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Distraction Games: Why all of us need them

Distraction Games

As a gamer, sometimes playing specific games can be both rewarding and infuriating. In my case, that game is NBA 2K21. After a particularly rough few sessions, I decided to head back to one of my few distraction games in order to mellow out and normalize myself. 

But what are distraction games, and why are they important?

I’ve mentioned distraction games before. Simply put, they’re games you turn to when a particular game has you feeling some negative type of way. Case in point, my aforementioned experience with NBA 2K21

I want to preface this next section by stating I don’t particularly enjoy NBA 2K21: I feel the game’s meant for people who watch basketball rather than those who actually play and know the nuances of the actual sport, among other issues.

Nevertheless, I still play the game because I love everything about basketball, including playing with my friends, which has become impossible in the pandemic. We all play NBA 2K21 as a substitute, even if it’s flawed. 

Long story short, after a few rough games in The Rec, I was heated. My 3-point shooter couldn’t make a single basket, even on open looks! (THANKS 2K). However, it wasn’t the “throw my controller at the T.V.”- type rage — rather, I was seething. I was on Discord with some friends at the time, and they can attest to the quiet anger simmering inside me because of NBA 2K21. 

As a result, I resorted back to my distraction games: Yakuza: Kiwami, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War (BOCW) and Forza Horizon 4. Kiwami and BOCW were my first go-tos because, in the former, I could beat up random hooligans accosting women in the dark alleyways of Kamurocho, and in the latter, there were unlimited Zombies for me to destroy as I progressed through the Battle Pass to unlock Season Two’s new songs.

Distraction Games
Probably the most iconic car in any racing game. Courtesy of Playground Studios

Meanwhile, in Forza, I could zoom past NPCs in my silver BMW M3 in the English countryside, relaxing while listening to “Rapper’s Delight” or “Don’t Sweat the Technique” on the in-game radio. After playing these games, I felt infinitely better, though I’m still not playing NBA 2K21 any time soon. 

Had I not gone to play Kiwami, BOCW or Forza Horizon 4, I can almost guarantee that not only  would my night have been ruined, but the rest of the week would have been, too. Like all people, I have my fair share of good and bad days, and the good days can very quickly turn into bad ones. But having a selection of games I know I can turn to for a few hours to calm myself down and relax is incredibly beneficial to my mental health.

Distraction games are meant to calm you down so that you think rationally about why a game made you feel some type of way. While strolling through some of my distraction games, I deduced that the reason for my poor performances in The Rec weren’t my fault — instead, it was “2K Logic” playing against me. 

Distraction Games
A prime example of “2K Logic”: instead of going for an easy layup, the animation forces the player to get blocked. Courtesy of 2K

(Quick note: “2K Logic” has become a quasi-catchall term for when a 2K game does something that goes against conventional logic. I.E. when a 7-foot center decides to go for a layup instead of dunking the ball.)

It’s important to have distraction games at the ready because you never know what life – not just NBA 2K21 – can throw at you. Having a particularly rough day at work because of something someone said or did? Put on Animal Crossing: New Horizons or Pokemon when you can formally relax. Do you enjoy driving? Why not hop on Need For Speed: Heat or the aforementioned Forza Horizon 4?

Playing a distraction game can calm your mind and help you in ways you would never expect. So,next time you’re feeling some type of negative way because of a video game, try one out.

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