An Introvert’s Guide to Quarantine

Digital Bridges Over Social Distance


Social distancing has created an interesting dilemma: How do we address the closing of traditional social spaces? The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented need for non-traditional avenues of social interaction. In my opinion, that can be filled by shared experiences in digital spaces.

Culver-Stockton College has recognized this potential, as can be seen in the gaming tournaments currently being scheduled by Student Engagement, along with Intramural Sports and Esports to begin on April 20th, according to the Campus Programming Council. Being an absolute shut-in, here are my recommendations for games that most effectively serve to facilitate these interactions.

My primary recommendation for a game that can be enjoyed by all ages, and go above and beyond in creating memorable shared experiences is Minecraft. Among my friends, the good times we’ve had in this game are still looked back upon fondly years later, even as we move further past the first decade of the game’s availability. Though most games are known by their genre, the innovative style and content of Minecraft created a genre in and of itself, inspiring much of the boom of survival games seen throughout the 2010s. Best described as “digital LEGOs”, this Swedish indie game turned international phenomenon, still standing as the bestselling video game of all time today.

Split between multiple modes:

  • Creative, where the player is given an unlimited supply of resources to build anything they can imagine.
  • Survival, a more active and traditional game in which the player does as the game’s title implies – mines for resources, and crafts them into the tools, weapons, and armor needed to survive and thrive, adding an extra challenge while still allowing the player to aspire to the creation of the same imaginative creations, with the added pride of having fought through hordes of monsters and having traveled far and wide to collect the blocks used to make them.
  • Adventure Mode, which restricts the player’s ability to break blocks and navigate the world freely, is generally used to play various minigames, or go through adventure maps, pre-constructed worlds that generally provide a fun experience, or tell a story through a series of puzzles or other challenges.

The game’s release is currently divided into the PC-only Java Edition, the original game which allows for free, player-created content that can be acquired with a basic knowledge of computer navigation and web safety, and the omni-platformed Bedrock Edition, which is available on PC (if you have Windows 10), Console, and Mobile. The drawback of this cross-platform experience is the monetization of content – character customization, worlds, and texture packs – which are freely available and player created on the Java Edition.

In-genre alternatives : Terraria, Starbound, Conan Exiles

The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented need for non-traditional avenues of social interaction.

— Quentin Wells, staff writer

Do you hate having unspent free time? Do you despise getting a full night’s sleep? The Grand Strategy genre might be for you. With games that take days at least, going up to weeks to complete a playthrough of the repeatable, easily mod-able content of, Paradox Interactive’s various titles in the genre, such as Europa Universalis IV, Hearts of Iron IV, and Crusader Kings II providing an excellent opportunity to familiarize yourself with history and geography in a fun and innovative way. These games do possess multiplayer capacities, however, a competitive playthrough may be more capable of increasing social distance, as this genre shares the renown of traditional games such as Monopoly or Diplomacy in the creation of lasting animosity.  Generally, the price of acquiring these games is set fairly high, but Paradox Interactive has recently begun to implement a small monthly subscription fee to access all available content in at least some of their titles.

Alternative recommendations: Sid Meyer’s Civilization VI, Stellaris

Lukewarm recommendation: Imperator: Rome

MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) stand as a good, but very time-consuming platform for spending time with friends and creating social experiences. These games generally feature subscriptions of $10-15 a month. Traditionally limited to PC, some games in this genre are also available on consoles, though, to my knowledge, the hardware on mobile has yet to evolve to meet the standards required for the MMORPGS (MMO-Roleplaying Games), such as Everquest or World of Warcraft, which have largely defined the public perception of the genre. Though solo content is commonly available in these games, they’re largely defined by multiplayer content and social interaction. As a warning to those who still have obligations despite the current state of quarantine, these games did evolve from the MUD Genre, a term backronym-ed into “Massive Undergraduate Destroyer”, so the large investment of time required should be kept in mind by the inexperienced gamer.  I personally recommend Final Fantasy XIV, a more traditional entry into the genre, available cross-platform for PC & PS4.

Alternative recommendations: World of Warcraft, Destiny II, Lord of the Rings Online

An underappreciated gem, which might call for a bit less intense involvement than most games in the MMO genre would be Temtem, a game which is remarkably similar to Nintendo’s Pokémon series, save for the fact that it includes co-op content and a shared multiplayer world, in which players can challenge one another to battles, and team up to progress. Though currently only available on PC, releases on other platforms are in the works.

Additionally, though I have no personal experience with it, it appears Animal Crossing, may be winning the popular vote. Though I don’t know enough to tell you much about it, perhaps you might like to read the Wildcat Wire’s review.

However, for those wanting for a slice-of-life farming game, but lacking in a Nintendo Switch, Stardew Valley, an indie game alternative, featuring limited co-op, and available on PC, current-tier consoles, and mobile is available. Though more limited in its multiplayer capacity, Stardew can still scratch the same itch, and provide a helping of dungeon-delving, and a world with a complex narrative to explore on the side.