Played Animal Crossing over the weekend, or Wordle on this morning’s commute? For 75% of Australians, video games are a part of everyday life, with people from across the country looking to games — and not just the first-person shooter variety — as a way to connect, relax and escape from the stresses of modern life.
In fact, one of the biggest gaming trends, ‘cosy games’, is seeing continued popularity in our post-pandemic world. Referring to wholesome and feel-good games like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, Disney Dreamlight Valley and New Pokemon Snap, Twitch has seen millions of people from across the service choosing to stream (and tune into) cosy games with Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing alone followed by a whopping 1.4M and 2.7M people respectively.
We spoke to Aussie Twitch streamer Emily – known for her handle /emiloo – to find out more about cosy games – why everyone loves them, the role Twitch has played, and her personal favourite game!
What characteristics of a game do you think contribute to its ‘cosiness’?
I think there are a lot! For some people it’s the music, art style, slow paced tasks, soft colour palettes. For me personally I think it’s about the gameplay, more specifically the absence of danger and risk. But, in saying that, there are some cosy games that do have that element of risk such as Minecraft, but then it has its music, aesthetic and slower paced gameplay to make it still feel cosy.
Why do you think people are increasingly gravitating towards cosy games?
It’s a way for people to relax after a long day and also a form of escapism. I know for me personally when I used to come home from school or now when I come home from work I want a game that isn’t too stressful and that doesn’t require much skill or practice. It’s also a way for people to do things they wouldn’t do or can’t do in real life. For example, in Stardew Valley you own a farm and plant crops, mine, fish and much more. Another example is The Sims where you can literally do anything, from being an astronaut to becoming a vampire.
There is often a misconception that all games are action-packed, or involve violence. Do you believe cosy games are dismantling this stereotype about gaming?
For a long time, video games have been a male-dominated industry with action and first-person shooter games, and the popularity of cosier games has definitely helped close the stereotype that “video games are only for boys”. There is a game for everyone out there, no matter your gender!
So I believe in a way, yes. I think the rise of cosy games has helped people get into gaming as a whole as well, because cosy games are a lot more inviting and user-friendly for people who may have never played a video game in their life.
What role has Twitch played in the rise in popularity of cosy games?
A huge role. When pandemic isolation was at its peak, people were at home either working or doing school work and a lot of people turned to Twitch to just have a stream on in the background. Cosy games provide the perfect lurkable space (“lurk” or “lurking” is a term used on Twitch to describe when someone has a stream open and playing, but isn’t chatting or active in the stream). I know many members of my community come into stream and say hello and chat for a bit and then either start playing a game themselves or continue with their work/school.
As a streamer, it is also much easier to talk to viewers while playing cosier games as I don’t have to focus too much on what is going on in game but the nice music is still there in the background. Twitch has also made it a lot easier for people to discover cosy games. Watching people play games is a great way to see whether you will like it or not.
Three of my favourite cosy streamers to watch on Twitch would have to be /8bitElliott, /elysa and /caaaaate. All three of these streamers have such warm and welcoming communities and they play a lot of cosy games that I love such as Minecraft, Animal Crossing and Coral Island. I had the pleasure of meeting them recently at PAX Australia and it was so nice to meet people that you have looked up to for a long time in person. I highly recommend them (they are all Aussie as well)!
What is your favourite cosy game of all time, and why do you love it?
My favourite cosy game of all would have to be The Sims franchise. I have been playing The Sims off and on since I was about 5 years old. My dad actually introduced me to The Sims. I remember bringing in a dining chair into our home office and I would sit there for hours watching him build houses and playing with the families he would make. I started to properly play The Sims 2, 3 and now 4 when I was around 10 and have been playing ever since! The reason why I always say it is my favourite game is because it has always brought me such comfort and somewhere to escape (especially when I was in high school).
The Sims is also the first ever game I streamed on Twitch and have continued to stream to this day. The Sims community is definitely one of the main reasons why I keep coming back to it. I love hearing about everyone’s different storylines they have made up, or the challenges that they are doing in the game at the moment, which is another reason why I love it so much because there is no one way to play.
My favourite new cosy game would have to be Wylde Flowers. I have been playing off and on since it was released on Switch recently and I am in love with it. The voice acting, aesthetics and the story keep reeling me back in. It is also made by an Australian games studio and I love nothing more than finding great Aussie games.
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