7 things we're thankful for in gaming this year

The friendships, generosity, and stories in video games that have carried us through a challenging year.

2020 has attempted to ground pound us into misery with more regularity than Mario stomps Goombas. It’s more important than ever, therefore, to take the time to be thankful for the positive aspects in our lives. Video games have certainly provided plenty of escapism for us during a tough year, so in the run up to Thanksgiving we’d like to share the ways we’re grateful for their presence. Here are the seven things we’re thankful for in gaming this year.

7 things we’re thankful for in gaming

1. The positive popularity boom

7 things we're thankful for in gaming positive popularity
 
© Nintendo, Mediatonic

The mighty axe of Social media certainly swings two ways, but when things are good, they’re really great. The release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons this March brought waves of cheer to our timelines as players shared adorable moments, stunning islands, and ingenious custom patterns. It was hard to escape the relentless positivity, and we’re especially thankful that it offered the chance to invite friends over to hang out at our virtual homes while unable to in person.

Animal Crossing has continued to receive updates but the fanfare around it has petered out somewhat. Thankfully, other games have risen to fill the surprisingly optimistic void. Mediatonic’s Fall Guys burst onto the scene in August, delivering the ceaselessly entertaining slapstick comedy of 60 coloured beans tumbling through, bouncing around, and falling off obstacle courses. 

Bursting at the seams with generous customization options, the little-indie-game-that-could has partnered with the likes of Sonic, Godzilla, Half-Life, and Untitled Goose Game. It even raised more than a million dollars for the Special Effect charity within a month of its life. A life, we should add, made all the more entertaining thanks to the team’s Social media manager. Seriously, go follow their Twitter account. Thank you for keeping us laughing each day, Fall Guys!

More than just wholesome escapes, video games have offered a chance for people around the globe to band together and laugh or make memes about silly, inconsequential things like the PS5 design or our favorite games.

2. Scaring us witless

If all that relentless positivity is messing with your respectably gothic vibe, gaming even provided the answer there too. The run up to spooks season saw two-year-old release Among Us explode in popularity as friends jumped into space to complete tasks, backstab their friends, and, most importantly, point out that Red is acting sus. Among Us has offered up yet another avenue to engage in a bit of social fun with our distant friends, even if most of it is played in utterly silent panic. 

Following hot on Among Us’ indie heels was Phasmophobia, a co-op game which mashed Ghostbusters with Cluedo and somehow managed to be the most terrifying thing we’ve played this year. Piecing together what type of spirit is haunting each home you visit is harrowing – and occasionally hilarious if it’s your friend who gets eaten – yet we can’t help but want to come back for more. As we all know, friends who spook together, stay together. Just don’t make us play it in VR, please?

3. Filling that social space

Gaming thanksgiving things we're thankful for
 
© Monster Couch

Seeing our friends this year has been tricky, and there are only so many Zoom calls you can sit through before the appeal starts to wane. Throughout 2020, video games have offered a chance to catch up with mates in a more relaxed setting, where we don’t have to be talking constantly or paying full attention to one another. We’re thankful for digital board games in particular which, while never perfectly capturing the essence of the real deal, have offered a much less intensive time hanging out over a game. Valorant matches are fun and all but sometimes you just want to forget about headshots, kick back, and move some pieces around on a board with your pals.

4. When gaming comes together

Video games don’t just have to benefit us as individuals, either. This year has proven that more than most, with the gaming community rallying around charitable causes and civil rights movements to really make a difference. Fall Guys may have made quite the splash but it wasn’t the only charity gaming event this year: Back in February, JuJu and HyperX teamed up for an auction which raised money for youth initiatives; the Play Apart Together campaign in April saw celebs battle it out online to support COVID-19 relief; June saw itch.io’s Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality raise over $8m; and pride month, as ever, saw gaming communities and companies team up for online tournaments and merchandise sales supporting various charities and non-profit organizations. The generosity of everyone involved has made us proud to be part of the community.

2020 has also given a chance to highlight, support, and be thankful for the incredible work being done by others in the industry. The AbleGamers Foundation has long been helping allow more people access to the hobby we love, Cxmmunity is working to improve minority participation in gaming and esports through college support, and the 1,000 Dreams fund recently hosted the BroadcastHer summit to help women in streaming and gaming achieve their dreams. 

We’re also extremely grateful for the range of mental health resources available for the gaming community, including CheckPoint, Safe in our World, Take This, and more. The full details and connections to each can be found by clicking here.

5. Offering something to look forward to

video game thanksgiving thankful
 
© Sucker Punch

When you’re spending each weekend stuck indoors, the weeks and months all seem to blend together. Thankfully, the launch of new games (not to mention the next generation of consoles) has given us something to mark on the calendar and add some much needed structure to our lives. Whether it’s AAA behemoths like Ghost of Tsushima, indie delights like Necrobarista, online events, or award shows, games have really given us something to anticipate with only only one or two big date slips. Sorry, Halo fans.

6. Giving us stories

Things in gaming we're thankful for 2020
 
© Toge Productions

The Cinema industry has taken a bit of a backseat in 2020, but thankfully video games have stepped up to the plate, delivering stories big and small to warm, tear, and steel our hearts. While working through the long hours of Ellie and Abby’s tale in The Last of Us Part 2 certainly didn’t disappoint, we’re equally thankful for the smaller yet no less impactful stories of indie titles like Coffee Talk for filling our rainy weekend afternoons (and making us more than a little thirsty).

7. Keeping us healthy

Things we're thankful for in gaming 2020 fitness ring fit adventure
 
© Nintendo

And finally, we’d very much like to come out of the tail end of this year with functioning limbs, which is no small ask when gyms are off limits. Finding the motivation for home workouts can be challenging, but once again gaming has given us the squat kick up rear we required. We were never even close to wrapping up Ring Fit Adventure to begin with, which made this year the chance to pick it up properly and stick it to that big oaf Dragaux. Fitness Boxing 2 also released on Switch this year, and those lucky enough to own VR headsets could also get a good sweat on at home thanks to games like Pistol Whip, Beat Saber and BoxVR. Thanks for trying your hardest to keep us at least somewhat in shape this year, video games!

Those were some of the key things we’re thankful for this year in gaming, but what about you? Share the gaming details you appreciate with us in the comments below.

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video game journalism stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry.stenhouse@allgamers.com, or catch him on Twitter.

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