Over at Eurogamer, writer Cassandra Khaw shares a deeply personal story of how Pokémon Sun has helped her in a time of grief.
Here, she explains how the sunny good cheer of Alola provides a welcoming break, a theme she explores throughout the full article.
Over the months, I’ve learned to diversify in regards to ‘things that make it all slightly better.’ Being non-religious, I don’t have the comfort of worship and, living in the UK, I don’t have the security of a home turf. But I do have access to media, particularly an endless rotation of video games. In the last eight months or so, I’ve cycled through a variety of happy-go-lucky titles, bouncing between worlds where death isn’t an inevitability but a niggling inconvenience.
Starbound, Yo-kai Watch 1 and 2, Stardew Valley, and now – Pokémon Sun.
Is it escapism? In part, yes. These games have nothing to do with realism whatsoever. The values and thematic ideas they evangelize are, in many instances, innocent. Be good. Be responsible. Be compassionate for fuck’s sake. Their worlds are uncomplicated, built on the belief that friendship and optimism will always triumph. A lie, if you want to be cynical about it.
But you know what? That’s not always a terrible thing.
Happy games don’t always get the credit they deserve. They’re considered casual or juvenile no matter how deep their mechanics go. But as Khaw explains, simple good cheer has its benefits, and escaping into it can be a healing experience, however temporary.