The UK is still under restrictions and facing even tighter measures. With many people staying at home, unable to socialise or go about their normal activities, lots of us will have more time on our hands. Ever since the first national lockdown was imposed, I have spent a lot of time gaming. If you are a science fiction and/or fantasy fan and you ‘re not already a gamer, here’s why I think that science fiction and fantasy fans should be gamers:
Gaming is a fun way to pass time
Let’s break that down and start with passing time: As stated above, many people are having to spend much more time at home. Gaming fills that time. Turning now to fun: There is more than enough sadness, anxiety and uncertainty for people to deal with at the moment. They need something fun to get them through these difficult times.
Science fiction and fantasy gamers are spoilt for choice.
Our genre is massively represented in the gaming world, as there are countless games with an SFF basis or angle. With such a huge number of games, it is unsurprising that there is also a huge range of types of game. You are guaranteed to find something that you like.
Don’t be put off thinking that all games are fast-paced action shooter. If shoot-em-ups don’t appeal to you, there are many other types of game that will. For example, you may prefer a role-playing game where you choose a character and explore the game’s world. There are many games like this, and actually this is my favourite type of game. I love the Fallout series (post-apocalyptic science fiction), and also the Witcher and the Elder Scrolls (both medieval-esque fantasy). I spent the lockdown playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. There is combat in these games, but it doesn’t have to be a major part of it as you can choose what you want to do in these worlds. I like to play for the story and because I love exploring. After all, exploring new cool worlds is the thing I love most about SFF.
If you don’t want combat at all, there are many games that are wholly non-combat based. You may like strategy games or games like The Sims (never played it myself so can’t comment). If you’re not sure what games are out there then read one of the gaming websites. They have articles where they list the best recent games of each category, and they do reviews of the games. Just google whatever you want to know and do your research.
Games add new dimensions to the science fiction and fantasy genre
If you’ve never gamed before, then games present a totally new way to consume the genre, with new experiences. There are things done in games that only appear in that medium. For example, in games you are the hero of the story. You are the one who takes actions and makes choices. In many of the best games, the choices you make have definite consequences in the world, and you have to live with them. You don’t get this with books and films. So if you only read SFF books or watch SFF films, for example, then you’re missing out on a whole different side of SFF. If you’re a writer, then games can bring you many new ideas for your fiction. You might want to try writing interactive fiction as a result.
On a similar note, there are many games which are huge franchises and you are seriously missing out on these amazing worlds. I’m talking, for example, Gears of War, Halo, Mass Effect (all science fiction, the first is near-future Earth equivalent, and the latter two are far future space-hopping on different planets). There are books associated with these franchises and they’re really good. I’ve spent many happy hours playing Gears of War and reading the books. What’s not to love about a world where your gun has a chainsaw? Sorry, I digress. You may not be as bloodthirsty as me. I get it. But there are many brilliant games and worlds which are not violent at all. I love(d) Fable (historical fantasy on an Earth equivalent) – okay there is some combat but it’s not gory or difficult.
These days there is lots of support for gamers
Years ago (and I do mean years ago – somewhere around my Sega Megadrive days – yes I’m looking at you Ecco the Dolphin), I tried playing games after a hiatus, but I always found them too difficult. It really put me off playing them. However, things are so different nowadays. Every game (every major game at least) has one or more game guides freely available on the internet. Just google it, for example: ‘Skyrim game guide’ or ‘Skyrim walkthrough’. There are loads of very detailed guides out there so if you are stuck on a bit of the game you can read how to navigate through it.
In addition, if you’re playing a game with combat and you struggle with it, you can do what I do and turn the game’s difficulty right down to its lowest level (in the settings), which makes the combat super easy lol.
Gaming can be a vehicle for increased social interaction
We’re all having to endure restrictions on our social interactions at the moment. But gaming can help to alleviate the isolation in many ways. (You’ll need a headset so you can talk to other people, but they’re easy enough to obtain.) For example, many games offer online gaming where you can play other people. You could play with your friends, or if you don’t know any other gamers and can’t convince your friends to have a go, many games match you will other players around the world and you can game socially that way. You might meet some amazing people from far-flung countries.
Alternatively, you can still game socially even if you’re not playing with other people because you can use the headset to chat with friends over the internet. As long as they’re logged into their console you can chat for as long as you want while you’re gaming or otherwise using the console. In the old days (well, intermediate days – in the old days I was playing a Commodore 64) savvy people used this method instead of calling over the phone because it was free and you could chat as long as you wanted. Still is.
Games are not just for kids
Honestly, I think most people think that only kids play games or sad young to middle aged blokes who are over 20 stone and live in their parents’ basement and obsessively play games while shovelling down beer and pizza and dodging the shower. This is not true. There are so many brilliant games out there that there is something for everybody. I bet you’ll be surprised if you look at the range and breadth of games available. Also, there are all types of people playing them, even middle aged women like me lol. (It pains me to admit I am middle aged but I have to face the truth people).
Why science fiction and fantasy fans should be gamers – Conclusion
Okay, well, I hope I’ve managed to convince you why science fiction and fantasy fans should be gamers. There are incredible worlds just waiting for you to explore, and amazing stories for you to be swept up in, where YOU are the hero of the story. Have a go.