As we approach a month in isolated life, this situation gives us an excuse to do (or attempt) something productive while we twiddle our thumbs and wait for this bug to blow over. I've tried painting through my vast backlog of unfinished plastic miniatures and have even taken up learning a language with the time I've got, but there has been one notable factor that made my time in quarantine bearable. Not the internet, that doesn't need explaining. But rather multiplayer gaming, the best way I've found to still enjoy the presence of friends near and far. We homo sapiens are pack animals, and are by no means built to handle long periods of solitude. Perhaps this is why we have come so far in communications technology once the means were available to us, and this does include the internet.
But back to the gaming scene. 2020 has been a fantastic year for releases on all consoles, fantastic releases that not even a global pandemic could stop or hinder. E3 may be cancelled but we are in no way game-deprived for the foreseeable future. The long awaited not-so-alike duo of Doom: Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons finally came out, on the same day hilariously. Along with the PC release of Halo: Combat Evolved, the nostalgic and, dear I say, antique, Sci-Fi masterpiece that even received its own remaster. Half Life: Alyx gives us even more reason to get a VR Headset (We'll get back to that) and experience the new instalment of a series we thought was all but abandoned by its benevolent creator, Valve. Most recently we received Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, a sequel die-hard fans of the franchise have been waiting 8 years for, taking us back to the medieval days of chivalry and feudalism. Not to mention the 2020 titles that are yet to be released, looking especially at Cyberpunk: 2077 and Assassin's Creed: Ragnarok.
While gaming itself is an enjoyable experience by yourself or with friends, for me it doesn't quite replace the act of hanging out in real life with these same mates. This is where VRChat comes in. I personally don't see this title as a game, but rather as an experiment. A mostly user-controlled programme that brings your friends together each with their own custom-designed avatar that they feel suits them most, in a custom-designed map that can range from a peaceful mansion in the woods to a base on another planet, or whatever you fancy in between. It's main purpose is to be used as a social platform, speaking face to face with your buds all in VR headsets, your in-game head, arm and leg movements mimicking your own in real-life. This is the closest I've ever felt to real-life social interaction within a virtual environment, and your brain certainly goes along with it.
While this Ready Player One type of interaction may appear to some people as dystopian and something out of Black Mirror, I see it as an alternative, connecting people across the world on a more personal level. This has become even more useful and revolutionary now that the world's inhabitants have been forced indoors for who knows when? And no one should complain about an alternative.
Technology is one of my favourite things about mankind, and the way our species has been able to adapt to such bleak circumstances will never fail to amaze me. Seems like no matter a pandemic or any other disaster, our needs as social creatures will be met one way or another.