Soothing Video Games

Anything, including video games, can become addictive. As one of three aphorisms at Delphi said, “Nothing to excess”.

There are, however, video games with quieter user interfaces and gameplay loops, video games that respect your time, without dark design patterns to keep you hooked.

Here is a list of soothing video games I have played that I will keep updated as I find comfort in more of them:

Balsa Model Flight Simulator

Build and fly radio controlled airplanes! Currently in early access, Balsa is already a lot of fun. Brought to us by the creator of Kerbal Space Program.

Everything

Meditative game about life and the relationships between all things, interspersed with bits of audio from philosofico Alan Watts.

Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS)

Fly around Earth, preferably at low to medium altitude in small airplanes. This simulator can teach you real world flying procedures if you are interested. You can play with others without worrying about griefing as there are no collisions between airplanes.

If you want to fly and shoot, too, you can try DCS World or IL-2 Sturmovik, both of which I find as relaxing as MSFS to play, though I wish I could fly anywhere on Earth in these, too.

Noita

A random subterranean world filled with simulated pixels making up enemies and elements from sand to whiskey to electrical zaps is the setting of the lovely Noita.

The chaos from the physics simulation is brought to life by the sound track and sound design, which has made Noita one of my favorites in the Rogue-like genre to jump in to for a quick round of mayhem.

When you die, you start over from scratch, so you don’t have to worry about becoming an inventory pack-mule min-max organizator. And luck also plays a large part in your success, just like in life.

Valheim

A beautiful combination of retro low-polygon 3D models with life-like lighting systems and music that touches your soul set this rogue-like randomly-generated open world for hours of joy.

You can stay put and build and live and experience without needing to head out to more dangerous biome zones, until you choose, that is awakened god that you are.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW) respects and rewards your time spent in its world with lovely surprises at a near-perfect pace.

Perhaps the most beautiful video game I have ever played, its visual art, sound, music, animation, and physics form a delightful dish from the Nintendo master gameplay chefs.

If you take some time to get used to complex modern game controllers brimming with buttons, Zelda BotW’s emergent world will transport you back to a childhood spent climbing trees in nature while experimenting with the elements.

☁️ 🧘 ☁️

I should say that at times, exploding digital heads or mowing down a mob of zombies with wild abandon is soothing, to me, too! What weird creatures we humans are.

Finally, I find that keeping a physical journal and drawing and writing notes with real pencils on real paper when playing games is good for the eyes and the mind, as is taking regular breaks and going for walks in the real world, every day.

PS. A friend of mine started an excellent website dedicated to relaxing games called Yin Indie. If you have a suggestion for a relaxing game that you have played and don’t see there, please consider sending a note!

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