Every night after dinner and spending some time with his wife, Michael, a 64-year-old retiree in Georgia, would spend two hours — and only two hours — battling Alduin the World-Eater in Skyrim or opening Jötunheim’s portal in God of War. Such was his routine, he told me back in August, and so long as he played in moderation, he felt it helped keep his mind and hand-eye coordination sharp.
In quarantine, though, he’s been playing a lot more — like, a lot, lot more. “My wife is working from home, and I have to make myself scarce during her meetings,” he tells me. “As such, I’m gaming two to three extra hours a day.” So far he’s been playing through The Witcher 3 “yet again,” and he “just bought Baldur’s Gate I and II enhanced for PlayStation 4.”
Needless to say, being a seasoned gamer has helped Michael stay safe, happy and occupied during what’s inarguably a terrifying time for those of his generation (given that coronavirus is disproportionately deadly for the over-60 crowd).
Same for David, a 71-year-old in Vermont. He, too, has been gaming hard during quarantine. But he doesn’t consider that a bad thing. “Being immersed in a computer game definitely helps shut out all other thoughts about the pandemic,” he explains. To that end, David still sticks to solo adventure games with “deep lore, complex characters and good stories,” in which he can especially lose himself. “I’ve been playing No Man’s Sky pretty exclusively,” he says. “It’s a large game with a lot of content and a lot of room for exploration. It keeps me quite content.”
Patrick Godfrey, a 61-year-old in Sacramento, had just finished the entire Bioshock trilogy when California went into lockdown. “When I looked for a new game and went to Amazon to see what was available, I found that shipping was either not available or severely delayed,” he says. However, after poking around on his PlayStation, he discovered PS Now, a subscription service that allows you to download digital versions of games. “No physical game needed!” he exclaims. “You don’t even have to install the game; it can be played as a stream.”
The discovery has allowed him to try out a few different games he’s always wanted to try, but could never pull the trigger on buying — e.g., NASCAR. “I enjoy driving games, and I’m glad I gave it a shot,” he says. But he adds, “Man cannot live by driving games alone.” Thus, he’s now moved on to Mafia 3. “What an outstanding game. I mean just excellent,” he gushes. “I put in hours and hours a day on it and just finished it last night. I’m super happy I found it, but now I have the age-old problem: what to play next?”
Because he doesn’t watch a lot of TV and “can only clean the house so many times,” Godfrey says, “gaming has been the one bright spot throughout this whole thing.” “I’m certainly glad I’m a gamer,” he continues. “With inclement weather here limiting my outdoor activities, I would have been hard-pressed to find anything that offered as many hours of entertainment.”
“In fact,” he tells me as our interview concludes, “the weather is once again not cooperating today, so it looks like I’m headed back to the console for whatever else I can find to play.”
The Best Stuff to Binge in Quarantine
- In its 40th season, the reality show Survivor is better than ever. Here are the best past seasons.
- It’s time to sit back and listen to some Steely Dan — the perfect music for the moment.
- Forget Contagion. It’s all about The Happening.
- Want more active entertainment? Portal is the game you need.
- The unabashed optimism of John Prine will make you feel better.
- For Gen Z, everyone seems to be on Club Penguin.
- If you feel like the world is doomed, try French New Wave cinema.
- Take a trip back in time with 10 essential silent films.
- Spend some time doing jigsaw puzzles. They’re great for anxiety relief.
- Hungry? You can watch a Michelin-starred Italian chef livestream his dinner.
- Thirsty? Here’s our list of the best fictional bars in pop culture.
- When all else fails, Cheers!