I did not expect that I would ever Google something like “will Big Ben bong?” in service to an article for RPS, and yet here we are – and it turns out it will not. The big B day has arrived, not with a bong but a whimper. It’s a sore subject for a lot of us (stuff disappearing off of Netflix; my partner is European and won’t have to queue as long at airports), a genuinely frightening one for others (unknown economic impact; forced repatriation).
As in most times of stress, I turn to video games for both a distraction from and mirror to life. I don’t even mean obviously Brexit-y things like Not Tonight or Spinnortality. There are many games notionally unrelated to today that nonetheless feel apposite to play. Here are a few that I thought of.
The Sims has always existed as, partially, a kind of wish fulfilment. When I was a child I played it to build aspirational versions of my 30 year old self, in a big mansion with loads of money; now I am actually 30 and I am grateful to be able to afford rent on a flat. In The Sims 4, fulfil your wildest dreams by building a home that you like and cherish, decorated exactly how you want. Move to a tropical island and become a mermaid. Advance up your chosen career path with ease. All equally possible and realistic. Truly, The Sims 4 is a game that offers no limits.
Lucas Pope’s much lauded 2013 simulation about working as a border crossing guard is repetitive and meditative enough to disconnect your brain, but absorbing enough to distract you for many hours. Each traveller who comes to your crossing booth has to supply an increasingly complex set of paperwork, with different visas and stamps on their passport. Woe betide them if any of it is out of order, as you’ll send ’em packing. And woe betide you if you make any mistakes or miss your quota for the day.
Papers, Please is one of those games that spills out into your real life notebook, as you frantically scribble down the new rules you’re sent that you can’t fit on screen all at once. It’s also an admirable simulation of overly complex border crossings.
Euro Truck Sim has long been a favourite here at the treehouse. The humble road trip is underrated as a way to see the world, and indeed in this road trip you have an actual purpose driving you forwards. For the more management minded, Euro Truck allows you to build a mighty transportation empire across the continent, a business built on trade and travel. If you’re just looking for a quiet drive, however, there’s a wealth of DLC that will allow you to visit famous landmarks and cities all over Europe from the comfort of your own home, since travel is about to get less convenient.
On the other hand, what about a game with no borders at all? Where borders don’t exist as a concept, even? Proteus is a lovely game where you go on a lovely walk, and that’s it. Your primary interaction with the environment is being there and looking at it. Those trees are lovely, so why would you want to chop them down to build a boring hut or a pickaxe or whatever? No, just walk, and watch the sky change, and listen to the lovely music. Ah, isn’t that nice? Yes. Yes it is.
Similarly, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture offers, in my opinion, the ideal way to visit classic English country villages like the one I grew up in. Experience the thatched cottages, the rolling hills, the incomparable beauty of the countryside in sunshine. All this and more, but the locals who were a bit suspicious of that foreign wife of Wendy and Eddie’s boy are all gone. You won’t have to have any conversations about the merits of fox hunting and real ale. You can just amble about looking at flowers. Bliss.
In the spirit of mutual cooperation in which we are no doubt about to move forward, Europa Universalis is a great pick no matter which side of the vote you fell. The advanced Euro-sceptics among our readers will love the Rule Britannia DLC, where they can achieve great feats like forming the UK and subjugating France. Indeed, the trailer for Rule Britannia sounds pretty much exactly like something Jacob Rees-Mogg would say whilst standing proudly, legs akimbo, before a local town hall meeting in Somerset. See him gesticulating with a stale petit four pressed upon him by the councillor’s wife, as he earnestly talks of British innovations like the 250 year old Spinning Jenny, for fuck’s sake.
On the other hand, you could start as Brussels (or at least somewhere close like Flanders) and then set out to conquer the UK.