Over the past year, we’ve endured an ongoing global pandemic and a stressful social and political environment. Heck, the earth was even set ablaze for a few months in the Western U.S.
Needless to say, there was quite a bit of James 1: 2-4 going on. Trials? Check. Perseverance? Check.
So, how in the world do we find peace in 2021 while facing more of life’s largest stresses? A new-wave solution: video games.
Video games can calm us if we know just what makes for a calming game.
Now, the popular narrative is quick to dismiss the benefits of video games. It’s easy because there are thousands of studies relating gaming to violence, stress, and addiction. And there are only a handful of studies focusing on the merits of gaming. So, why risk it? You can find other uplifting tasks without compromising your mood and actions, right? Sure, but you don’t have to look past video games.
There are wildly entertaining, mood-enhancing, award-winning video games ready to destress your distress and enhance your day.
And the research to support this is aplenty, beginning with an East Carolina University study that posits casual video games can reduce stress. Games, especially those with nonviolent travel, puzzle completion, artful storylines, relaxing scores, and simple builds, can positively impact our brain waves. Translation: video games can calm us if we know just what makes for a calming game.
When we choose a video game, what are we seeking? Fun, for starters. But in many ways, that “fun” comes in the form of escapism, relaxation, or control. Interestingly enough, some employers even employers encourage games for post-work recovery. So, why not take a break from life’s challenging goals and express some creativity?
To help you know where to start, we’ve compiled a list of five video games that promote a peaceful disposition through their storytelling, artful worlds, simple building tasks, casual tones, and, yes, the absence of combat.
Journey (iOS, PC, PS3, PS4)
In this artful and visually arresting world, you meet anonymous players throughout the storyline with silent but meaningful connections. It conjures a sense of wonder that draws you into a peaceful state. The gameplay interaction with other users is non-threatening and noncompeting. Journey also eliminates pre-conceived biases that come with language barriers by communicating only with the sound of a chime. Journey‘s lonely desert, the score, and the ease of gameplay place the video game at the forefront of a peaceful 2021.
Abzû (PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC)
Following the peaceful and artful footprint set by Journey, Abzu sets the player in a beautiful and vast ocean environment. The game goes through discovery, interaction with marine life, collectibles, and a desire to restore the ocean’s balance. Even if you get attacked by a great white shark, the mild tension does not disrupt the peacefulness of this storyline.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch)
This real-time simulation game filled the giant 2020 social void for millions. Build your island as you see fit, then keep it private or invite friends to your island. AC:NH has drawn in well-known celebrity players such as Elijah Wood, Chrissy Teigen, and Brie Larson. Mark Hoppus even filmed himself playing Blink-182 songs to his son playing Animal Crossing. Word Peace Prize for New Horizon? Probably not, but strong consideration!
Think of Minecraft as digital Lego. Play this game however you choose. People are out there building Harry Potter worlds, Westeros, Middle Earth, and the Titanic. If you want complete peace and to avoid those “creepers,” you can opt-out of the “survival” mode and play “creation” mode.
The Witness (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, PC)
In The Witness, the player advances through completing puzzles on an island with natural and man-made structures. There’s no actual instruction on how to solve the puzzles, but the nature of the puzzling creates a casual gaming experience that enhance your mood.
So, stop fantasizing about the day video games will quit getting a bad rap. That day has come, and there’s so much we can take from video games and apply to our realities. Peace be with you.