Many games revolve around conflict and fighting, the struggle to prove one's superiority to another via online competition or by overcoming single-player challenges. With October being Bullying Prevention Month, we thought it might be a great idea to spotlight some game series that focus on learning to appreciate and work with others. No one likes bullying, but it's unfortunately the case that children who need medical care or live with conditions that lead others to perceive them differently are more at risk to be on the receiving end of bullying.
We've taken the opportunity of this month to talk about a few games that might help someone who has been bullied feel less alone. On the flip side, these titles might be used to teach kids who may engage in bullying behavior about empathy and learning to appreciate the differences between people. Plus, they are all just great game series that everyone should play at least once!
ConcernedApe, the lone developer behind one of the most beloved indie games of the past few years, really knows how to put together a town of interesting characters. Players take on the role of a character who leaves the bustling and soul-crushing city to take care of their grandfather's farm in a town called Stardew Valley. The dilapidated old farm leaves much to be desired, but through hard work and dedication players can restore the farm to its former glory and befriend the colorful cast of locals.
Stardew Valley doesn't really have an antagonist outside of the looming corporate interests of Jo-Jo Mart. The game emphasizes friendship and co-operation, something that came into clearer focus when a co-op mode was added to the game last year. This lack of social friction makes Stardew Valley an ideal escape from the stresses of real world living. Many people find it to be a comforting experience that helps them heal and face the world again.
People looking for a game that teaches kindness and emphasizes communal harmony, two things that fly in the face of bullying, couldn't do much better than this game about farming and friendship.
From the very beginning of the series, Animal Crossing has been about making friends, performing acts of community service, and contributing to the greater good. Those same basic concepts have been present across all future entries in the franchise. It's a game about interacting with a world where conflict is largely absent, a rarity in video games. It also takes place in real time, encouraging players to make continual, daily investments into their digital communities.
In Animal Crossing, players move to a new town and find themselves unexpectedly roped into a money-making scheme by local businessman Tom Nook. From there, players can weed the town to make it more pleasant for themselves and their neighbors and give gifts to their fellow townsfolk. When the various animals in town like the main character enough, they might choose to live in town permanently. This is all done without a main antagonist (unless you count the comedic opposition of characters like Tom Nook or Mr. Resetti). Players can also contribute to the local museum to help the community learn more about wildlife and the natural wonders of the world. There are countless ways players are encouraged to live in harmony with the other residents of their town.
If ever there was a game that emphasized the greater good and living in peace with all kinds of different people, it's Animal Crossing.
The Fire Emblem series has a long and storied history of encouraging social interaction between its myriad of different characters. Sometimes they begin as enemies and other times as amicable rivals, but over time they learn to respect and even love one another. A major theme across all of the games deals with the bonds people forge between one another in their communities.
Unlike the other two games highlighted so far, Fire Emblem does involve a fair bit of combat. Players take on the role of a strategic commander giving orders to units on a battlefield. The more that the player's units, who all have names, histories, and personalities, fight next to one another, the more their bond develops. Once that bond reaches certain levels, the two unites can hold a conversation in which they poke fun at one another, express their desires and passions, or even reveal crucial plot details.
Fire Emblem is a series where numerous people from different social and political backgrounds with differing views and physical appearances all come together to work for a common goal. Watching people learn about those differences and embrace them, learning about the little quirks that make them human, it helps the player appreciate the differences between people in the real world - and maybe help bridge the divide when things seem unfamiliar.
What sorts of games do you play to find a positive sense of community or connection with others?
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!