Gaming, Venue

Keep Calm and Game

While gaming has increasingly been associated with the competitive eSports scene, there are still many people who play games primarily for fun and to relax. But what makes a game relaxing? Does it come down to a lack of direction or ‘hand-holding’ so the player has free reign to do as they please? Or is it simple gameplay mechanics that don’t confuse or complicate? Some games are specifically designed to be played casually, whilst others just happen to be perfect for it. Here’s some of the best.

Some people might be familiar with idle games, especially now we have so much time on our hands. These are games which require little focus and are low-effort experiences, but can be highly addicting. My favourite of these is ‘Clicker Heroes’, a game where you click to gain gold which you use to upgrade your heroes to do damage automatically for you. Sounds boring? Give it a go. You might be surprised.

Walking simulators are another genre that might be relaxing to some, requiring lower concentration than your ordinary title, but perhaps still offering some productive value in the form of a strong narrative. These include ‘Everybody Goes to Rapture’ and ‘The Stanley Parable’, two games in first-person where you interact with your environment in order to generate the narrative. These titles are acclaimed for their writing and player interactivity, so they are definitely worth a try.

One of my personal favourite games is ‘Stardew Valley’. For those who don’t know, it’s a life sim where you are the new owner of your grandfather’s seaside farm. You spend your days farming, fishing, mining and fraternising. The game does have clear goals in the form of quests and a community centre where you donate items to repair it, but ultimately it can be played at your own pace.

Another great series is the ‘Animal Crossing’ series, which has recently celebrated the release of its newest iteration, ‘New Horizons’. Similar to Stardew Valley, it is a life sim game, which focuses on similar things. However, one major difference is its connection to real-life time, so if you play at midnight it will be midnight in the game. This means that buildings will take time to be constructed, so if you play most days it will always feel like Christmas morning when you wake up.

A game I discovered recently is ‘Everything’, and so far it’s been a strangely relaxing experience. You may inhabit a grand number of things throughout the universe, from a rock to the cosmos itself, and move around their environment, all whilst interacting with thought bubbles which, if you are lucky, will replay great philosophical seminars by Alan Watts. The game teaches that we are all one and the same, and is a humbling experience. The gameplay mechanics are unique as well, and the auto-play feature plays the game for you if you leave it alone, letting you simply watch and listen.

So, there we have some of my favourite games to relax to. Hopefully these might help spice up your inside life, and slow the spread of boredom.

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James Ward