The last time I was unemployed was in the depths of the Great Recession. I had recently moved in with my girlfriend, who suddenly found herself with an out-of-work partner who rarely left the house. But she gave me some surprising advice: Play video games.
I would have a lot of time on my hands, she said, and while I could and should certainly do other things — housework, exercise, searching for a job — I would mostly be stuck at home with limited resources. Without something to occupy my mind, I’d go crazy.
She was right. Playing video games helped ease my mind, my mood and possibly our relationship. This year we’ll celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.
So now I’m going to give the same advice to anyone who is now out of work, or otherwise kept at home: Play video games. And don’t feel bad about it.
If you’re not a gamer, you might think of video games as simple time-wasters. But for those stuck mostly inside without work, killing time is a real problem. And in the world of big-budget console games, 10 to 15 hours is a fairly short experience. Some can take hundreds of hours to complete. There are online games designed to be played and replayed for thousands of hours.
But games are more than just empty time-wasters. In periods of pain, boredom or personal emptiness, video games can serve as palliative care for both the body and the mind.
And for those who not satisfied with our current quasi-apocalypse, there even games about viral outbreaks and attacks, from the strategic epidemic simulator Plague Inc., to the deftly scripted post-pandemic action game The Last of Us, to The Division 2, a military thriller set in emptied-out recreations of downtown Washington and New York after a viral bioweapon wipes out most of the population. Maybe that one hits a little too close to home.
Yes, games are frivolous. Yes, they are escapist. But the longer the coronavirus keeps social life and culture in isolation, the more we’ll need frivolity and escapism.
The longer the coronavirus keeps social life and culture in isolation, the more we’ll need frivolity and escapism.