With COVID-19 causing so many people across the world to self-isolate, attitudes and approaches towards these interventions are becoming more extreme.
Upon checking social media and talking to friends everyday, I have begun to realise that our attitudes towards ‘Social Distancing’, and the lack of normality that entails is reflected everywhere around us, all of the time.
I recognised that entertainment itself, as an industry, is designed to take emotions and experiences we encounter everyday to it’s upmost extremity, to provide a form of ‘escapism’.
This is particularly notable in Video Games, and so, I have compiled a list of “10 Video Game Characters That Reflect Different Approaches to Social Distancing”, referencing personas self-isolation has made evident, mirrored in video game worlds.
10. Kirby (Kirby, Nintendo)
This one is for all you ‘Quarantine Foodies’ out there – Kirby, one of Nintendo’s mascot characters, and one of the most well know characters in the industry, is the ‘titular pink puff’ who has been starring in their own Kirby label games.
I added Kirby to the list, as I feel that Kirby’s excessive appetite, but more importantly their undeniable passion for eating, has made itself relevant to lockdown, proceeding 2020’s COVID-19.
I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve put on more than a few pounds myself, but Kirby takes it to a level only matched by those so bored, so tired, and so hungry; Kirby’s eating habits reflect the gluttony many of us have found ourselves entangled with, but are yet to accept. (Despite Kirby’s favourite food being tomatoes, ironically)
Kirby’s love for food is so great, that eating is their super power. That’s right, you read that correctly – and what’s more, these powers are transferred to other games, in which Kirby makes an appearance, e.g. The Super Smash Brothers games – Kirby has been known to swallow enemies whole. (Digestion isn’t a problem, they get a lot of fibre.)
The pink marshmallow loves to help out Dreamland whenever possible, but the highest priority on Kirby’s list, always, is eating and sleeping. Kirby’s eating disorder has gotten worse with time, and now… Kirby has a taste for planets.
“I feel like some apple pie!” – Kirby shortly before completely consuming an entire universe
9. Ms. Pac-Man (Ms. Pac-Man Arcade Machine, Namco)
Ms. Pac-Man is a character that indefinitely reflects those who take care of their households; She reflects a working personality, a character who takes care of her children and makes sure the family is safe, while her husband, Pac-Man, is out on business.
From an unhappy, profit-based marriage, Ms. Pac-Man is left to care for the children and the house while the more ‘adventurous’ spouse is out on ‘work trips’. Ms. Pac-Man and her husband share the same business, and she does work in the maze industry, but like so many one-sided relationships, she is left to do all of the other work at home, while Pac-Man guzzles pellets, while watching ‘the game’.
I’m sure I speak for all mothers in isolation when I say that we could all do a bit more to pitch in around the house, as taking care of children is testing enough as it is – without having to clean up behind them.
Ms. Pac-Man has two children, Jr. Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man, and despite the fact that the children are now getting older, they came home to the ‘Pac-Household’ in time for quarantine – something protocol suggests being ‘wise’. I know for a fact that this is common among families in quarantine, and I’m sure that this means all of you ‘Ms. Pac-mans’, have plenty on your plate.
“For God’s sake Puck, when are you going to put down those damned pellets and do the dishes?” – Ms. Pac-Man, tired of always having to do the housework
8. GLaDOS (Portal, Portal 2, Valve)
I chose to place GLaDOS on this list, as I feel she reflects the passive-aggressive hostility that has shown itself, particularly on social media, during lockdown. The super-intelligent computer system acts as the antagonist in Valve’s Portal, and Portal 2, undoubtedly fantastic games, and in part, because of GLaDOS.
GLaDOS’ witty one-liners, and her complete disregard for the player’s feelings, renders her one of the greatest video game characters of all time, and her passive-aggressive tone and increasingly malicious, but seemingly innocent nature makes her reflect the attitudes held by many social media users during COVID-19’s proceeding self-isolation stage.
Like GLaDOS, I feel that trolls, verbally malicious online presences, and others of the sort, using media as a platform for whitewashed torment as a means of eschewal, are built off of anger, or frustration toward guidelines and restriction, a consequence of being mistreated, and I am patiently waiting for my office to be flooded with neurotoxin, just as GLaDOS flooded her office with it, to kill you. (Although I’m not quite sure we are there yet, technologically)
“This next test involves turrets. You remember them, right? They’re the pale spherical things that are full of bullets. Oh wait. That’s you in five seconds. Good luck.“ – GLaDOS to Chel, a simple greeting
7. Chop Chop Master Onion (PaRappa The Rapper, Sony)
To all those ‘Self-taught meditation masters’ during quarantine, this one’s for you.
Chop Chop Master Onion, one of Masaya Matsuura’s more bizarrely designed characters, is a presence unmatched by any other – Not only is he PaRappa’s karate instructor, but also a TV Host, presenting the hit show ‘Romantic Karate’, in PaRappa The Rapper 2, teaching love and sensuality, through the art of whirlwind kicks.
Chop Chop Master Onion is also notably, a rap star, reaching #1 worldwide at a record speed, with his hit single, ‘Chop Chop Master Onion’s Rap’.
Like any other master of martial arts, Chop Chop Master Onion has mastered the art of self-awareness, of being one with emotion, and I’ve include him in this (now, very a-wall) list, as he acts as a sort of role model, something we should want to be – and more importantly need to be.
“Hm, yeah, I see you’re getting better.
Kick to the limit in order to get her now“ – Chop Chop Master Onion, rap advice on PaRappa’s romance debacle
6. The Prince (Katamari, Namco)
Number six on the list is The Prince, protagonist from the Katamari Series.
If you are reading this, and haven’t played any Katamari game, I would definitely recommend it – The games are particularly memorable, majorly for innovative design and gameplay mechanics, but also for pioneering a very interesting protagonist.
Despite the creativity, the gameplay is objectively very strange, the main objective being to acquire as much garbage, and street mess as you can. This gradually forms a giant manoeuvrable ball, becoming bigger and bigger as you collect more. As the ball gets larger, you acquire bigger things, gradually employing street benches, trees, small buildings – You collect literally anything you roll on, to reach the cosmos.
I included The Prince on this list, as I feel that he mirrors the current mentality of so many unaware trash accumulators. I think I speak on behalf of literally everyone on the planet, when I say self-isolation has meant that rubbish around the house is a bit more prominent – The odd yoghurt cup here, a couple candy wrappers there, in no time, we too will reach the cosmos in our little heaps of garbage.
“Oh! Look! A half-eaten sandwich! Wait, is that a used diaper! What a treat!” – The Prince on his day out in the town
5. Cooking Mama (Cooking Mama, Office Create)
Here’s one for all the ‘Cookstars’ this summer.
Quarantine, undoubtedly, is a perfect time to work on all of things you never normally have time for. Cooking is particularly prominent, and many people have used this time to become (somewhat adequate) home cooks.
The magic of the Cooking Mama games, is that Mama makes easy food, food you could do yourself. Mama doesn’t need to fancify everything! This provides the player with a sense of reliability – just an enthusiastic and loving person, with a wonderful spouse, two children, a mischievous Labrador, and an illegal undercover BitCoin mining operation.
Cooking Mama loves to make friends, loves cooking and loves being a key part in children’s lives, but most importantly, loves to learn new recipes and try them out, even if it goes wrong – That’s what being a home cook is all about.
“Damn! Those are some good egg rolls” – Cooking Mama, shortly after burning down her house trying to make egg rolls
4. Isabelle (Animal Crossing, Nintendo)
In truth, I think this picture speaks for itself.
Isabelle reflects the innocence and light-heartedness we almost have to inherit during a very tough time.
Isabelle is an absolute sweetheart, caring about her family, her friends, anther missing sock – But don’t worry! She found that behind the dishwasher.
Not only this, but Isabelle frequently uses her NookPhone to contact her parents via NookTime. Like so many people during quarantine, this is the only way Isabelle can talk to her loved ones, when stuck in a form of ‘isolation’, under Tom Nook.
“Phew! That’s a relief. I don’t like confrontation…” – Isabelle admitting she doesn’t like confrontation
3. Elder Furi (Moshi Monsters, Mind Candy)
Listen. It’s alright for personal hygiene to take a little fall, It happens to all of us. In fact, I could probably name about 5 friends with a haircut similar to Elder Furi.
Is it giving up, letting go? Perhaps some just don’t see a point – It’s not like we are seeing people, what with Coronavirus hitting the world like a selfish dumptruck, in need of gratification.
Nonetheless, Elder Furi, in my extremely professional opinion, reflects the lackadaisical nature of so many in this difficult time – No, I don’t mean they are lazy, I mean the simple things keeping everyone in check, ie. hair, are no longer vital in our lives. There’s just no enthusiasm.
Maybe you shave your hair to counteract this, but more commonly you let it grow out, into either A – magnificent locks, or B – Somewhat of a bird’s nest, the latter being the most common.
Note that this virtue doesn’t entail laziness, this year’s Elder Furis, I’m sure, have got lots of work done – but only reflect the unenthusiastic nature of personal hygiene, development, and honestly consistency.
“Furi, when are you going to shave off that thing?” – Elder Furi’s mother concerned about the size of his beard
2. Princess Peach (Super Mario, Nintendo)
I decided to include Princess Peach on this list, as I feel she truly reflects the dependency so many of us feel, and the ‘need to be rescued’.
Princess Peach, most famous for being kidnapped over and over by anarchistic villain Bowser, is always in need of rescue from fan-favourite, Mario.
In almost every single Super Mario game, the player plays as Mario, and the main objective of the game to rescue Princess Peach.
I feel that Princess Peach’s attitude and unrelenting need for help, is an attitude many of us share, and we are just waiting for our ‘Mario’.
“Mario, I need toilet paper too. Don’t forget that” – Mario’s instructions for grocery shopping
1. Snorlax (Pokémon, GameFreak)
At last, we have reached the final character, on this now extremely derailed list.
Snorlax, is objectively the most relatable character on this list, resorting to the comfort of sleep, to avoid the current state of the world. In Pokémon battles, Snorlax would ignore the fight, take a quick nap and still win. I decided to place Snorlax as Number 1, as I feel that this trait is mirrored by so many of us during the resulting quarantine of COVID-19.
Snorlax not only encompasses this specific lax trait, but also an amalgamation of all of the previous characters: The gluttony of Kirby, the ferocity of Ms. Pac-Man, GLaDOS’ ability to ridicule you without even trying, the peaceful nature of Chop Chop Master Onion, The Prince’s unnatural ability to gather random items, Cooking Mama’s taste for food, Isabelle’s innocence, Elder Furi’s terrible personal hygiene and Princess Peach’s dependency.
Snorlax is also a gentle giant, being docile enough to let people bounce on his belly as if he was a giant marshmallow. But don’t be fooled. Snorlax can show extreme strength when prompted, even beating Feraligatr in a sumo match, but honestly, he just wants to nap.
“It is not satisfied unless it eats over 880 pounds of food every day. When it is done eating, it goes promptly to sleep.” – Pokémon Fire Red’s extremely accurate Podédex entry – trust me.