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Monday, April 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Social distancing? Online gaming is your best bet

UPDATED: Thu., March 26, 2020

An unexpected benefit of Washington state’s “stay home, stay safe” order is the extra time to reach out to loved ones and reconnect with family members and old friends. You won’t be inviting friends over to play traditional couch co-op games like “Super Smash Brothers” any time soon – but online gaming just became more appealing than ever.

It’s a pastime that unites people in unexpected ways. A couple of years back, I was a groomsman for a friend’s Utah wedding – a friend I met more than a decade ago in an indie online game titled “Bitfighter.” And thanks to online gaming, hardware incompatibility might cease to be a barrier – in recent years, several companies have committed to enabling cross-platform play. Do you, an Xbox One owner, want to play “Fortnite” with your cousin, a PlayStation 4 owner? No problem.

Perhaps the best game in this worrisome-yet-boring time is “Minecraft.” We all know it – a virtual-survival sandbox for all ages that is addictive, time-consuming and relaxing. Like virtual Legos, players build any structure or machine they can imagine.

It’s the bestselling video game of all time with 180 million units solid, and now the majority of those people can play and build together seamlessly across the internet on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch or even their smartphone.

If you consider sports games unimaginative, give “Rocket League” a try. It’s soccer but with rocket-propelled cars instead of people on their feet. It sounds preposterous, but the 2015 video game currently averages 40,000 concurrent players on the PC platform alone. “Rocket League” has a high-skill ceiling, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to newcomers thanks to game modes like “Rumble,” which gives players power-ups akin to “Mario Kart.” It can be played cross-platform on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

If you’ve ever considered trying online gaming, now is a better time than ever to try it.

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