For the millions of people largely stuck indoors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, finding ways to pass the time is half the battle. But what to do if you've binge-watched all the shows on your list, got sick of doing puzzles and you can't stomach yet another classic sports rebroadcast? Video games are here to help. Not only are they a great way to stay entertained, they can also be an excellent group activity, whether you're playing "locally" on the couch with your immediate family, or online with friends to spend quality time together while social distancing. If you've been thinking about getting into gaming as a new hobby, here are some tips on getting started, as well as some game suggestions.
Helping his seven-year-old daughter Romy set up the Nintendo Switch she got for Christmas, Paul Cliff managed to get himself hooked on Animal Crossing. "I've somehow played over 600 hours on it since January," says Paul, 56, of the life simulation game where villagers carry out daily activities such as gardening, furniture arrangement and gathering fruits. "I love the collecting in it, it's so gentle and oddly rewarding," he says, recalling an afternoon spent fishing together when Romy finally caught the Stringfish she'd been trying to catch for ages. "She couldn't wait to show me. We've been amazed at each other's achievements and creativity. I've found it an immersive and relaxing experience. I love my wee island, it's a wonderful escape from what's going on outside our four walls."
To play video games is to know the frustration of having dear friends and loved ones who don't share the same enthusiasm for your hobby. Sure, your non-gaming bestie may never sit down for a rousing two hours of Call of Duty or Fortnite hijinx, but video games come in all shapes and sizes. You just have to choose wisely. The trick is to ease people in. For someone who's never played a modern video game, even the act of holding a standard twin-thumbstick controller can be confusing.
It has been 469 days since covid-19 cut us off from our colleagues. We've now logged more than 11,256 hours at home, but we've been far from idle. The past year-plus bathed the nation in stress and suffering, a number of us enduring it alone. And as we've self-isolated in our homes, separated by walls and miles from colleagues, friends and family, the distance strained the bonds that unite us and the calm that keeps us sane. As we observed and reported on a year embroiled by racial injustice, marred by an assault on Democracy and the deaths of 593,000 Americans from covid-19, it felt impossible to look away. Lest we be overwhelmed, it was also imperative that, from time to time, we did. For a number of us, video games provided a refuge, proxy worlds to inhabit while ours was unsuitable for life as we knew it. Instead of grabbing beers at a bar, friends paired up in multiplayer lobbies. They donned headsets and delivered life updates in disembodied voices, along with descriptions of which players looked a little "sus." Vacations were scrapped and replaced with byte-sized getaways to war-torn battlefields and post-apocalyptic hellscapes that somehow instilled serenity.