Things are pretty scary right now, and it is okay to be scared. Video games, though, show the best in humanity and are a good distraction.
These are difficult times, and I don't blame you if you have been glued to your television screens this week. We have all been sitting around for the last two years due to Covid-19 and now, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, things are looking increasingly fearful. The thing is, though, that there are ways to keep those feelings in check - namely, video games. These little plastic buttons, these little silicon and copper machines, are a way for us to cool down, stay safe, and keep our minds working even while things around us are driving us absolutely crazy.
You see, it's the social bonds that we can maintain through games, the mental exercises and games that we can play, that keep our senses intact and our faculties functioning. Without going into the details of what's been going on with Covid-19 (we're a video game website, not the New York Times, of course), one experience has been very common amongst all of us. Every person on this big great ball we can home has felt some form of isolation over the last two years. Video games bring us together, they let us play together - "playing" is something that everyone needs to do once in a while - and break through that feeling of isolation.
Whether you live abroad or just two streets away from your family, friends and loved ones, the constant lockdowns and restrictions have effected us all. From California to Sydney to Beijing to Bangkok, any way of easily communicating with one another is a blessing. Video Games take that communication and turn it on its head, though, because they are so much more than just a simple WhatsApp group. When playing a game with someone you are not passively having a distanced conversation, but actively engaging in an activity.
The laughs and the tears that ensue are incredibly healthy for us, they're incredibly relieving for us, and they're something that are greatly underappreciated at the moment. Loneliness is not just about the act of being alone, but the reality of having very little to no meaningful interactions with other human beings. Video Games give us those meanings, whether that is from stealing cars in Grand Theft Auto 5, chilling with your mates in Animal Crossing, or taking out a perfectly timed assault in Rainbow Six Siege.
Then there's the anxiety, and I am sure that you all know what I am talking about there. Well, Video Games are our savior from that as well. No matter where we are in the world and no matter our situations, gaming can bring us together as a community that is strong, inclusive, friendly, and loving. I know, I know, you're all going to say something about how Reddit is an absolute cesspool, and you'd be right, it is. Not everywhere is, though, and if you find a good group (hey, join EarlyGame's discord, we're great!) then you will find an incredible amount of love and support right there at your fingertips.
There are also the many unbelievable games out there that seek to make a difference as well. This War of Mine, a 2014 Indie game from Polish Developers 11 Bit Studios is a perfect example. Here is a game that tackles the crushing loneliness and despair of a civilian population during an unnamed war. It's shocking and incredibly scary, but incredibly impactful and certainly a must-play for anyone who wants something a little more meaningful to get your brain working a little bit more when you're playing. Also check out Papers Please or even the Metro games for very similar reasons.
My point, though, is that despite everything that is going on, everyone needs to look after themselves. Find an avenue to deal with that Covid-induced loneliness, and find ways to deal with the anxiety and fear that has come from this week's news. Things are not desperate, and things will be okay. An article in The Conversation back at the start of the pandemic in 2020 got it totally right when it claimed that video games' ability to "provide spaces for people to get together and stay connected" is "especially important now, when people may be feeling increasingly isolated, lonely and anxious".
So stick together, you beautiful specimens, look after yourselves and each others, keep gaming, keep reading and keep yourselves informed. Just remember that in that quest to stay up to date, in that quest to know what's going on, you must not lose sight of yourself and your needs. It's okay to be selfish once in a while, to switch off. So go and pick up a controller this weekend and play some Elden Ring, dive into Warzone, League of Legends, or whatever floats your boat. Don't feel guilty, feel proud that you made one of the most difficult choices someone can make: to look after yourself.
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