Slow games: why calm video games are so pleasant

Slow games: why calm video games are so pleasant

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  • Run, jump, climb buildings, aim while building stairs and shoot. Video games have always been related to frenetic action and reflexes, although in the beginning, many titles were conversational adventures, in addition there are also somewhat more leisurely genres such as strategy and even some RPG. Nevertheless, there is a kind of games which are like an infusion of mint pennyroyal, are capable, without apparently intending it, of being a balm for the soul. Its music, its mechanics and even its very aesthetic manage to take the player to the other extreme of the agitation of current titles such as Fortnite either League of Legends.

    It’s not about being the fastest aimer or the one who conquers the enemy base, the objective, or the destination first, it simmers. This dynamic allows you to take it easy, adapt to the rhythm of the game. They are not demanding games in that sense. Nor do they offer millions of stimuli per minute, its pace is leisurely and enjoyable.

    It’s normal to have moments when you don’t feel like saving the world., overthrow a dictator, shake the pillars of a civilization or avoid traps in temples built before Christ. There are those moments in which you really enjoy a conversation with an AI while you put on a digital coffee, delivering packages in a nice and quiet town (or in a United States after a cataclysm), repairing small appliances and everyday gadgets or simply, being a hole in the ground, sucking objects without rhyme or reason, is just what is needed to release all the stress.

    Euro Truck Simulator 2 (2013).

    Different groups of researchers have been conducting studies for decades to analyze the impact of video games on the human brain. From the link with stress (or relaxation) to the enhancement or not of aggressiveness. In fact, much of this research has focused on revealing whether there is a relationship between playing video games and violence, however, there is a less popular point of view that studies the de-stressing and anxiolytic effects of gambling. Yes, there is a digital equivalent to seeing office either storethe enjoyment of witnessing everyday situations.

    A group of researchers analyzed 116 scientific studies to get an overview of how they influence the brain and the behavioral changes that video games can cause. Prepared by scientists from the Open University of Barcelona and the Massachusetts General Hospital, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the review focuses on distinct neural effects and structural brain changes. Specifically, a third of the studies covered video game addiction and 14% focused on violence related to this hobby.

    They thus reveal that it has been possible to establish links between the neural and cognitive aspects, specifically with regard to cognitive control, attention, visuospatial skills, workload, and reward processing. For example, some studies suggest that playing video games improves attention span, visuospatial skills, and faster response times on visual tasks.

    Video games not only influence brain performance but also change its structure. They are even capable of enhancing memory, as revealed by a study published in Nature. The most shocking thing about the finding was that games are even capable of reversing some adverse effects associated with brain aging. They are also capable of boosting the formation of memories, according to researchers at the University of California-Irvine, USA. For example, they showed that strategy games improve brain function among adults so much that they might provide protection against dementia and Alzheimer’s.

    The neurological mechanism of well-being

    Playing video games can also complement and even work as a viable treatment for depression and improve mood. In fact, research from the University of Oxford revealed a correlation between playing video games and well-being. For the study they analyzed the interaction of different players with the titles of plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Y Animal Crossing: New Horizons and telemetry data. thus finding one positive link between play and affective well-being. The findings suggest that there is a relationship between a greater number of game times with a greater sense of well-being.

    Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020).
    Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020).

    The power of video games has also been shown to provoke positive emotions in players, also contributing to emotional stability, even reducing emotional disorders in children. Gaming has been advocated by many regular gamers as a means of relaxation and stress reduction, so much so that even minors have revealed that they they use them as an outlet in response to problems with friends or parentsallowing them to deal with feelings of anger, guilt, or frustration.

    Thus affirming that this dissipates after the time dedicated to the game, which multiplies the feeling of well-being. Similarly, there is evidence that the level of depressed mood is significantly lower in people who regularly play video games, compared to those who never do so.

    Death Stranding (2019).
    Death Stranding (2019).

    Normally, this type of titles are related to indie games or independent studios, but currently there are works included in this category, which could be called slow games. Some industry experts include titles like Death Stranding in this group, even classic games like Super Mario Bros.which by reducing the feedback loop, that is, they do not demand a daily game marked by expired objectives, allows you to take them more calmly, with your own rhythm of progression. Rather than focusing on hand-eye coordination, they also require memory, patience, and the ability to observe.

    Perhaps its success is also due to today’s frenetic pace of life, a fast-paced routine in which it feels like a mental break to be driving a truck on European roads in Eurotruck Simulator or living a quiet life in a village, running your own farm in stardew valley. During the game hours, the type of calm stimuli with which the player is directed allows him to have an introspection that, almost subconsciously, seems to create a sensation of organizing ideas.

    contemplation as learning

    When the outside world is so chaotic, random and unfair, escaping the control of mortals; video games of this style are a bed refuge in which perseverance and the fulfillment of objectives are rewarded in an equitable way. Of course, at the pace you prefer, because time in these games is not just another resource, thus disappearing that anxious feeling of other genres.

    Another aspect that encourages introspection is the encourage observation, which in turn promotes contemplation. A good example is Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, a game whose plot is not good-natured, but which is nonetheless capable of transmitting calm. This title has a limited speed with which the player can move precisely to force him to stop and contemplate, to go very little by little, discovering what has happened to the people who inhabited the town in which it is set.

    Everybody's Gone to the Rapture (2015).
    Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (2015).

    The author Victor Navarro, in Pixelated nature: ecocriticism, animals, moral consideration, and growth in videogames makes a difference between slow games and transcendentalist games, the latter being a variant of the former, in which the variable of the idealization of voluntary isolation in nature is added. “Zen games, slow games, transcendentalists and even walking simulators seem to be part of a larger trend: resistance to acceleration,” says Navarro.

    It is also noteworthy how these types of titles are able to foster learning without a high level of existence and without an iota of stress. A good example of them are simulators, a phenomenon that Douglas Heaven analyzed in New Scientist magazine. Tasks that could be boring like moving or undoing, see unpackingdeliver packages in a quiet town like in Lakestraighten objects as in A Little to the Leftplace things in a warehouse as in Wilmots Warehouse>/r>, create a city based on clicks as in townscaper or even fix everyday objects like a radio or a coffee maker in Assemble With Care. The value of boredom, an abstract concept that is beginning to be more valuable and scarce than time itself.

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