Video Games to Pass Time

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Video Games to Pass Time

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2020 was a good time for video games, particularly those that I am interested in. Releasing in the middle of the year, games such as the highly anticipated Mount and Blade: Bannerlord and Crusader Kings III managed to provide time-wasting opportunities to many people. The latter, abbreviated CK3, is pictured here. CK3 is essentially a feudalism-simulator with role playing game mechanics, famous in the PC gaming sphere for both its complexity but also its ability to organically allow stories to form in the most Game of Thrones way possible.

This was one of my earlier games, after I was more familiar with how the game differed from CK2. Starting as the Raja of the real-life Northern Indian dynasty of the Imperial Gurjara-Pratihara in 867 CE, through many generations of rulers I managed to consolidate the entire subcontinent through diplomacy, intrigue, and warfare. Around 1000 CE one of my rulers who had a more intellectual education rather than the usual military one, consolidated all imperially sanctioned Hindu beliefs into the Charvaka school, a real-life ancient Hindu belief based on materialism and empiricism. As this new consolidated Hinduism united the subcontinent at a more local level, regional governors along the Indus River took advantage of political fragmentation around the Indian Ocean and pushed west, taking over not just Persia and Central Asia but also establishing Hindu-Somali outposts in Africa and Yemen. By the 1300s the empire spread from Burma in the east all the way to modern day Libya and Greece, with Rome itself falling to a Pratihara expedition. Peace was maintained within the empire's vassals by a robust series of alliances, as well as the use of the "dread" mechanic to scare any more unruly subjects into submission via planned executions and threats. The most serious threats the Pratihara Empire faced was a series of crusades launched from Western Europe, and the Mongol Conquests which were ended by assassinating a few generations of Mongol Khans leading to political infighting and collapse.

Beyond the fake history being made in game, this single play through gave me enjoyment for dozens of hours. While psychical entertainment was shut down, travel impossible, and the shadow of the pandemic hung over everything, games like CK3 allow people like me to immerse ourselves in what begins as real history and ends with an alternate history that we ourselves designed. Many people who don't usually play video games became engrossed in them, particularly early on in the likewise open-ended game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The need to develop new hobbies as a way to cope with isolation was a boon for the video game industry, which despite its massive market was seen by many people as quaint at best, or worthless at worst. There is value in video games, especially during the pandemic.

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This item was submitted on February 18, 2021 by Adam Peretz using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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