levels. Still others might only work best with sufficient internet bandwidth. As a host, it’s your duty to make sure everyone has what it takes to make this a success, so that all your friends enjoy your game party.
Get your act together
The ground rules all decided, it’s now time to fire up your PS console and put things into motion. PlayStation has a few ways that you can organize a group for fun. Which route you choose depends on how many friends you want to get together with, and what activities you wish to indulge in.
- Get your group together
You may want to start out by adding like-minded friends to your list. Go to the Friends menu and start searching for people you know would love to play with you (you’ll need to know their PSN Name). The friends list will show you all you need to know about them – their status and even their gaming activities
Use the “Add player” icon to add him/her to your list. No need to text, email or Zoom-chat to get their attention or send an invite. You can send them a request/message to join your lockdown fun right from the Friends screen.
If you are comfortable inviting people outside of your immediate friend’s circle, like someone you played with at another tournament, then you could initiate a Friend Request through their PSN profile. However, even though you are the host, gaming etiquette requires that you clear that intention with other members of your friends list.
- Play small
Organizing gaming events for more than a few friends might be stressful – and challenging – for some. Not in the mood to host a large event, but want to play with one other friend who – sob…sob… is also under lockdown miles away from you? Well, that’s cool too. PS4 has a feature called “Share Play” that’ll keep you and your friend playing your favorite PS titled games together – but apart!
How would you like it if that friend were able to come over, and the two of you could sit on a couch and play a game together? Well, the PS4 Share Play feature allows you and your friend to play/watch games together – just as though he/she were sitting on the couch beside you. The cool thing about this feature is that your friend doesn’t need to own or download the game.
Any interaction you might have had while playing in-person, face-to-face, you can now have online with Share Play. For example, if there’s a particularly difficult level of the game that the two of you have come to, you can virtually “hand over” control of the game to your friend anytime – like when you’re stuck in a tough challenge and want him/her to give it a shot.
- PS4 Party Time
The “Party” scene is one cool feature for PS4 users, especially when you find yourself lockdown at home with nowhere to go! Create a gaming party of your own, and invite friends to join. Or, if someone else has a party already going, you too can get a slice of the action.
The PlayStation4 “Play Together” feature is a great way to organize fun and games on the PSN. This feature allows you, as the host and moderator, to start games from your Party screen. You can then invite other guests, manually from within the game, to join in and play with you.
If this is the first time you’re hosting a PS4 party – don’t worry! There’s lots of help available on the PS4 support website on how to go about doing this.
- Put “fun” into fun time
Before kicking off, remember why you are here in the first place? It’s to have some lighthearted fun. And what good is a PS gaming party if there are no snacks and beverages. Make sure everyone has their favorite comfort foods (and drinks!) all lined up. Because, the last thing you need, when in the heat of battle, is for someone to call “time out” to do a coffee run (to the kitchen) or grab a bag of chips from the pantry.
Although you are under lockdown, and bored out of your mind, that doesn’t mean you throw caution out the window! Make sure you give some thought to your PS4 privacy settings before you host your tournament.
The Privacy Settings menu on the PS4 allows you to:
- prevent people (you don’t wish to interact with!) from sending you messages
- block friend requests from random players online
- restricts who can see your real name
- hides your activity from other friends
- …and a lot more!
Remember: You may need to type your email address and password at some point in time during this process. Have those ready and handy.
Also, because you playing host, you are (“technically” at least!) responsible for keeping your friends and fellow PS4 gamers safe. Insist that each of your invitees takes a second look at their privacy settings as well. After all – a secure and safe multiplayer gaming experience is only as safe and secure as the weakest security of any single member’s console!
Go for gold!
Of course, if you and your friends don’t want to go through the process of setting things up yourself, there are plenty of online venues that continually host tournaments and competitions. However, most of those are paid venues – and you’ll likely be playing with/against strangers that you know nothing about. And even if you wanted to join in the fun with your group of friends – it might be a rather expensive (one-time membership fees, tournament fees…and more!) way to while away your idle lockdown hours.
So, why not just do what the doctor ordered? Host a virtual tournament yourself, using your PS4 console, and start enjoying your way out of the COVID-related lockdown.