Top 10 Games to Help Fight the Winter Blues
It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from a little depression during the fall and winter. Maybe not bad enough to be clinically diagnosed, just a muted feeling that turns life down and makes everything seem like so much of a chore. Gamers have more reason to be depressed during winter than most. All the major titles drop by November and then there’s nothing to open on Christmas morning. Take into account the flagging economy and a lot of people don’t have the cash on hand to blow on new releases. But it’s not like a good gamer would throw himself into his family, focus on getting into the holiday spirit, and participating in community events to make connections and enjoy the warm glow of brotherhood. That requires you leave your room and *gasp* talk to people! So here are the top ten current gen titles to inject some warmth, cheer, and light into an otherwise drab, grim, grey, chest-high wall filled existence.
10. The Sims 3
Instead of the dangers of actual human interaction, why not recreate your neighborhood so you never have to step outside your comfort zone again? Don’t worry, it’s nothing like playing with dolls in the slightest! Seriously. Allow yourself a little escapism and play a game that’s meant to simulate real life without the depressing reality of economics, overpopulation, personal inadequacy, and all the things have the rest of us running for the razors. As long as you don’t think about it too hard, the fact that your sim is doing really well in life may prove cathartic.
9. Tropico 3
Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder is a common prescription if your shitty HMO covers it. Getting the opportunity to play god in your own personal island paradise is a close run second. And as it dawns on you that the individual factions which you must keep balance between and appease are each in their own way working to limit the personal rights, freedoms, and futures of the population, you’ll realize that the solution to restrictive rules is not more rules. And then there’s poverty, disease, and hunger to consider. You could eradicate all those things by exploiting all your home’s natural resources to the hilt, but then in a few years the pollution from your many industries causes the next generation to be born small and sickly until your people succumb to the many diseases and cancers ravaging their bodies… Wait a minute. This is supposed to treat depression?
8. Mirror’s Edge
Ever see marathon runners crossing the finish line? They’re in agony with every step, but they’ve got the widest grins. You know why? Endorphins. Faith is a perfect example of that, looking for the “flow” in her futuristic world of parkour and neverending energy. The crisp graphics, flowing sound, and novel game mechanics put Mirror’s Edge in a category of its own. And, despite the fact that it was cut down and rushed for time (typical of EA), there is an addictive quality to the game’s first-person navigation which endures despite multiple playthroughs.
7. Civilization 5
Civilization 5 represents the current pinnacle of turn-based strategy gaming, in which the player acts as the leader of a specific race or ethnicity and guides the survival and development of their society through the millennia. It presents many challenges in terms of balancing internal governance and foreign policy, guiding your society to a bright, hopeful future while slaughtering your enemies wholesale (or maybe practicing the fine art of diplomacy if you’re feeling bored). What you’ll find as you play and as the years pass by like moments is that your outlook develops to one of acceptance, and with an almost Zenlike focus you see all things come and go in their own time, just as surely the drab, depressing winter you now endure will give way to vibrant spring.
6. Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 represents a new step in the development of first-person shooters. It goes beyond the gravity of life-and-death situations and the grim, dolorous existence of professional soldiers and antiheroes to parody the genre by trivializing life in a colorful alien world, Pandora, with a plethora of side-missions, multiple character classes and talent tree customizations, and more guns than any other game title to date. It’s bigger than life. It’s over the top. It’s violence, havoc, and mayhem in a clown suit. Just the sort of change of pace from the traditional grave shooter.