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Gaming with the seasons

31 May 2013

For most gamers, the weather outside doesn't matter one bit. I myself have spent many a beautiful sunny day inside playing video games for hours. Gaming is fun--why shouldn't we spend the occasional beautiful day indoors relaxing with a controller in our hands? We are gamers and playing games is what we gamers are all about, but are we doing it right? Are we playing the right game during the right season during the right weather?

I don't think many of us care about the weather outside when we are about to embark on a 24-hour dungeon crawl, but maybe we should. Could dreary grinding feel better on a day when the world around you feels a bit glum? I have spent thousands of hours with a controller (or a mouse and keyboard) in front of a screen and I've noticed that my gaming experience can be enhanced by what is going on outside my window.

The weather outside can increase the level of immersion in your favorite game. If it is raining in the game you're playing and you hear the rainfall against your windows and your roof in the real world, you can get a supercharged sense of "being" in that game. You feel like you are in that world and (for me, at least) that is an incredible feeling. Where I live, all four seasons are markedly different, and my decisions on what games I want to play sometimes depend on the season.

With the changing of the leaves and the cooler weather, fall starts off quite beautifully. Games that I find benefit the most from the vibrant colors of the leaves are games that are very colorful like Okami and Persona. Fast-forward a few weeks toward winter, however, and the outdoors ends up looking pretty gloomy. If you want to really feel your games during this period, try experiences like Dark Souls and Heavy Rain. These two games are great examples of weather-complimented games because both not only have dark environments but also dark narratives which sync up nicely with the dreary surroundings of fall.

With winter comes a lot of cold and snow which opens up some great opportunities for arctic- and winter-themed games to shine. I would definitely recommend queuing up something like Uncharted 2 or Skyrim in the middle of a blizzard or during any snowstorm. Aside from the weather conditions providing benefits of immersion, these games pair beautifully with winter because they offer so much adventure in a season that, for the most part, lacks adventure. Of course, gaming during winter assumes that a blizzard hasn't knocked out your power!

Spring is all about things coming to life; during this gorgeous season, I would play games that have a high focus on creativity. Build new worlds or revive old ones in games like LittleBigPlanet, Flower, and Terraria. In fact, Flower is probably the quintessential spring game. Nothing fits the blooming of trees, flowers, and flora better--the entire premise of Flower is to revive plants and bring life to the world. When it's not raining, pull up the shades, open the windows, and let the nice, cool breeze roll in while you let your imagination run wild. Next spring, take Flower outside on your PS Vita for even more sensory goodness!

Summer has a lot of very hot days where you find yourself not wanting to do anything but hang around where there is air conditioning. This gives us a lot of time (assuming you have air conditioning) to kick back in our own place and power up our favorite games and catch up on games we haven't had time to play yet. There's opportunity for every genre to shine in summer. Sports games like Tiger Woods PGA TOUR and MLB: The Show play well on hot, clear days, whereas measured experiences like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Catherine might play best during spare bits of bad weather.

Now, I'm not saying that you should only play games this way, pairing them with weather that boosts your sense of immersion. Games are fun to play on any day, and having to wait to play a new game just because the weather isn't right could be a real drag. However, doing so is great for those moments where you find yourself seeking a gaming experience that bridges the gap between game and reality. In these instances, look no further than the weather outside your window and play accordingly.

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