Quarantining with Life Sims and Sandbox Games

Anna talks about simulators again, but this time it's during quarantine.

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Hello, and welcome to my personal nightmare. Politics is making things that are not political political, the next presidential election is coming up, and everything is bad. All things considered, I’m just pretty excited that I’m alive and have my cat.

Here she is, Zelda the menace

2020 has turned into a nightmare for many people. I got very lucky and was able to change jobs and move before mandatory quarantine hit my home state of Ohio. This meant I was able to start working from home, which isn’t that bad. It gives me more time to work on projects, I don’t have to drive as much anymore, and I can play videogames in my downtime.

As we’ve mentioned on the podcastAnimal Crossing: New Horizons came out towards to end on March, just as many states in the US were going into quarantine. It couldn’t have been better timing, especially since I had my own personal garbage going on in addition to this global pandemic. I installed it before going to work on March 20th. After about an hour of playing, I had to wait a whole eight hours to be able to play again.

Fun summer night in Animal Crossing

Well, fast forward five months, and we are still in limbo with this whole global pandemic thing. The threat of COVID-19 is still strong and it is…yikes. Everything is yikes and BOY is everyone tired. Oh, and angry, as they should be. Everyone should be angry about the atrocities going in the United States right now.

SO how about those videogames that I can stay home and play? Well…I’ve mostly just played Animal Crossing. With every game I have, and every game I bought during the Steam Summer Sale, you’d think I’d play something, anything, else. But no, I’m just chilling on my island, making friends and catching bugs.

have played other games since March. Most notably The Sims 4Wilmot’s WarehouseTavern TycoonPlanet Coaster, and Townscaper. All of these are either simulation or building games. It’s almost like in this unprecedented time—as the corporations like to say—being able to play a game where I am in complete control is reassuring. I am one person who cannot take the reigns of the world and say, “I’m in charge, everyone chill.” In a game like The Sims I have so much more power, even if I am using cheats to make everyone happy and calm and not falling asleep in the middle of the park. There’s a lot of comfort in taking control over something in times when everything is out of your hands. As much as I love playing adventure games and RPGs, that’s not what I need right now. Right now I need something like Animal Crossing, which picks me up, drops me in a sandbox, and—quite literally—hands me a shovel.

Townscaper is very good and cute. Look at this great town I made.

Animal Crossing is a game I’ve played since I was a kid, and the newest addition is the best one yet. The opportunities for customization and chances for constant change on your island are endless. It’s no wonder people like my college roommates, who are casual gamers, picked it up and love it. New Horizons was a light for a lot of people as they started holing up inside to protect themselves and others from contracting COVID-19. It’s a comfortable, cute game for anyone and I am still having a blast (despite some burnout in mid-summer).

I don’t know how things will progress. I don’t know how this year is going to end. What I do know is I am doing my best to stay intact, and the best way for me personally is to be in control over at least one things. If that means I sink hundreds of hours into flattening and redoing my Animal Crossing island or making my sims knit forever until they pass out from exhaustion, so be it.

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Anna Bryniarski is a pretty uninteresting person with an interesting last name. She also has the best self esteem ever, right next to that casserole that's been in the fridge for weeks wondering why no one's eaten it. She's also definitely a Disney princess and GameCola's social media trash queen.

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