What Games Are You Playing To Cope With Stress?

What Games Are You Playing To Cope With Stress?

You know what sucks? Everything. This weekend, instead of engaging with the world, I crawled under the covers like an enormous baby and played some puzzle games on my phone.

Being politically engaged and reading the news is pretty important, but it’s just as important to recognise that sometimes you need a break. After Friday, oh boy did I ever need a break — not just from the wider world, but from all media that required interpreting or understanding a narrative whatsoever. There’s a folder on my iPhone that I open in times of stress and it contains exactly three games: Drop 7, Two Dots and Dots & Co.

I actually started playing the games from the developer Dots (where my friend and Kotaku freelancer Amanda Cosmos does QA) during the US Presidential debates, and it felt great. The game is adorable, and it’s both shallow and deep enough to occupy my mind without overloading my brain. You connect dots to make squares. Perfect. Drop 7 I picked up after reading Kirk Hamilton’s description of it on our list of best iPhone games.

Indulging in these games are less a matter of putting my fingers in my ears and ignoring the outside world than acknowledging that if I think too hard about “alternative facts”, my brain is going to explode. What games do you play to cope with stress, readers? Bonus points for new puzzle games to check out.


  • Shakes and Fidget – Free game on steam (Mobile game too I’m pretty sure) It really should be boring as hell, but being a pure stat driven game, I’m all over it like a fat kid on cupcakes

  • When I’m stressed and just need to chill out a bit, I like to play Journey. Second favourite after that would be Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Journey has the advantage that I can play all the way through it in 2 hours.

  • No Mans Sky. Found it so cathartic. No multiplayer, so it wasn’t competitive, just chill out and find some shit. Add to that the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack and other 70s and 80s pop and rock, really easy to chill to for me.

  • As someone diagnosed with a chronic anxiety disorder, I have a lot of ways to decompress. One of my favorites is a game called Bonza (and it’s sister, Bonza, National Geographic) created by Australian company, Minimega. Other than that, there’s Sudoku, Crosswords, reading, programming, listening to music, playing the piano and my guitars or riding my motorcycle. Pretty much anything that doesn’t have a timer or multiplayer… No wonder I spend so much time on my own.

  • Any MMO, i usually swap between SWTOR and Secret World, both have excellent stories that you can just ride along with at your own pace, with the occasional conversation or party to still give the social aspect.

    • For sure. Had a shit run recently and have smashed through to level 40 on FFXIV in a week. Just sit down, get an idea of how to level up and bash buttons and watch numbers fly around for a few hours.

    • Agree, I was going to say some real story driven games or survival games. Something that sucks you in and takes your complete attention, helps you forget about the world if you’re completely distracted from it, plus depending on the game an emotional outlet.

  • Binding of Isaac is my stress relief game. I must get stressed a lot as i have 600 hours of play time according to Steam..

  • I find the action Rogue-likes/lites are good options (Spelunky/Caveblazers/Binding of Isaac/etc.) – they’re strenuous enough to provide distraction, but brief enough not to require significant investment (especially when death is so swift, and often somewhat comical)

    Another good option I find are solid mobile ports of little ‘engine building’ board games such as Splendor

    Sometimes when you need a good chunk of time away from reality though then the open world splatterfests can be especially cathartic; Dead Rising, Dying Light, EDF..

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