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COLUMN: Video games to play while quarantined



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A student plays Minecraft inside during isolation. Sarah Zygmuntowski

Being stuck at home for endless days with nothing to do outside of online assignments and video games doesn’t necessarily sound like the worst thing in the world. Because of our newfound reality, here are some titles to hold you over until you are able to interact with groups of other humans again.

This is not an exhaustive list of the best games to wait out a pandemic— that would just be a list of “Plague Inc.” knockoffs. Rather, these are suggestions of games to fill up your time over the rest of the online semester. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim is the easiest recommendation for anyone who has either come into a surprisingly large amount of free time or has never played an RPG before. The main story takes about 31 and-a-half hours to get through, not counting the many side-quests and storylines that litter the fantasy world. Take yourself to a place where you can cut skeletons in half, learn magic and steal from a humble shopkeeper by putting a basket over their head.

This game is readily available on any platform of any generation, and I recommend downloading some mods to add even more features to keep you occupied.

Stardew Valley

For people who are not as into hardcore fantasy, or have an aversion to third- or first-person games, there is the more casual, but highly addictive, option in "Stardew Valley." This game is also a farming simulation, so for those looking for the simple life (before the germs invaded), this game may be for you. “Stardew Valley” is also multiplayer and has digital contact, as opposed to physical contact that spreads germs. You can also interact with non-player characters and go through the motions of inheriting your in-game grandfather's farm and building it back up from degradation.

Sims

Sims has a weird place in popular culture. It is one of the oldest and most popular simulation games and is a favorite for those not paying attention in lecture. But now, lectures are canceled, so play to your heart's content without the threat of being called out for being on your computer in class.

There is no limit to what you can do in this game. Create your dream home with your dream family and live out a suburban fantasy, or create a love triangle with your neighbor, have your wife kill your lover and watch the fallout. I could spend two weeks just designing my home in this game, so I’d imagine quarantine should be a breeze for anyone that picks up this title.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Now it's time to recommend a social simulation, so you can simulate interactions with people other than your roommates or your parents in this trying time. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the newest entry of the Nintendo classic, comes out for the Switch on March 20. Anyone with $60 and an affinity for anthropomorphic woodland creatures should consider this an instant buy and play to relieve stress. Become the mayor of a town and make friends with the NPCs, do some odd jobs and watch the hours fall away.

Minecraft

For people who have forgotten this game existed, welcome back to this eternal time-waster. The open world, survival, sandbox game has been running strong since 2011 and has much to offer for people looking to play alone in their own world or visit a server and interact with other people. The block-centered game will have you mining for diamonds, crafting armor, trading with villagers or visiting hell depending on how you want to live your life (in-game, because in real life you are under quarantine).

Since its time at the height of preteen gaming, before Fortnite took over that lane, the game has added new monsters, animals and missions to keep players entertained beyond building a house out of dirt. 

Grand Theft Auto V

Every parent's worst nightmare: a game where you can go to strip clubs, shoot cops and steal cars. This edition of the GTA franchise has a long and rich story mode, around 30 hours long, along with one of the biggest playable maps of its generation. There is also an online component to the game, where you can shoot and rob other players while chatting over voice coms.

I spent most of my time with this game in the late 2010s ignoring the main story and running around evading the police after robbing convenience stores. That passed most of my junior and senior years of high school, so I think it could easily hold people over the course of their quarantine.

Ring Fit Adventure

Y’all still got to get your steps in even in the midst of a quarantine. The Switch exclusive, exercise adventure, role-playing game is apparently in high demand since gyms are now off limits.

This game could also double as a simulation of the outside world. Your character in-game runs through eye-popping scenery and battles monsters as the player runs in place and squeezes a pilates-style ring. Instead of coming back from spring break with a tan, return to classes in the fall 30 pounds lighter and leaner thanks to a video game. If you can’t find the game in stores or online, bust out the Wii Fit from ancient times. It misses you.

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