With the evenings starting to draw in, I am looking at different ways to spend my free time.

Unsurprisingly, the last few years have led to a massive increase in online gaming – a study by ofcom has shown that 62% of adults played online games during the pandemic.

Something I didn’t realise was how it could actually be a sociable thing – many younger people are choosing to play multi-player games with their friends, and using other social media platforms to discuss different games and different strategies.

It’s no wonder then, that it’s also been found that gaming has a positive effect on mental health and they have been shown to offer “an unparalleled creative experience”

I have previously made the mistake of thinking you need a console, or thinking that you need to be a really ‘serious’ gaming type (whatever that is!), but there are lots of online platforms and sites that allow you to access a whole host of games, from all different genres.

The best thing about some of these sites is that they’re free. So you can get involved without having to spend loads of money on games that you’re not sure you’ll like.

Plays.org has an amazing selection of free games, and allows you to set up a ‘my faves’ tab or choose ‘random play’ that is great if you’re feeling indecisive! My younger son has been playing on the virtual xylophone one, and the older one has found some maths ones he likes. I, meanwhile have been back in the nostalgic days of my teenage years playing arcade pinball!

Depending on how I’m feeling, I sometimes prefer more cognitive games, or card games. I still have fond memories of playing rummy and being taught solitarie by an elderly neighbour as a child. I also remember on early PCs, with their few loaded games – playing solitaire. Solitaire.org is unsuprisingly addictive, and has a fun selection of other ‘old school’ games! It also gives some nice clear instructions, in case you need to refresh yourself – or learn from scratch.

My son has also started to enjoy board games this summer. It’s been great fun teaching him, but like most children he often wants to carry on playing after I’ve run out of time and energy!

He’s been getting up to speed with playing online – https://www.calculators.org/games/board-games.php has been great for him – and he’s also enjoyed learning checkers and i’ve been pleased to see he’s been keeping up with school stuff with the maths games on their too. This crazy maths game is a particular favourite!

Whilst I’ve always found crosswords a bit frustrating, I remember when sudoku first came out, and finding them much more satisfying, as I actually had a chance of completing them! It’s become a nice distraction to have found some websites that have them to play free online – and this one also allows you to print them out too.

Studies have shown that the lockdown gaming trend is here to stay, so whether you’re getting nostalgic with old-school favourites, trying something new, or going for something educational, you’ve got tons of options!

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