There were several of days when my mom would nag that I was wasting my life in fake worlds, and now, technically she’s wrong. Besides being isolated in my room, my favorite video games have prepared me for the coronavirus in ways that a mother would never imagine. This is some validation for my fellow gamers!
Grand Theft Auto
GTA is infamously known for its rated M classification, but it’s one of the video games that is associated with positively educating its players. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Are you saying we should commit armed robbery and mass violence in this crisis? Hell no, unless you want to spend quarantine in prison! I’m referring to the online gameplay when you have a bounty on your head, especially a high-priced one. You’ll stayed holed up in your apartment or condo until it expires, quarantining yourself to stay alive and collect the reward.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing with the COVID-19 lockdowns. In game, I have my character trying on outfits from the closet, occasionally showering, listening to music, and watching the chaos of the city from the windows or on the news. Sound familiar? Of course, we don’t have a set timer for when our bounty will be lifted, but staying busy and entertained is the key to making time fly by. If you don’t have Tik Tok, go ahead get it while we’re fully inspired and have too much free time.
Photo courtesy of IG: @lilmoomoo_gta
Gotta catch them all? More like gotta catch what you can. With the panic shoppers, it’s hard to catch any toiletries, cleaning supplies, or nonperishable food items. Common household items have become just as difficult as shiny hunting, if not harder. To capture these rare pocket monsters, you have to grind for hours finding the normal version of the creature over and over again. These days, you’ll be lucky if you can even find a single roll of toilet paper on the shelf, and even if you do, there may be the chance you have to defend it and stand your ground.
The main difference is necessity versus luxurious bragging rights, but you get where I’m going. Pokémon video games teach the importance of patience. Shiny hunting prepares gamers for strategic hunting while patiently grinding. If you really want it, you’ll try hard for it, and the joy of finally getting it is worth the wait.
This post-apocalyptic series is a simulation about what life would be like after a nuclear war. Your character was sheltered in a vault and now has to deal with the radioactive changes of the flora and fauna and mutated or ruthless humans. Minus the radiation, we are experiencing a health fallout. Venturing outside for groceries feels like a voyage outside the vault, weary of all the risks out to get you. Between the Rad Ratchets having their extended, out-of-town spring break and the current contagion, everyone and everything is a potential threat.
In this radiated setting, the barter system and scavenging are necessary for survival. Cash is called “Pre-War Money,” and aluminum bottle caps are the main currency. The same is happening to our paper money. We’re becoming so afraid of any type of contact that cash is repulsive, like stripper sweat and cocaine isn’t lacing already! When scavenging corpses and collecting caps doesn’t work, trading with random peddlers and friendly civilians. Toilet paper and loaves of bread are hard to come by, but my apartment community is trading and sharing with each other.
Photo courtesy of IG: @yourmomgames
Another beloved simulation is one of the building-survival video games. Schools across the nation have used this game to demonstrate the effects of deforestation and the spatial reasoning of architecture. And it’s also teaching us about the grind of quarantine. One hour in the cubic world is 50 seconds; one day is 20 minutes; and one month is 10 hours. I have un-shamefully played 18 hours straight in real life and forgot to eat lunch and dinner just to have the perfect fortress. It turns out that patience is a virtue I do have.
Doing the same thing hours is so easy to do in Minecraft, mandatory even. Whether you are chopping trees for lumber or mining for diamond, this game shows us just how important multitasking is. While I’m cooking food or melting precious metals, I let the oven do its thing while I reorganize or mine for more supplies. I’m also doing this in real life, cleaning up my little apartment while my cooking skills are leveling up. And I could really kill for thirty sheets of toilet paper in exchange for an emerald.
Besides practicing my charisma in the mirror, my favorite game has taught me how to guestimate my mental health. You know that green diamond on each Sim’s head (the Plumbob); I apply it to all my day-to-day decisions. It makes you aware of the little nuances life like washing your hands boosts hygiene and each conversation has a negative or positive on relationships with others. This was one of the first video games that really helped me through the social awkwardness of middle school and apparently adulting.
The fun meter is one factor that is more important than you think. If you played this game before, then you understand the pain of trying to get a bored Sim to do chores or homework. It’s damn near impossible! Two weeks into quarantine and I get where the Sim is coming from. I’m getting a lot of spring cleaning done, but lately I feel uninspired with my creative writing and class assignments. For the first time, I actually have to schedule when to play to stay sane.
Back when I was growing up, educational games like Leap Frog were on the rise, and my parents invested in them for my little brother and me. The Jumpstart series catered to children in grades K-12, and my absolute favorite was and still is Jumpstart 1st Grade, with 3rd grade being worthy runner up. Before distance learning, this program was the virtual classroom. Each learning center in the classroom and part of the school had a fun, educational game with some type of points or trophy awarded in the end. With the COVID-19 lockdown, students have to learn from home.
My college has currently switched to fully online courses, which is a blessing and a curse. However, the same is not reflected in the K-12 public school system. The kids are expected to complete their school year at home on physical paper. The school system plans to email packets to the students. Why not have assignments through Google Drive? They already have school assigned Gmail accounts. The packets could be reserved for students without internet connection. I am prepared to pass my newly online class because I’ve done it before. They could at least assign them Ted Talks or something more relevant to their generation.
If you’re a fellow gamer, let me know what video games taught you life skills. Leave me a mini paragraph in the comments below!
Featured image source: Scopio
Ex-wannabe teacher turned copywriter and social media guru = Tarrah Sargeant. I have a BA in English, and I am currently wrapping up my MA in Communications with a concentration in marketing communication. As an avid people watcher, I like to give my perspective through logic, analogies, and unusual situations. So if you like humor, video games, food, creativity, and normalized weirdness, you have found the right one! For more extroverted introvertedness, follow me @throneofwheels .