This isn’t the hottest of Hot Takes, but 2020 has been an absolute shit show on an apocalyptic level. Just to recap how the year has gone so far: Kobe Bryant is dead, police violence is roaring, racial tensions are boiling over, the world is fire, except in the parts where it’s flooding, we almost started World War 3, white supremacy is on the rise, our government is corrupt, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead.
Did we miss anything? Oh yeah! The global pandemic which our government is downplaying but has left over 900,000 people dead and the economy in ruins.
It would be incredibly easy to curl up into a fetal position and just rock back and forth until New Years Eve, ignoring all of the scary shit in the world. Unfortunately we don’t really have that option and despite those urges we must attempt to go about our lives as best as we can trying to keep our jobs, stay sane, and literally try and stay alive. It’s in dark times like this, more than any other time probably, that we need to hold on to the little things in life that give us joy. The seeming inconsequential normalcies of life in which we can take refuge for a little while to remember that everything isn’t awful all of the time.
Like video games.
Now, you would be forgiven for thinking “John, how the hell can you be thinking about games when the planet is dying and our liberties our being shredded like Watergate documents?” Well, I think that this is exactly the right time for me to be excited about video games. It seems like all we do these days is scroll through Twitter getting angry and scared at all of the awfulness in the news, we need to pull ourselves out of it and try to focus on the things that make us smile. Even if these little things don’t matter much on a grander scale, they’re the things that will keep us sane while we try and glue the world back together again.
Early on in the year, Animal Crossing: New Horizons came along right when the pandemic was beginning to intensify. People were scared and being told not to leave their homes, and that game gave us something to be happy about together. People who rarely played video games (or didn’t discuss it much publicly) were all of a sudden posting pictures and sharing stories of their shared joy over their cute little islands filled with cute little villagers. Celebrities, sports teams, even your Aunt Blanche in Fort Lauderdale, everyone was talking about Animal Crossing and it connected us and made the world just a little bit brighter.
And right now we’re in the midst of incredible hype over new consoles launching this November from Sony and Microsoft. People are excited for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X and there are a bunch of great games coming throughout the rest of the year. Miles Morales, Cyberpunk, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, and Watchdogs! Heck, I’m playing through the rerelease of Super Mario Sunshine right now and it’s wonderful! I love video games and being excited about gaming brings me so much joy. Playing a game at the end of the end is like a little bit of therapy to make me feel better.
So thank you video games, for letting me forget about the world outside of my family room walls for an hour or so each night. Thank you for letting me escape into a world not ravaged by a pandemic, and violence, and suffering (unless I’m playing The Last of Us). The PlayStation 5 isn’t going to solve global warming or put the restaurant industry back to work, but what it is going to do is put a smile on our faces for a little while. And that’s something that we haven’t done a whole lot of this year and shouldn’t be taken for granted.