What is Your Deserted Island Game?
Last week I called Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes my game of choice if I were to be abandoned on a deserted island with only one game. I might have thrown a splash of hyperbole behind the statement, but the way it absorbed my time felt like something that I would find myself able to play for many long hours to distract me from the depressing reality of being marooned on some godforsaken island.
In an ideal world where I would be able to craft a fully functioning game room out of coconuts and tree bark, I would sit and play just this one title to keep me entertained. That’s a tricky thing to want to sit down and finalize for yourselves. So I went to the Twinfinite writers room and demanded that they all finalize their ideal island game. What I got back was something a little unexpected.
A Tale of Two Sims
Usually when I throw these little collaborations together with the other writers, it is a showcase of the different preferences in the people I work with and how it shapes who they are as a person and as a writer for this site. The diversity of opinion can be somewhat satisfying to read through, which absolutely shocked me in the case of our Best of E3 post last year. To think that 11 people all looking at the same thing could come away looking at different games was absolutely astonishing.
With each post I try to aim for the same goal and very very rarely do I ever get two people in agreement. There simply is too much content on offer in this industry to have different personalities come to the same conclusion. In the rare instance this does happen however, I pit the two pieces together in a duel to the death to see which one was better. This was exactly what I was planning to do behind the scenes of this post. Two authors dared to choose the same option. Something had to be done.
I was mildly disappointed, but I still wanted to check through the rest of the posts to see what I still had. Then it happened again. Two different authors chose another game. More interesting though, was that the games both followed an amazingly similar style. On this quest to find what the people here wanted to play alone on a deserted island, I found what may be the ultimate game to play when faced with the unknown. Who would have thought it would come down to something like Animal Crossing or The Sims.
Similar in Nature
I had never really thought about it, but there is certainly an appeal of bringing a copy of Animal Crossing or The Sims with you on the island. The uncontrollable situation you are stranded in would almost certainly be relieved by the god-like command over your avatar and his environment. “It’s an escape from the realities of the island” said Yamilia Avendaño. “I already lose countless hours to it while having things to do, so just imagine the time I’d clock in on an island.” Simulation games do that. They give you a structure with numerous goals to look forward to. They let you burn hours away doing little things which is why I personally went forward with Fallen Enchantress.
Where The Sims and Animal Crossing excel however is that they are easy to project on to. It was Claudia Lorenzo that kind of highlighted this point with Animal Crossing. Similar to Tom Hanks’ relationship with Wilson in Cast Away, here lies one of the best systems of projecting your madness into a character or set of relationships. “There will always be fish to catch, flowers to plant, and decorating to be done. Having a game that would fit into my daily routine of foraging for food and trying to find a decent palm tree to live under would definitely help slow my descent into island-craziness. If I were on an island with no other options aside from it, I would more than likely be free to let my creativity run wild, come up with various decorating schemes, and take advantage of any and all changes in the turnip market.”
The purgatory of an ideal island life would necessitate that your imagination goes to some interesting new places. The structure of these two games should necessitate enough to drive you to something really amazing while not devolving in to something repetitious enough to drive you to madness. Since the avatars represent some form of yourself, projection really seems to have been a big topic among the staff. “And why not?” Alissa McAloon chirped in “While I’m trapped in a sandy wasteland, my Sims could live in mansions designed to my every whim. I could live vicariously through the aspirations of my little virtual creations.” They could represent your life through what you want in your ideal setup. This could be the ritzy mansion Alissa wanted, or the ideal island getaway you should be staying at instead of the bundled together sticks and leaves that act as a foundation to your current island hell house.
A New Leaf
Pulling out The Sims and Animal Crossing really seemed like an ideal choice the more I sat around typing this. Originally I was sitting back thinking on what my ideal games would be. Games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Final Fantasy Tactics rolled around my head before anything else. These games were classics. Games that could be played over and over again and again. Oddly enough however, nobody on staff chose a classic. That is truly bizarre considering our age groups. Maybe its because the staff understands that maybe an island trip wouldn’t be the best place to replay a Sonic the Hedgehog game, but the fact that we all stuck to sims really was odd.
Except for one staff member. Our resident PC gamer Mike Eaton decided to go in a different direction entirely. “In my mind there’s only one real choice: Team Fortress 2.”
That’s some outside of the box thinking. He’s wrong for the one reason that all online games are just wrong (if the online dies for whatever reason, he’s got nothing), but to have your gut instinct work with a free, popular, online game wasn’t a bad strategy. Its not like TF2 is going down anytime soon and its not like the game is a one trick pony. “TF2 is constantly being updated, has a ton of different modes, features nine unique player classes which are completely different from one another, and has a massive community that (unlike most online games) is made up of people who aren’t completely terrible to each other. You could almost LITERALLY spend the rest of your life playing this game, and it would never get old.”
If it stays online, TF2 is a sound choice. Its the dirty cheaters choice though, since he could just use the game to signal people to his whereabouts, however I do respect the idea of him sitting back after killing some wild boar and keeping a game of TF2 alive while stuck secluded on his private island.
The Island Crossings
Mike’s poorly thought out choice aside, I’m really beginning to come around to the idea that a simulation game is the only choice that can be made for this. It has to be something non-linear because as much as we like to watch a good movie or read a good book, eventually there comes a time when you just lose interest in watching it again. Games fortunately have the wonderful ability to expand themselves out indefinitely. While I’m sure somebody out there can only play a game of Final Fantasy for the rest of their lives, eventually the same story and gameplay will chop you down.
Animal Crossing or The Sims seem to stand out as the best options both on theme and replayability. As Andres Ruiz put it: “Animal Crossing was designed with people marooned on a deserted island in mind. With a game that changes as the days go by, being stranded on an island with this game might be pretty awesome. Plus, how often do you get to live a near-parallel life to a video game? I would go fishing and then go fishing. I would go gather fruits and then go gather fruits. I would make friends with animals and then cry myself to sleep.”