2020 Gratitude: Video Games


A conversation of the things that I’m thankful for in 2020 – especially in terms of video games – would be incomplete without a mention of Among Us. In a very sentimental and cheesy way, the rise of Among Us marked a new “era” of my quarantine, as lots of aspects of my quarantine changed when we started playing.

Most importantly, I re-connected with old friends and started using Discord, which helped me stay connected with them in new ways. It was also nice to use voice chat with them, which feels even more “real” and genuine than the text messaging that we had fallen into after Zoom fatigue set in (and not having to look video chat-ready is a big plus too!).

After getting into the game, I also started watching lots of YouTube videos and Twitch streams of other people playing. I’ll admit that I never understood the appeal of streaming before this, but I can now happily sit through hours of watching total strangers on the internet yell at each other – imagine that! I’ve also started talking to my friends about these streams as well, bringing everything full circle.

I had a solid months-long love affair with playing Among Us that has recently died down due to falling in love with a new game (see below), but I’m still forever thankful to InnerSloth for making an incredibly simply, yet incredibly fun game, that injected a lot of life back into my tired self-isolation.

Beautiful! (image from nme.com)

I actually started playing less Among Us when I started playing more Genshin Impact, which is considerably more time-consuming but, in many ways, a lot more deep and gratifying!

While I loved Among Us for its relatively simple and multiplayer gameplay, Genshin is the exact opposite, with lush, detailed graphics and extremely strategy-heavy, single-player gameplay. I watched a few streams (again, something I never thought I would do before quarantine) and decided to give it a shot, and became engrossed in the world for several weeks.

For me, a lot of the appeal lay simply in exploring the sprawling landscapes in the game. I watched one stream where they gushed, “Do you see all of those cliffs? All of that land? I could just fly out and go to any of it!” – and I was sold! Though I had played a bit of Breath of the Wild back when it came out, I never dedicated the time that I should have to it, so seeing a new version! free-to-play! felt like a chance to redeem myself.

I’ll admit that a lot of the gameplay goes over my head – I refuse to drop any money on the game, get sick of grinding pretty quickly, and my characters and weapons are definitely not as optimized as they could be – but I still enjoy it nonetheless!

Like Among Us, I’m starting to get fatigued from playing this game almost every day, but I still enjoy jumping back in every once in a while, especially as new updates (read: quests! characters!) get pushed out.

image from channel3000.com

Though I had never played the first Paper Mario game, I had heard nothing but good things from many people, including my boyfriend. When it came out this summer, it seemed like a good excuse to play the game together as a shared quarantine experience.

I was quickly drawn in by the game’s cute art style and clever, often laugh-out-loud, dialogue. Though the normal battles only got challenging near the end, and were pretty easy to figure out for most of the game, we got a lot of satisfaction out of figuring out tough boss battles and random puzzles, like hunting for toads, together.

Paper Mario ended up being an unexpectedly wonderful surprise from this year. My boyfriend and I probably would not have shared if we were both busy living our normal, busy lives, but this year was no ordinary year. This game allowed us to transform our usual, boring nighttime couch hangs into moment for teamwork and memories – and I’ll be forever grateful for that!

Isolation Tool Kit: Animal Crossing

My Animal Crossing journey began on December 24, 2002, when I received a GameCube for Christmas (packed in a beer box, hidden behind cans of beer, which I still maintain is one of my favorite gifts, ever). I remember plugging it in for the first time, hearing the disc spin, and stepping off the train into my snowy village for the very first time.

I don’t remember much about that first village – it was 18! years ago, after all. I remember people leaving comic books at each other’s houses, perhaps? The only memory that stands out is my one cranky pig villager, Boris, who was one of my least favorite villagers at first, but we grew to appreciate each other over time. (The opposite of real life! ha)

Since then, I dabbled in Wild World and City Folk, but neither of them grabbed my attention in the same way that the original did. Maybe it was where I was in my life – I had a lot more time to dedicate to video games at 10 years old than any point afterwards, really – or maybe they didn’t live up to the same initial hype. I stayed connected to the community through social media (read: memes), but didn’t itch to pay off my loans or complete my museum, like I did before.

When I heard that a new Animal Crossing game was coming out – on the day after my 27th birthday! – I was ecstatic! I finally had free time to dedicate to the game, and had purposely planned months in advance to celebrate my birthday by catching fish and expanding my house. Little did I know that it would be the only way for me to celebrate!

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