Mr Gay Europe 2019 Alexander Petrov is a game developer and in these times of quarantine he gives you his input on games you can play in order not to let the time in isolation get to you.

Quarantine and self-isolation are becoming the new normal across Europe due to the current pandemic. Our daily social and professional routines break down to long days of just staying home, possibly alone.

Our mental endurance will start being tested. We’ve all probably seen by now videos of people in Italy, Spain, China, etc., acting crazy and mad on their balconies out of boredom, after just a week or two of self-isolation.

Everything is canceled and closed, and there is nothing to do with others. Humans innately need socialization in order to function properly and keep their hormone levels into check. Adding to this, our world of overly-available instant entertainment, where just a short commercial in the middle of the series you are watching, can trigger feelings of boredom.

We can end up with a situation where a lot of people will start to feel very unsatisfied very fast, triggering depressions or sporadic and irrational behaviors. In order for us to weather this storm and win the battle for our sanity, that is to come, I want to share with you the story of the people of ancient Lydia, as attested by Herodotous.

Games by law
Lydia was a prosperous kingdom for many centuries, until a few years of draught caused extreme famine across the kingdom.

The people of King Atys were suffering, fighting, panicking, so in those extreme times he had to come up with an extreme solution.

He gathered his most clever men, and they invented dice games and made a kingdom-wide law. On one day all of the people of Lydia will eat, and on the next day they will only play games. Games would engage and immerse the people into them so well, that they will forget about hunger and pain.

And according to Herodotus, it worked. This alternating eat/play policy went on for 18 years as the population of Lydia survived through the famine. After those 18 years, the draught wasn’t getting better, so King Atys decided they will play one final game. He divided the people of the kingdom into two, and they got to play one final dice game. Whichever half won, got to embark on an adventure out of Lydia, in order to hopefully find a new place to live and thrive, leaving behind just enough people to survive on whatever resources were left.

At first Herodotus’ story sounds improbable, but archeological findings suggest that the Etruscans (the grandfathers of the Roman Empires) share the same DNA with the Lydians, and geological findings point to a global cooling that lasted for about 20 years at that time, which could explain the famine.

So, Herodotous’ story might be true, and the Lydians, on several occasions saved themselves and their culture by playing games. Let the games begin in during these lonely times.

Let’s play!

Let’s play video games in order to make the time pass quicker and not focusing on the things we miss or fear. Some of you might prefer reading books or watching movies, which are also good options, but completely lack an interactive or social aspect to them. Which we would need in the long run in order to create immersion and socialization.

From my personal experience, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve successfully evaded pain and negative thoughts using games – be it while I’m down with a headache and fever of the seasonal flu, heartbreak from a failed relationship, grim realizations of our own mortality caused by a human loss.

You just focus into the game, and everything else around you stop to exist. All worries, fears and suffering sink into the blurred surrounding, bringing ease to your mind. The power of immersion will be the much-needed distraction we need, before the days go back to their usual carefree routine.

So, this is the time to brush on your consoles, PCs, laptops or any other platforms, old or new, and play some games. Maybe you wanted to play a specific game but never had the free time? Maybe you want to revisit some games from your youth, bringing back memories? Maybe you are feeling competitive and want to test how you compare with other people? Maybe you like party games, but don’t have the people for them?

Here are a few fun suggestions that you can easily play with your friends or other gamers over your web browser (Some may require for you to have/allow flash player): – It’s kind of like charades, but with drawing MS Paint style. You all take turns of drawing one of three words, and your friends try to guess it by typing it down. The fastest gets the most points. or – on trend! 😀 You start as a small microbe and you move around the level in order to eat nutrients or other microbes (friends) becoming a bigger and bigger organism. – It’s a nice multiplayer version of the popular classic mobile phone game – Snake. Eat as much as you can to become longer and bigger, avoid colliding with the other snakes out there and try to trick them into colliding with you, so you can eat them. – Town of Salem. It’s a nice twist on the popular party games Warewolf/Mafia. The people of the town of Salem gather each day and try to figure out, which on of them is the “witch/witches” that is killing them one by one during the night. It’s a game with hidden identities. – Tiny tanks. You and your friends take the roles of small tanks that maneuver around household environments, shooting each other down and trying to take objectives. – A bit more complex than tiny tanks, but also more fun. You have a jet pack and a gun. Fly around the level and try to shoot down your friends. – a multiplayer version of the classic bomber man. You plant bombs in order to make way through the level, gathering equipment and they trying to blow up your opponents, once you manage to reach them. – Good ol’ classic chess. – it’s a multiplayer jigsaw puzzle that you and your friends can try to put together.

And for the slightly more advanced gamers, I’d suggest taking a look at the tons of games that sites are giving away for free at the moment:

Hope some of these suggestions work for you lessen the monotony of staying home.

Take care of yourself and each other!