In times of trouble do you seek cozy or dystopian games?
Cozy and wholesome games have been a trend of late: it’s a common phenomenon that in time of social anxiety and stress people gravitate toward optimistic media. In its most literal sense it’s escapism, a form of digital hygge. When things are hard in the real world, we look for comfort in our movies and TV and games, somewhere to hide when we feel distressed and threatened. Games like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, the Sims, even Minecraft can be played as a cozy game if in creative mode. Something uplifting to do when the world around us feels like it’s dragging us down.
The flip side of this is dystopian games and media, which are everywhere. Do you want your dystopia to be nuclear (Fallout), out of control capitalism (Cyberpunk 2077, Outer Worlds), supernatural (Diablo 4), local thugs (Grand Theft Auto), international thugs (Just Cause), science-gone-bad futuristic (Half-Life, Portal), science-gone-bad steampunk (Bioshock, Dishonored), or fantasy (Horizon: Zero Dawn)? Throw in some biological hazards, or zombies — there’s something dreadful for everyone. Some days you just want to go blow up some internet demons rather than face the world.
Why do we choose games where everything went wrong? Where do we find comfort in that? Speculative fiction often splits radically between dystopian settings where the conflict that drives the story is social, political, and environmental (Star Wars, or Phillip K. Dick, or George Orwell for example), and aspirational post-scarcity utopias that accept the difference in everyone and embraces them (Star Trek or Iain M. Banks’ Culture setting as an example) and finds it’s conflicts either from outsiders or personal conflicts from individuals that don’t feel like they fit into these “perfect settings.” Writers like Asimov and Kim Stanley Robinson dance between the two, flitting between dystopia and utopia.
Does the world outside your door affect the types of games you chose to play? What games would you recommend to someone who feels like the world is too much?
Please consider supporting our Patreon!
Join the Discussion
Blizzard Watch is a safe space for all readers. By leaving comments on this site you agree to follow our commenting and community guidelines.