Out of the multitude of games that are created and released to the gaming community, there are certain games that grab our attention with such force that they become, essentially, cultural icons within gaming culture. A lot of different factors play into the reason why certain games become so popular, such as excellent marketing, exceptional accessibility, and a high level of user-friendliness. While factors like these certainly play a role in the success or failure of games, the greatest factor by far is how these exemplary, outperforming games allow the gamer to escape the real world and relax in a virtual setting that helps them forget their worldly problems for an hour, or three, or seven at a time.
We’ve all been there: you’re sitting down at your computer after work, just wanting to unwind for a bit before dinner and everything else the evening brings, and before you even realize it, you’re sucked into your favorite game. It rings true across the gaming community: video games are one of the easiest ways to spend an exorbitant amount of time having fun with little or no expectations of productivity. At first, when you hear the phrase ‘low productivity,’ you might think it’s not such a great thing, since productivity is often the end goal of so many things that we do. But that ‘low productivity’ standard is actually what makes video games, particularly the games that have become such icons over the years. There aren’t many activities you can do these days that don’t have to lead to a tangible result, and video games give an outlet to relax and enjoy yourself without feeling like you have to be pushing yourself any more than you naturally want to. In order to beat the next boss, or catch the next Pokemon, all you have to do is relax.
One of the most popular games in this category of exceptional icons of the gaming industry is World of Warcraft. The combination of fantasy elements, role play, and a never-ending world to explore make WoW one of the best games to play if you want to forget the world for hours at a time. I have whittled away many hours playing WoW running around completing quests or even just exploring the areas and enjoying the beautiful world that the game creators made. And according to Statista.com, I am far from alone. In a survey reviewing WoW players from 2013, Statista “found that 28 percent of World of Warcraft players who were surveyed stated that on average, they played for more than 30 hours a week.” WoW is certainly one of the greatest games to play if you want to escape your troubles for any length of time.
Another game in this category is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This game gained a lot of traction over this past summer of 2020, particularly with the global lockdown keeping everyone on their couches for weeks on end. In the midst of a global panic, Animal Crossing gave people an easy-going place to visit when they simply couldn’t handle any more bad news. Having played it myself, I can say with confidence that it truly is a delightful game, and I have definitely spent several full days curled up on the couch keeping busy by building a little purple-roofed house, catching butterflies and fish, and picking up lots of weeds and grasses to sell. This new chapter in Animal Crossing came at a time when the world needed it most, and it has proved itself to be a game that gives us all a peaceful place to disappear into whenever the world becomes too much. Henry Korotky, a reviewer for the game, may have said it best: “The game has provided all of us an enormous amount of happiness that comes with virtual peace in a current world where peace isn’t exactly front and center.”
If all else fails, there’s always the series of Mario games. Every game in that group is guaranteed to relieve stress and provide hours of bliss. Some of my favorite group gaming memories are Mario Party parties, where myself and a group of friends would gather to enjoy time together, some good food, and time spent playing in matches together. The Super Mario series has been providing joy and a release from the pressures of the daily world for gamers since 1981, when Mario first appeared in Donkey Kong. With over 200 games to choose from, it’s always a good choice if you need to escape for a while.
These three games are just a few titles that have transported us to different worlds and helped us forget our worries for a little while, and if you’re looking for a game to help you escape, these are all great options, Whatever game you choose, you’re sure to find that gaming is one of the best ways to find peace of mind in a world so often pushing for productivity.