Isolation Station (Feature)

Updated: Feb 19

Or: How I learned to stop being productive and love gaming

Even people living under a rock are painfully aware of the circumstances the world has found itself in. I am not going to discuss what has happened to life as we know it, but what I do hope to impart are a few gaming-related ideas that may help you and yours get through this challenging time. Once all this started I knew it was going to be an advantageous time to be a gamer, having amassed a back-catalogue that has been gathering dust and missing so many releases, I can’t even begin to count them. After a few days it became clear that this wasn’t going to go away any time soon, so I set out to mark myself a few gaming objectives. A few of these goals have been met, while a few have yet to be started or are currently in progress. The most important thing is that there is a target set, right?

Pick a series and run with it

I started playing the Pokémon series a few weeks back to complete a few of the games I had bought but never progressed too far into. This has now evolved (heh) into me playing an entry from each generation in the franchise - Barring Sword & Shield as a Nintendo Switch is like gold dust these days and I am not a wealthy man. Regardless, this set a milestone for me and each game along the way is something checked off the list, while bestowing some much needed nostalgia upon me, all the while having a definitive end point as well. The main thing is to make sure that it is doable - There is no point in choosing to play, say every single Dragon Quest game, you’ll just end up frustrating yourself when you begin to feel as though you’re not making enough progress.

The dreaded back catalogue

We all have one, don’t lie! We’re all guilty of piling up games with the best of intentions of completing them, to then never play them or give up on them quickly. I think the worst I have ever been in this regard was with Red Dead Redemption 2. I bought it at full price at launch and cyclically played it every 6 months or so for a week, until I finally bit the bullet and finished it up just two weeks ago. I was absolutely delighted I finished it up, as it is a masterpiece top to bottom. The lesson here is that there is a reason you acquired the games in your back catalogue in the first place, you want to play them. I know as well as anyone else, your taste is going to shift over time depending on what you have recently played. If you take a dive into something that has been long gestating in your catalogue that you may not feel too bothered with, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. More recently I’ve started to play Horizon: Zero Dawn after putting it off since the GOTY edition came out. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and even a little bit annoyed at myself for ever thinking “eh maybe later” the past year or two I’ve had it. As paradoxical as it is to say, take a chance on something you know you’ll love! Or…

Play outside of your norm

I endeavour to do this quite soon. You may have seen my poll recently on the Casual Game Community on Facebook, where I was asking for suggestions as to what I can play that is something a little different for me, and it looks like it’s going to be a horror game for me. I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the genre, as a big fan of the Dead Space series, I am however a complete scaredy-cat and coward when it comes to the genre in any medium. Alien: Isolation looks to be what I’m going to run with for my fright fest as it has come recommended and I’m a fan of (most) of the movies. But who knows, maybe I’ll find something I love about this class of game, that has been absent from my gaming life. Or at the very least have the s**t scared out of me so I feel alive, either way it’s a win! The point is that for those who have a bit more time on their hands, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from getting out of that comfort zone, even just for a few hours.

Want some suggestions as to what you can try out that is outside your usual bubble? Drop a post on the Casual Game Community Facebook page, and we’d be delighted to help out!

Play together, apart

I’ll be the first to admit, I am not the biggest fan of multiplayer games. I much prefer solo experiences that I can be absorbed into, to escape this hellish place we inhabit beautiful existence. But at this juncture multiplayer can offer a bonding experience with your friends and family that is otherwise going to be very difficult to come by. Be it shooting the bad guys in Warzone with the lads or smashing up goblins with an unwieldy giant hammer that emits fire with your brother in Torchlight II, it really doesn’t matter - The real objective is to connect with people. Sure some may find it a challenge to adjust to using video and voice calling, but once you acclimate to this method of communication, there is valuable human connection to be found. That and it becomes much easier to accuse your friends of not being a team player (you know who you are). So spare a few hours every once and a while to catch up with those who are important to, play something together. While most people don’t have much in the way of news these days, you can still check in and kill some bad guys together.

Pure, unadulterated escapism

A significant portion of modern releases boast open worlds. This can give way to exhaustion under normal circumstances, where fans don’t have the time to invest and long for something more straightforward and linear. Oh how the times change. This presents an opportunity in the current context however for complete immersion into another world. As mentioned earlier I’m currently getting stuck into Horizon: Zero Dawn and with it’s huge map I expect to be lost in it for a few weeks. The Witcher, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, GTA, Red Dead Redemption, need I go on? There is no better time than the present to get sucked into one of these huge environments. By design, this genre presents players with collectibles, side missions, and a whole host of additional content like no other, and I’ve yet to even mention DLC. Not only that, it’s common to find some of the best character development, soundtracks and design you will see in the industry as a whole. So get that Witcher Wiki open, and clear the next month of your life, because there is 200 hours of being a badass, sword-wielding monster hunter ahead of you!

Take a break

As great and wonderful as gaming is, like anything else, too much of it can be a bad thing. I have found through the years that playing too much consistently can lead to what is meant to be a fun pastime becoming a chore. Between adventures remember to stop for a breather to help renew your passion for it. This is relevant especially after completing something that you’ve invested a lot in, it’s easy to feel adrift after an unforgettable experience.

Do you have any other suggestions I may have missed above? Feel free to comment below with your isolation gaming tips!

Image 1 taken from Red Dead Redemption 2 press kit here

Image 2 taken from Dead Space press kit here

Image 3 taken from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt press kit here

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