Last week I completed a game for the first time in months and it felt unbelievably good. You see, the past 12 months have been all about starts of things and not endings, picking up books and finding paper fragments used as bookmarks at page 5 months later, plentiful good ideas that I can’t seem to bring to fruition. Having chatted to SO many of you over these months has reminded me that I’m alone – we’re all struggling to do things.
Video games are where I’ve sought and found solace again. I’ve always been an avid gamer – back when I started my blog, I used to play MapleStory until 4am in the morning! Over the years though, I found that I rarely had time to devote to MapleStory or the story-led RPGs I loved so much. Where once they let my mind wander to other universes, I sensed myself wanting to ground myself a little, find roots in real life.
Using games for rest and work
Plugging hours away into a variety of games this past year or so has given my brain some rest and work in the ways I didn’t know I needed. Delving into Pokémon Shield instantly brought back the childhood nostalgia I get whenever I watch or play Pokémon. Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived at the perfect time for us all to escape to an island paradise of our own, and has been my comfort game for more than 12 years. Stardew Valley reminded me how to nurture relationships, even when I couldn’t see friends. And Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout – the game I mentioned at the start of this post – gave me milestones, quests and achievements to complete, and a story to uncover.
I’m the sort of person that adores a good ol’ cosy game. But you knew that already 😉 Whether that’s The Sims series, anything from the Animal Crossing franchise or an indie game like Old Man’s Journey, there’s something really quixotic for me in snuggling up beneath a blanket, turning up the tinkling music and immersing myself wholly in the best chill vibes.
If there’s one thing my life has missed over the last 13 months, it’s structure. You could argue that we’ve lived a forced routine of mundanity, confined in our home quarters, but there hasn’t been much by way of structure thanks to plentiful lockdowns and changing rules and restrictions.
Picking up my Nintendo Switch or opening up my laptop and plugging in my gaming mouse has created a faux structure that I’m entirely okay with. I’ve enjoyed nothing more than dipping into the familiarity of my comfort games or letting myself succumb to story-led RPGs where the stories are set, the outcomes unchangeable. Here I have main quests and side quests to strive towards, checking milestones that are, eventually, achievable rather than leaving fate to the hands of governments, authorities and algorithms. These days, those hours are sacred, a way of emulating structure and wholly calming my anxious mind.
How have you been finding comfort and structure lately? And, importantly, are there any games you’re playing that you’d recommend?