The Electronics Entertainment Expo, commonly known as E3, is one of the biggest video game conferences in the world – a place where developers can go all out and create hype for some of their most anticipated titles.
“When you generally think of gaming, I get the feeling that a lot of people maybe think of shooting games and competitive shooting games,” she told ABC Audio. “And comfortable games are probably the exact opposite of that spectrum.”
Rose, who calls herself “Cozy K” on social media, says one of the community favorites in this genre is a title called Stardew Valley, where players farm a farm and connect with virtual townspeople. Another popular title in the genre is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which sold over thirty million copies last year according to Nintendo, the game’s developer.
Gambling is a big part of Rose’s life, and she says it started early.
“My family, like, collected video game consoles and so, as far back as I can remember, I played video games with my family and that’s how my brother and I bonded,” he says. it.
Rose graduated from law school last spring, and says that while studying for the bar exam, gambling has become a way for her to unwind after a long day.
“School has been my priority for most of my life, and I would say midway through law school, you know, just normal stress – I was like ‘I need a better coping mechanism. ‘”
Soon after, Rose created an Instagram account, where you can find photos of her Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops, and keyboards; alongside incense, teacups, candles and earth-toned blankets. She says on Instagram, she found out that she wasn’t the only one cultivating a comfortable feed.
“I saw this little community on Instagram and I was like ‘I want to be a part of it,’” says Rose. “I just want to join this community and I just want to share my love for these games.”
Matt White is the CEO of Whitethorn Digital, which publishes indie games like Beasts of Maravilla Island, where players take on the role of a wildlife photographer on a tropical island, and Beans, which bills itself as a “coffee simulator.”
“The purpose of our brand, as a company, was definitely to help people relax,” White said.
This fall, Whitethorn plans to release Lake, where players take on the role of a postwoman named Meredith who returns to her quaint lakeside hometown. Choose yourself adventure game lets players talk to various characters, drive a mail truck, rekindle old relationships, or just stay home and read a book. At the end of the game, players are faced with a final decision: to have Meredith return to her demanding job in the big city, or stay in the city where she grew up.
“I mean it’s literally about driving the postal mail around the lake,” White explains. “It’s as stress free as it gets.”
Cozy games aren’t limited to farming simulators and Hallmark-style stories. Some people find the horror genre relaxing, White says.
Carrion, for example, allows players to inhabit an amorphous tentacle monster terrorizing an underground facility full of unsuspecting humans.
“A violent game can always be a game played casually,” White says. “Something like Carrion … I mean it’s violent and disgusting, but the way you play it is extremely laid back, fun and silly.”
White says that whatever the topic, his criteria for comfortable play ultimately boils down to three things: play needs to be accessible, stress-free, and bite-sized.
“Anyone, anywhere, can play this – from your grandma to, say, your player-rated Halo son – it has to be the same kind of accessibility. We also say it’s without. stress, so that means that even though you might lose, or it might be difficult, we’re not going to, like, take hours away from your progress or give you a low ranking. ” White says, adding, “We’re also saying bite-sized. That doesn’t mean the game itself is necessarily short – you can spend hundreds of hours in Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, but rather it means that the game is designed in such a way that you can have a super full and complete experience in a relatively short sitting. “
White says the games published by his company are designed for the “anxiety economy,” which also includes products designed to aid relaxation, like CBD drinks, weighted blankets and restless spinners.
He says the games are targeting gamers who don’t have as much time for the hobby as they used to.
“It allows those of us who have finally built the industry to what it is right now – you know, millennials in general – it allows us to continue playing in a way that we are. hard to do otherwise if we – if we’re kind enough to, you know, grown up. “
Comfortable indie games are generally cheaper than big titles like Ghost of Tsushima or Cyberpunk 2077, which can cost over $ 60. They are also available on more accessible devices, like the Nintendo Switch, as opposed to more expensive consoles like the Playstation 5 or the XBox Series X.
The relative affordability of comfortable games goes beyond economics. According to White, the comfortable gaming audience has struggled to find themselves represented among mainstream games.
“Unfortunately for anyone in this world who doesn’t look like a straight, white, able-bodied man, there isn’t much representation of you in games.”
White says the industry has made strides in recent years, but points out that there is a lot more work to be done in terms of including representations of different genders, races, and sexual orientations in games.
“As the audience changes and changes, I think they also grow and become more inclusive. And I think that’s very important, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s the health of our industry. “
If her Instagram posts are any indication, some of that work could start with Kennedy “Cozy K” Rose.
“There are a lot of people who contact me and say, ‘I never knew that other people just like to play this type of games and I feel so seen. I had never felt seen in the play space before, ”said Rose.
Listen to ABC Audio’s Mike Dobuski report on comfortable games: