When you’re stuck inside there’s always a risk of getting bored or falling into bad habits. Right now we’re lucky to have a brand new Animal Crossing game to keep us busy, but there are certain things your body and mind need to stay happy while you are isolated. Your body needs to move around, your brain needs stimulation, and you need to feel connected. I’m going to give suggestions on how to keep things fresh and stay off the hook. This is purely from a gaming perspective. Of course you can exercise and read books as well, but if you’re here then there’s a good chance that gaming is a rewarding part of your life. Instead of getting burnt out, this could be a great time to get even more joy out of it.
Play games you actually like!
Seems like a no-brainer, I know. However I often observe people grinding a meaningless score or playing a game because it’s cool or socially relevant, while losing track of your own personal interests. If you aren’t enjoying the actual gameplay of something… there’s probably better stuff you could be playing. If you’re playing a game because it’s free, on Game Pass, or because you “need to finish the backlog“, you can just drop it. Nothing bad will happen.
I just finished Resident Evil 3 and loved it, I was mega hyped because RE is one of my favourite series. Now I’m immersed in the lore of Raccoon City and Umbrella Corp, and excited to look into RE1 and RE2 again, and replay RE3 with different difficulties and find the last few documents. This is genuine excitement because I just need to know more, need to see more. Find games like this to play instead of something that puts you in a bad mood. Animal Crossing is an exciting game to me right now as well, as the town slowly develops into something huge and more things become available.
I also got Doom 64 recently instead of the much hyped Doom Eternal, because I’m really fascinated by classic Doom games. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a brand new hyped release, but sometimes an old classic or obscure Indie game could excite you more. Feed your soul and not your consumer ego, because that’s your choice. Only you know what you like. This applies to other things in life too. If you’re doing something you are truly interested in, you’ll never get bored.
Spread the love
Games are more social than ever and some can give us a chance to connect. That means a game doesn’t always have to be about you, but your teammates or friends. Many studies done on depression show that people feel the worst when they focus too much on themselves. Instead of getting too self-absorbed which is very tempting to do in isolation, think about how your actions affect others.
I’ll give some examples, in Ring Fit Adventure you can send people reps which gives them EXP in Adventure Mode. It’s not really going to do much for progress, but it’s a nice feeling when you get a gift from somebody. You feel like a tangible part of the game’s community. Another example is Animal Crossing, instead of just farming bells for yourself you can open your gate or visit other people’s towns and say hi. Give them a gift if you want, or send them a letter. Mario Maker is another good one. If you liked someone’s Mario Maker level, then leave a comment about an aspect you liked. Another example is a random online game like Resident Evil Resistance or Splatoon 2. If you have a great game with randoms, say thank you, give a Booyah, or use whatever creative gesture is in the game.
I’m gonna be honest though, there’s nothing I love more than tuning out the world, and sinking into an immersive single player game. Even with those however, I enjoy sharing pics or impressions of the game later, either on Twitter or a post on this site. Social media can make you feel lonely or overwhelmed, but it’s also a chance to connect and contribute.
Feed your brain
Don’t become a zombie, quite the opposite. You want to become a good meal for a zombie! Mmmm, delicious brain juice. Om nom nom.
Even if you’re just playing one single game at a time like Animal Crossing, it’s important to make sure each day is a bit different so you don’t get into a monotonous rhythm. Animal Crossing is such a great game for this because something different is happening every hour, with new music, weather, villagers walking around, friends visiting. I’ve heard this game described as a happiness simulator before, and it’s not far from the truth. It naturally guides you into doing rewarding things that bring positive change. The one thing I would say it’s lacking is challenge, however you can still look at your town as a “creative” challenge to get around this. You can try to make your own town tune, or custom design. It might suck at first but it’ll be fun to try it. It can be fun to imagine your trees being organised differently, or where you can put ominous objects. Doing something slightly outside the box and unconventional can keep you engaged.
I personally get bored sometimes without a direct skill-based challenge, so I like to still play the occasional Splatoon 2 rotation, racing game or speedrun attempt just to stay sharp. I find this personal zen sometimes when I put myself in challenging situations that require focus to get out of. It could be a hard challenge in an action game, a new 2D platformer, a 40 lap racing game, or a speedrun of a classic. All of these situations force you to be hopeful and focused. I did a writeup a few years ago on the benefits of speedrunning. It’s not for everyone of course, just an option.
Something like Brain Training or a puzzle game could also be a nice kickstart for your brain. Rhythm games are also amazing because they are not only stimulating, but they can really lift your mood with good music. Look for a new challenge in one of your favourite genres or game series.
Let’s all take some inspiration from the Koroks. Some of them have been hiding for years, but they still come out smiling. They know that one day someone is gonna lift up their rock. There’s nothing to worry about. We’re all gonna get through this eventually.
I’ll conclude by offering my thoughts on “social isolation”. Some people are going to love it, some are going to hate it. If you’re hating it, you can turn it into an opportunity to analyse yourself and find out what habits are dragging you down. Think about how the games you’re playing are making you feel. How social media is making you feel. This is a golden time for reflection. Nothing in this writeup is definitive, and nothing will apply to everyone. The main message is that you are important, and everything you like is important.
If you’re struggling or just want to share something, feel free to leave a comment here and tell us what you’re playing. I also recommend seeking out gaming podcasts (personal suggestions, Pietriots Radio and 8-4 Play), finding like-minded gamers on Twitch to watch, or even writing and streaming yourself. There is so much to do, so much to see, so much to play, and so much to look forward to.