Students find solace in the world of video games

Many El Camino College students are still under quarantine as the semester slowly comes to an end.

As ECC is also planning to have the fall 2020 semester partially online, students have been finding various ways to pass time until schools and jobs can reopen. Among other things, students have taken an interest in activities like cooking, art, craftsmanship, and video calls with friends.

Video games have also always been a popular way to kill time, but in quarantine video game products like the Nintendo Switch are in very high demand. We got a chance to speak with a few students on what their favorite games are and how they’re using games to help cope with COVID-19.

  • “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

One of the more popular games to play during quarantine would likely be the latest addition to the Nintendo Switch game console, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”

Released two months ago on March 20, “Animal Crossing” is a social-life simulation game where players can build their own island paradise, as well as befriend the many anthropomorphic animal characters who may visit.

“I see it as a very wholesome and fun game to play,” Isabella Ampudia, 21, arts major at ECC said.

Ampudia, who never played any of the “Animal Crossing” games beforehand was first interested in playing when she saw what people online were capable of doing. From hosting virtual graduations during quarantine, to recreating scenes from “The Office.”

“When it first came out, I saw what everyone on Twitter was doing in the game and I was like ‘Oh that looks fun,’” Ampudia said. “I eventually convinced my brother to buy the game for our [Nintendo Switch], and I have to say I have not regretted it.”

Ampudia highly recommends the game to anyone who has yet to play it, especially during a time where many students are staying within their homes for quarantine.

“I feel like even non-gamers would enjoy playing it,” Ampudia said. “’Animal Crossing’, I believe, is perfect for anyone who wishes to keep busy and have fun until quarantine ends.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was made available on the same day as the ever-violent, first-person-shooter game: “DOOM Eternal.”

Due to this coincidence, many fans of both games have made both fan art and memes of popular “Animal Crossing” character, Isabelle, being friends with “DOOM’s” violent main character, Doomguy. Examples of which can be found here.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is available on the Nintendo Switch, exclusively.

  • “Pokémon”

“Pokémon” is another popular game to play, as it’s become widely known for it’s lengthy list of games, as well as it’s ever-expanding list of Pokémon to catch.

Outside of their mainstream titles, the Pokémon series is also widely popular for the fan-favorite role-playing video game series: “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon.”

Compared to how the traditional Pokémon games are played, “Mystery Dungeon” is different as it takes the player on an adventure in the form of a Pokémon; instead of the Pokémon trainer that many players were used to being.

“It helps keep my mind off [of] how long we’ve been in the quarantine,” Kess Tanino, 24, psychology major at ECC said. “And now that it’s been extended, I plan to play it a lot more in my free time.”

Tanino first became a fan of the “Mystery Dungeon” games around the age of 12, when she got her own copy of the Gameboy Advanced game, “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team”, the “other-half” to “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team.”

“I didn’t hear about the game before, because I really wasn’t into video games prior to middle school,” Tanino said. “However, I started playing because I was a very big fan of the Pokémon franchise, and I thought I’d give the game a try.”

Despite being the only game in the series that she’d play, until recently, it was enough to make her a fan of the role-playing-game (RPG) series.

She was able to purchase the latest installment of the series, before the stay-at-home orders were put into action, an HD remake of the original Blue and Red Rescue Team games; “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX,” which released on Jan. 9 for the Nintendo Switch.

“I got back into ‘Mystery Dungeon’ when I heard there was going to be a remake on the Switch,” Tanino said. “So before quarantine had started, I went and bought it.”

Tanino highly recommends readers to try the “Mystery Dungeon” games for themselves, even those who have yet to play or know very little about the Pokémon franchise.

“Even if you don’t know anything about Pokémon, or how an RPG game works, it has an easy story to follow and easy-to-handle controls,” Tanino said. “It’s just very easy and fun to play.”

“Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX” is available on Nintendo Switch, along with “Pokémon: Sword” and “Pokémon: Shield.”

  • “Rocket League”

If you’re a fan of either sport or racing genres in video games, then there’s a fair chance you’ve heard of the game that combines the two together.

Released back in July 2015, “Rocket League” is a competitive multiplayer video game that takes the sport of soccer, but replaces the teams with rocket-engine-attached remote-controlled (RC) cars.

“I’ve played it [‘Rocket League’] since it came out. I feel like it’s a very fun concept of soccer and cars,” Zachary Hermann, 19, undecided major, said.

Hermann also enjoys the mechanics of the game, in which it allows players to do various tricks and stunts via rocket boosts, along with the occasional car randomly flying off into the air.

“I really enjoy the mechanics — flying around in your cars and all that,” Hermann said.

Aside from game mechanics, “Rocket League” is also known for its customization options; in which players can pick from original in-game car models, to pop culture references like the Bat-Mobile and Doc Brown’s time machine from Back To The Future.”

“Rocket League” began to gain more popularity after it was adopted in 2016 as an official Esport, with professional players from around the world competing in organized tournaments.

Hermann suggests playing the game, to anyone who has not yet done so. However, he also gives a minor warning to new players.

“It is a very fun game. But it is also a very hard game to get better at,” Hermann said. “The controls can be very difficult to understand at first. But the more you play, the better you’ll get. It just takes some muscle memory.”

“Rocket League” is available to play on PC, Windows, Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.

If you have other games you’ve been playing since quarantine, or would like to suggest a game that people should check out for themselves, feel free to contact The Union on Twitter, @ECCUnion, or contact the writer, @ECCUnionDan, and share your thoughts.