#PlayApartTogether: Keeping occupied in Lockdown with Dirk Bosmans

Under lockdown, more people than ever are accessing games to stay connected, maintain their wellbeing, and keep entertained. To reflect the importance of games in this period Ukie will be interviewing key policy makers and industry leaders on what games they're playing during isolation, and recommendations for responsible play time.

This week, the Director of Operations for PEGI, Dirk Bosmans, tells us all about the games he and his family have been playing.

 

How are you keeping yourself (and/or your family) occupied in these times of self-isolation, physical and social distancing?

Being in self-isolation with my family has certainly not created time for new hobbies. The amount of work hasn’t really changed for me or for my wife. But we’ve been given the extra task of homeschooling two kids. Luckily, the youngest has just learned how to read and write, so she is happily doing her assignments right next to me in the morning. My son is 8 years and is basically learning the conventions of digital communication and social media, as that is the only way for him to keep in touch with schoolmates (they do schoolwork online in groups). Quite funny to see long conversation threads that exist almost entirely of ‘hello’, ‘LOL’ and turd emojis.

 

What games are you/your family playing in lockdown? Why these particular games?

I practice what I preach, so I play video games with my children. The best way to do this, especially with younger kids, is to look for games with co-op modes: beating opponents or reaching goals by playing together always creates a good vibe with them. Having video games as a hobby in common gives me a head start whenever we’re having the more difficult conversations: which games they are allowed to play (and which ones are not) and for how long they can play. And even then, these are never easy conversations, but that’s just how it is – there’s no rookie mode when bringing up kids ;)

Some long-time favourites: Rayman, Knight Squad, LEGO Star Wars, the occasional FIFA match, Roblox and Minecraft. Working for PEGI, do I always strictly apply PEGI age ratings? With younger kids, it’s still pretty easy to do – but there have been occasions where I let my son play a PEGI 12 video game, simply because I knew what the game was about and why the age rating was given. PEGI is always the benchmark on which I base my decision, whether I decide to follow it or not.

We also love to play board games: parcheesi, Uno, Kingdomino, and Pickomino are currently the kids’ favorites. I’m also a big fan of card games. Since the lockdown started, I’ve set up a regular weekly evening with three friends to play Colour Whist (a Belgian variety of the trick-taking card game) on whisthub.com. We set up a table, we open a video chat and a drink and we’re set for a highly enjoyable evening.

Do you play games alone or with others? If the latter, do you find they help keep you connected?

Personally, I love to compete against online opponents, but I rarely engage in conversation. Maybe it’s because I’ve been playing games since before social interaction was a thing in games. Although some banter can be enjoyable, it does not improve the gaming experience for me.

Could you recommend any games?

I truly enjoyed Lonely Mountains: Downhill recently. It was the perfect game for winding down after a busy day. In general, I aim to keep up with most genres by playing at least one seminal title from time to time. Even if turn-based strategy games are not your thing, you should still try your hand at one of the games from the Civilization series.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of FPS games, but I could not leave Doom unplayed, and I was stunned by how amazingly fun Crysis 2 and 3 were. I haven’t played a modern RPG in a long time, so I guess I’m going to give The Witcher 3 or Divinity: Original Sin 2 a run for its money.

What resources would you recommend to help parents and carers manage and monitor game play for their children?

In the UK, that’s obviously askaboutgames.com: it gathers all the relevant information for parents. We provide the PEGI age rating information via www.pegi.info but also through an app that is available for Android and iOS devices, and it includes links to the parental control tools of every game device and platform.

 

For further information on responsible game playing:
Get Smart About P.L.A.Y.