Friday Fun: CityLab Picks the Best Games of 2020

In the year of stay-at-home orders, people turned to old and new games to stay sane and stay connected.

1 minute read

January 1, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Pandemic Board Game

Padaguan / Pandemic board game

Unsurprisingly, the gaming industry is emerging as one of the few winners of 2020, with millions of people sheltering in their homes and skipping gatherings with friends. From digital wonderlands to old-school board games, the year saw a massive spike in the popularity of at-home entertainment. CityLab's Marie Patino put together a list of the most interesting and engaging games of the year.

Whether you want to explore tropical islands, grow a surreal garden, or even stave off a global pandemic(in the eponymously named Pandemic, originally released in 2008), you can find a game that will help you forget reality—or laugh at it. One game definitely created in and for 2020: Karen: An Outrage Simulator, which lets you berate cashiers and ask for the manager while refusing to wear your mask. Of special interest to transportation nerds: Mini Metro, a subway simulator that lets players lay down tracks and build subway networks to accommodate increasing ridership.

In a year filled with grief, there are games for that too. CityLab recommends Spiritfarer, in which the player helps stray spirits accomplish their last wish, and GRIS, a visually stunning journey of resilience through trauma. For many people who couldn't mourn in traditional ways because of COVID-19 restrictions, creating virtual memorials in games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons can have surprisingly powerful healing effects.

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