It’s April of 2020, and due to the Covid-19 virus, every day seems to take a different shape than the day before. However, one thing that has remained consistent has been staying home indoors given the global climate.
Video games serve many purposes: entertainment, distraction, escapism, and others. While games could previously act as a form of escape from the everyday, possibly mundane life cycle, now video games are a medium to inject some sort of normalcy to escape from what is happening outdoors.
Games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons are an overdose of sunshine, where players spend time in a virtual village, talking to villagers of their town, building their homes, and collecting all fruit in sight to pay off house loans from a friendly raccoon. Animal Crossing is a game with no endgoal; it can be played at any pace and there is no correct way to play. It’s a game that can be played for a few minutes at a time, or for hours, and the experiences are equally as enjoyable.
While I have found myself playing a lot of Animal Crossing, I’ve been experiencing great satisfaction with different game experiences to recapture a form of normalcy. Sports games have created a level of comfort and quiet experience that may have been taken for granted, in a sense. Games like ‘Everybody’s Golf’ for Playstation 4 and ‘Top Player’s Golf’ for NeoGeo are simple golf games on the surface. While they may not stand out as the most exciting on a normal day, they teleport the player into a world of ‘normal’ and a glimpse of what life is like on a random Monday when everything is just okay. The serene views of a giant, perfectly cut field of grass on the water with a cool breeze blowing is a relaxing image that can help ease the mind, if only for an evening. In a time like now, that’s just what I need. A sense that things are capable of being okay.
The same can be said for virtual board games and trivia games. Games that recapture a sense of togetherness, even if its though a screen, are essential now more than ever. Games I’ve never thought of playing in the past such as Words With Friends and trivia games now populate my devices, forging real connections and moments maintained by replicating playing a board game at a table with loved ones. Although not everyone is at the same table with one-another, these games are a fantastic way to imitate an intimate game night with others, even if it’s not quite the real-deal.
This isn’t to say that complete fantasy escapes aren’t enjoyable right now. Games like Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Pokemon, and other games like Bioshock are a total escape to a foreign world, and are vastly enjoyable as well. Exploring the underground city of Rapture in Bioshock is a welcome change of pace when spending so much time inside the same four walls for the forseeable future.
With many many people staying indoors for a prolonged period of time, I feel remote experiences with others and a connection to the ‘normal’ world are important to maintain. Video games can be one of the ways that we share and enjoy these experiences from the comfort of our homes. Now please just let this whole thing be over so we can go outside again.