Play in Circle

Play in Circle

Moving from home to attend college is often an overwhelming and difficult experience for students. For many, beyond the academic concerns and responsibilities, the idea of making new friends and finding a community of support can be the most difficult part of going to university. And without them, university life can be more challenging.

Now imagine beginning university with all of those same concerns and a global pandemic that restricts movement and social interaction. For Vlad, a new student in the Ukraine, the necessary restrictions due to COVID-19 meant little to no in person interactions, which made finding a community of support almost impossible. But he was not discouraged from creating a different experience for himself and others, so he embraced what he was passionate about - gaming.

Vlad started PIC, Play in the Circle, an online global community that shares his love of games and organizes large scale Mafia tournaments. But the project really began with Vlad looking to have fun in quarantine when he and some friends played Mafia on Zoom. He quickly saw how fun it was to get together and play a game and wanted to figure out how to share this experience with others, at his university and maybe even beyond that.

Together with his friends, Vlad started PIC and was able to find a group of almost 200 people to join him in his passion. And with the support of Peace First, Vlad was able to afford a Zoom subscription that could help him expand his audience as he began thinking about how this project could evolve. With Peace First’s guidance, he’s looking to create workshops and content that can help illuminate how game playing like this can help improve mental health, especially as isolation through quarantine continues for many. “One of the main features that make our project unique is the fact that we form a community where we grow and learn from each other during the games. This is not just a playing platform, it is a place where you can feel free and to be heard by friends. A place that helps you to switch from the routine and to take care of your mental health spending time with cool people. Our project is a place of support and trust, we make sure that communication is friendly and healthy,” he says.

Vlad has also learned an incredible amount from this experience, as he explains “we think it's better not to say how our community has changed, but what we have learned from it.” With a growing community of 200 engaged members and players, Vlad is actively collaborating with them to expand PIC’s offerings of games, create international Mafia tournaments and continue to grow the community. He hopes to include an offline component once the pandemic is over.