Viridi: A Joke, or the Future of Self Care-Based Video Games?

 

Do you live in a dense city without much vegetation or living space? Are you the type whose green thumb is so dead you couldn’t get a rash of kudzu to grow if you tried? Maybe, like so many of us, you just need a minute or two more of quiet in your day?  Then breathe a sigh of relief, my friends. Now you, too, can grow your very own no-hassle pot of succulents with Viridi, a brand new video game designed by Ice Water Games. 

Before anyone automatically dismisses this genius creation with an eye roll at the Internet Age, I want you to just watch the beautiful introductory video, what with its vivid colors, soothing soundtrack (honestly, I could listen to this original playlist all day), and wide variety of choices. Did I mention this masterpiece will be free for Android and iPhone users (although if you just can’t wait there’s a desktop version already available as well) and upgrades cost just a few cents?  Even better — unlike meditation apps or reading, which require stillness and no distractions — Viridi sounds like the optimal tool for peace on the go. You even have a fun little snail pal to chill with if gardening from your screen starts to feel too lonely. Just see if it’s doesn’t grow on you.

On a more serious note, Viridi becomes an even more necessary alternative in a world where actual Black nerd problems can sometimes make other games full of violence, misogyny, or just plain erasure feel like they add to the trauma.  Sometimes you don’t even have the mental energy to feel relieved by games like Bejeweled or Tetris since they’re still built with a competitive edge that can easily trigger stress. Studies have shown that as Black people our likelihood of developing PTSD is as high as 33–43 % compared to the general population’s 9%; another study by the CDC (found here) claims we’re 4% more likely to report symptoms of major depression.

Although I’m certainly not suggesting Viridi will alleviate problems with mental health, having those few moments of quiet respite devoid of problematic people can be invaluable, whether it’s needing a break to ground yourself from the latest news story or another unchecked micro-aggression at work. In fact, because the music is so unobtrusive and there aren’t obnoxious sound effects to worry about, many players have chosen to just leave Viridi up in a hidden tab at the office for easy access.

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The game isn’t without its downfalls, of course. As one reviewer unfortunately found out, over watering can still damage your plant, although I’d say the ability to dig it out and start anew is a fair trade off. Whether Viridi is here to lead us to a glorious future of portable relaxation has yet to be seen, however. “It’s not much,” Kevin Maxon, the game’s technical lead told Co.Design, “but it makes a statement: ‘This plant is valuable in and of itself.'”  And really, what more could you ask for from your own personal plot of digital Eden than that?

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