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  • Writer's pictureKelli Dunlap

I was on CBS Sunday Morning talking about cozy, chill simulator games

I love it when I have the opportunity to talk about games in ways that don't involve the Unholy Trinity (violence, addiction, and gambling). Last year I got to talk about Wordle with the AARP, CNBC, and El Pais. Last year was also when I spoke with CBS Sunday Morning David Pogue correspondent David Pogue about "boring" games. So excited it's finally out in the wild!

The day we shot, I was in the middle of moving out of a house that had no air conditioning and with wi-fi on the fritz. It was a bit hectic, but David and the CBS team were so kind and patient.

The premise was more or less "what are these games, why are they popular, and why would anyone else want to watch another person play them?"

Q1: What even are these games? A1: Power-wash Simulator, Unpacking, and A Little to the Left are all examples of what the show referred as "cozy," "mundane," or "boring" games. While most games people think of are 'fight or flight' type games - those with lots of adrenaline, chaos, and explosions, these games are 'tend and befriend' games where the goal is to care for things, people, or places.

Cozy games - swapping cortisol for cuddles - Kelli Dunlap

Q2: Why are these games so popular right now?

A2: This really is a two part answer. First, as I mentioned in the video, is that when the pandemic hit a lot of people were desperate for normal, for a sense of control as we came face to face with the reality of living on a chaos rock hurtling through space. These kinds of games are soothing because you have a task, you do it, and you can very clearly see the connection between your action and its consequence. This helps us to feel a sense of control over our environment and that our actions matter, two fundamental ingredients to psychological well-being.

Q3: Why watch someone else play a boring game?

A3: As Merry called out in the video, people watch streamers for a variety of reasons such as checking out a game before buying it, but a lot of people watch a stream for the streamer. Successful streamers are engaging and entertaining no matter what they're playing. And, honestly, if you've ever watched shows like Extreme Home Makeover or The Great British Baking Show then you understand that watching people successfully do ordinary things can be very satisfying.

Personally, the only game I've played of those mentioned in the video is Unpacking which is a fascinating experiment in non-verbal storytelling. I do have some thoughts about developer perspective impacting design, mostly because my 6 year old couldn't understand why the stuffed animals weren't allowed on the pillow (almost criminal, tbh) and I had to try to explain to him why that was. He also thought the maxipads were a video game and placed them promintently on the living room table... 😆

For me, relaxation is explosions and headshots but that's the beauty of there being so many games. There's something for everyone and they're all good.


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