Thanksgiving gives people the chance to reflect on things for which they’re thankful, and for me, I’m thankful for video games. They’re an awesome way to have fun, spend time with friends, and experience a great story, but beyond that, they gave people a way to get through the last two years where we all spent a little more time inside than usual. Better times are on the way everyone, but for now, today’s as good a day as any to celebrate the things that make us thankful in the world of video games.
Games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Stardew Valley, and My Time at Portia have been essential plays for the last two years or so. These games might feature the kind of rich storytelling that many seek out, or brimming with action to get your blood pumping, but they are happy. It is impossible to play these relaxing games, or any relaxing game, and not have a smile on your face. Many of us have needed that smile lately, and it’s what we’re all thankful for this year.
In the same spirit of relaxing games, a lot of us try to escape through social activity. For obvious reasons, that hasn’t been particularly easy lately, especially for those with friends spread across the world. That’s where multiplayer gaming is here to save the day. Multiplayer games like Halo Infinite, Among Us, and Mario Party Superstars have been fantastic ways to connect with family and friends no matter where they are and can all provide completely different multiplayer experiences.
Multiplayer games, maybe more than any other genre, offer the biggest variety to choose from these days. It’s hard to not find something that a group can enjoy, whether it’s a party game, competitive shooter, or an MMO. This variety of options has, of course, made multiplayer games the dominant genre of gaming out there.
One of the unfortunate downsides of the plethora of multiplayer games is a good campaign mode has taken a backseat. While incredible single-player experiences are still being made, they are nowhere near as common in the gaming landscape. That is why we’re thankful for the games that do provide fantastic stories. Games like Lost in Random, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and Psychonauts 2 are an example of a handful of wonderful single-player experiences from 2021. All of these games were single-player first, and in a world where so many video games are focused on pushing their battle pass, becoming the next great esport, or trying to sell you microtransactions, it was great to play some games that are there to be nothing more than a good time.
While there is nothing quite like an AAA experience, there are also few better places to get a quality game these days than indie developers. With video games becoming more expensive than ever, we’re seeing a downside where games can be a bit repetitive. AAA developers don’t want to take the risk of doing something new, because new can flop, and when new flops, that means a huge sunk cost. This is why we have to look to indies to try and bring us new experiences, tell stories that couldn’t be told before, and continue to push video games forward. Anyone that is only playing the massive AAA experiences are missing out on incredible gems like Death’s Door, Chicory: A Colorful Tale, and Inscryption. Video games are always changing and pushing boundaries and we are thankful for indies leading that change.
For a long time, we’ve been hearing about virtual reality becoming the next frontier for gaming, but joining that experience has always had an unfortunate barrier due to pricing. Thankfully, we’re finally starting to see headsets enter a more reasonable price range. On top of that, the library of games for them keeps increasing. It used to be that someone could play Beat Saber, the odd indie game here or there, and some cool tech demos. Now, Virtual Reality is getting a constantly growing variety of games. One of the best gaming experiences of the last few years was Half-Life: Alyx and it was entirely on a VR headset.
We’re thankful for VR. This is a growing platform with so much potential. We hope that potential is reached.