There is no doubt 2020 was a rough year for a lot of people and because I was stuck at home, I suddenly had more time to play games (yay!). Here’s my love letter to the games that got me through the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2020; they will forever have a special place in my heart.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

A social simulation game for the Nintendo Switch

I had never been a fan of the Animal Crossing franchise, I’ve always been more of a “Sims” type of player. However, two of my friends hyped it up and convinced me to buy it so we could socialize during the quarantine. After a couple of weeks, I clearly became addicted. I found my way into various AC (Animal Crossing) Facebook and Discord groups and this opened up my eyes to new ways of enjoying AC. I’m not proud, but I spent over 600 hours playing and socializing in AC. I learned more about social games, collecting items, and how to let your imagination run wild (turned my island into a Star Wars theme park). AC provided a layer of comfort, a sense of routine, and a safe way to socialize with others after realizing the quarantine was here to stay.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

An action-adventure game released for the PS4 and PS5

I honestly didn’t think I’d be playing MM (Miles Morales) this year mainly because I wasn’t planning on buying a PS5 and I didn’t realize they had planned to release it for the PS4. I was blown away by the Twitter coverage of the game, especially from fellow BIPOCs and Puerto Ricans. Additionally, I was quite familiar with Miles’ story — collected most of his comics and saw the Spider-Verse movie in theaters (so yea, I needed to play this game). I thought MM was an awesome action-adventure game with an interesting storyline. The game’s story wasn’t a direct copy of the Miles I knew, but the right elements were there. The biggest factor was representation and diversity, MM not only has a BIPOC as the main protagonist, but we also see an awesome ASL character (developed with the help of an ASL actor and interpreter). I don’t usually cry in video games, but between you and I — I shed a tear.

Pokemon Go

A location-based augmented reality adventure game released for iOS and Android

I’ve been a PoGO OG since it came out in 2016, but I eventually got bored of the same old offerings. Because I live on a more rural side of the country, it was evident the game lacked flexibility and ease around performing certain research events, leveling up took longer, and even catching certain Pokemon felt hard. After playing for about 3 years, I took a long hiatus, but in 2020 my partner pointed out a lot of intriguing updates. I got excited and started to play again. Luckily, we moved and now live near a park with a lot of poke stops and gyms. I also used PoGo as an excuse to get out of the house and walk the dogs. After playing for a while, it brought me back to why I originally started playing the game — a good excuse to play games while outside and spending time with my partner.

Thinking through my top choices, comfort was a big factor for these games. 2020 was rough and these games provided much needed comfort, safety, and distraction.

Honorable Mentions

Among Us

Not my favorite game, but I still play to socialize with friends and colleagues.

Jedi Fallen Order

Never thought I’d find a short, yet engaging Star Wars game.

Mario Kart 8

Classic, fun, and nostalgic.

Ape Out

The music, the art, the gameplay — 10/10.

Fall Guys

Cute and colorful game that always leaves a smile on my face.

What I’m Currently Playing

Hades

Many of my friends hyped it up, so here I am playing a rogue-like game (totally outside of my comfort zone). I’m 30 minutes in and I love the art direction, character design, and how challenging, yet rewarding it is (we’ll see how long it takes me to get through Hades).

I’m looking forward to playing the rest of my backlog and the other games we’ll likely cover with the Design Buddies Game Club.

UX Designer