The weather here in the UK has surprised us these past couple of weeks (at the time of writing). Instead of our usual summer where you might see a bit of sunshine but are still wise enough to take a jacket when you go out, we’ve had clear blue skies and soaring temperatures.
We should be appreciative when we have warm spells like this but try to play video games and you’ll soon be wishing for rainy days again. The thought of sitting in the same room as PCs and lamps adding to the hot air when it’s already over 30 degrees inside doesn’t make streaming a pleasant experience; and the glare on the television caused by sunshine sneaking around the blinds means you can’t actually see what’s happening on-screen clearly anyway. You might as well put down the controller.
Later Levels (@LaterLevels) August 09, 2020
It’s not only these factors that make gaming on a sunny day less fulfilling than normal. There’s just something about grey clouds and the sound of rain outside that makes video games feel even more special. You know the feeling I’m talking about: a quiet weekend, the housework finished in the morning and lunch now eaten, drops of rain gently hitting the window and muffling any other sounds from outside, nothing to do for the rest of the afternoon except lose yourself in a digital land and possibly save the world.
It’s during periods like this that I’ve discovered titles which have stayed with me for a long time afterwards. To The Moon is an example and it’s now one of my favourite games. It must have been a Saturday morning when I decided to grab a cup of tea and turn on my laptop to install it, with the intention of only making sure it ran ok before getting in the shower. Around four hours later I was still sitting in my pyjamas on my bed, crying my eyes out and wondering how a video game could do this to me.
There was also J.U.L.I.A: Among the Stars. I decided to do a little work on my backlog during a day off work and this was a title I’d picked up as part of a sale some months before. I pretty much stayed in the same spot for nine hours because I was so engrossed in this story about a woman and artificial intelligence (AI) who were lost in space. It made me feel as though I were playing through Myst for the first time all over again: that feeling of stepping into an unknown world, trying to figure out why you’re there and what’s happened.
Then there was The Red Strings Club. It was a release which had been on my radar for a while, so I gave it a try when it was appeared in the Prime Gaming bundle one month and I happened to have a spare afternoon. I’m not sure a game has ever left me with so many questions about myself and my views before. It asks us how far we’re willing to go to suppress the worst aspects of our personalities for the good of the population; do our feelings make us who we are and is happiness at the cost of free will ultimately worth it?
Experiences like those described above could explain why rainy days and time off work give me a strong desire to play point-and-clicks. I can’t deny that this is my favourite genre and the one I turn to most frequently, but there’s just something about this type of game which makes it fit perfectly with lazy afternoons. Perhaps this could have something to do with nostalgia and memories of my childhood: maybe they remind me of school holidays filled with strange characters, conversation trees and overflowing inventories.
Somehow the rain makes it easier to switch off from the rest of the world. It presents you wish the guilt-free excuse of staying inside while waiting for the clouds to pass; and the sound of the drops dull other noises so it’s easy to pretend everything outside your room doesn’t exist for a moment. The only thing to do is focus on the story unfolding on the screen in front of you, immerse yourself in the world shown to you and shape its future – whether it be a point-and-click or some other type of game that takes your fancy.
According to the weather reports at the time of writing, we have another day or so of these clear blue skies and rising temperatures before the storms are about to hit my part of the country. I know I should be out in the garden making the most of the sun while working from home, taking long walks through the local nature reserve, or enjoying barbecues at my parents’ house. But there’s a part of me that’s looking forward to the rain coming in and getting lost in a totally different kind of adventure.
Are you a fan of rainy-day gaming? Or is there some other time you find perfect for video games?