If you, like everyone on the team here at FuturLab, are now working from your home, then it’s likely that you don’t feel like you’re living in an exciting new reality where every day is relaxed and chilled, hanging out at home and doing a bit of work here and there when required.
This shift from working in an office to working from home has brought with it a whole host of new ways for us to feel frustration and stress because its not just that we’re still handling the typical stress of work, it is also the added frustration at the ways that our homes are generally not appropriate places to work from. And more importantly that our homes are meant to be a sanctuary from the stress of work life. We’re not meant to be bringing that in through the front door! Our homes are designed to be places that we retreat to so that we can calm down, unwind and chill out.
Ordinarily it would have been the daily commute that signals to us the divide between our home lives and our work lives. Now that we’re in this really unusual situation where work stress and homey relaxation are both co-existing in the same place, we need to find a new way of separating ourselves from these sources of stress and tension.
The escapism offered by games is one potential route out of our ‘home-offices’ and away to a more calming and relaxing place.
A lot of gamers play games in order to escape or to temporarily reframe their identity – to spend a few hours a day as a super-soldier, a wise-cracking adventurer, a famous historical character etc etc but the problem that this presents is that most games appeal to gamers by offering them an adrenaline rush.
These games are designed to be stressful, to engage our fight or flight reactions so that we can feel the pressure of an imminent threat, the rush provided by the heat of battle, and the brief satisfaction of victory before ramping up to do it all over again.
In our current social context however, this kind of escapism is just adding anxiety on top of frustration on top of stress at a time when what we all need is to find a way to just take a break!
Everyone’s lives are different but we all need to unwind in a way that suit us. We all used to have ways to chill out, but the bulk of those options aren’t available to us for the time being, so we need to find other ways to take a break and calm down.
Escapism through games sounds like it should be one of those ways, but we need to be careful that we aren’t turning to games that are just introducing more sources of stress into our lives.
This awareness is one of the core design principles that has motivated us to develop PowerWash Simulator – this idea that a game doesn’t need to be competitive or even challenging in order to be enjoyable. And now more than ever we need to be spending our leisure time in ways that brings the pressure down, not ramps it up.