Forget about the beach
That awful, glowing miasma of fire in the sky? That ball of malice is called "the sun," and for a few months out of the year it wanders closer to the earth and lights the surface ablaze. This sinful, awful time is called "the summer," and, for some reason, people take this as an excuse to travel outdoors and do menial activities. It's abhorrent, disgusting, and - most importantly - unnatural.
We officially stand against this. Going outside in the summer is a waste of everyone's time, but just in case you're a fan of some of the terrifying activities people frequently partake in during this so-called "season," we've found some solutions you can enjoy from the comfort (and safety) of your own home.
Instead of going to summer camp, play Psychonauts
The activity: Paying thousands of dollars so you can run around and kick soccer balls with socially awkward peers while power-tripping teenagers lord over them.
The replacement: Tim Schafer's Psychonauts actually takes place at a summer camp, but it's not your typical lame conglomeration of emotional pre-teens hoping to trip over second base with other emotional pre-teens. No, Whispering Rock Psychic summer camp is much more interesting, with attendees exploring camp counselors' minds instead of wading around a smelly lake. Well, alright, there's still some wading around a smelly lake, but it's in pursuit of a giant monster. Seriously, when's the last time anyone battled a sea monster at their local summer camp? Thought so.
Instead of swimming in a pool, play Ecco the Dolphin
The activity: Splashing around cold, pee-filled water.
The replacement: We're not going to pretend swimming isn't fun, but the odds of actually finding a nice, big, empty pool to enjoy are so low it's not worth the hassle. Instead, get all of the freedom of swimming without the fear of your trunks being pulled off by a bully with SEGA's Ecco the Dolphin. You can dive deep underwater, spin around, and then sprint back towards the top, leaping into the sky before crashing back down into the blue depths. There's plenty to do underwater besides trying to avoid mysterious pockets of warmth, like fighting enemies and interacting with fish that won't judge you.
Instead of socializing, play The Sims 3
The activity: Interacting with immature idiots who don't respect you.
The replacement: Though The Sims has never fully replicated the deep, depressing, soul-crushing nature of existence, it does a pretty good job of filling in for obligatory socialization with peers. Talking to peers, especially when they're not forced to be cordial by the obligation of seeing you at school, is a worthless experiment in futility, whereas you're never more than a few jokes and flirts away from a new friend in The Sims. A new friend that will never, ever judge you, even if you mistakenly burn your house down because it takes like 20 minutes to get from the bathroom to the kitchen.
Instead of camping, play Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
The activity: Ignoring over 1,000 years of human technological progress in favor of laying in the woods while insects suck your blood.
The replacement: Some would argue that there's a certain amount of zen that can only be achieved by "being one with nature" and camping out under the stars. Those people have obviously never played Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which takes all of the entertaining parts of camping (killing and eating snakes, hiding in the bushes from jerks that are going to beat you up) and adds in political intrigue and guns. It's all the good stuff about camping without the fear of being attacked by a bear or whatever it is that happens when people camp.
Instead of getting a summer job, play Diablo III
The activity: Standing on your feet for eight hours a day and interacting with rude customers for a few dollars an hour.
The replacement: Summer jobs are a joke. You'll make barely enough money to pay for the gas it takes you to get to the damn job, and anyone who claims that the work experience is worthwhile is lying to you. Seriously, who cares if you worked at Burger King when you were 16? The person hiring you at Wendy's when you're 30, maybe, but no one else. Take that time and make some real money on the Diablo III auction house, turning your gaming into fat stacks. See, mom? Games CAN make us money. And we'll move out when we want. And we don't like Steve, he smells of whiskey and isn't our real dad.
Instead of tanning, play Super Mario Sunshine
The activity: Laying in the sun and allowing your skin to bake into a leathery hide that will never fully heal to its youthful state.
The replacement: There's no such thing as a "healthy tan," no more than there's a "friendly cough." Tan means you betrayed your skin, plain and simple. Instead of allowing the cursed star to destroy your body, enjoy the digital sun of Super Mario Sunshine. It has sun in the name, so you can totally tell people you got sun in the summer without actually lying to them, and the water jet backpack thing can even convince you that you're cool, even when the temperatures start to peel the paint from your walls.
Instead of going to a water park, play BioShock
The activity: Standing around with barely any clothing on while waiting in long lines for boring water slides.
The replacement: We've never seen the real appeal of a water park. It has all of the flaws of a pool (too many people, too many kids, a 1:1 pee to water ratio) with the added awfulness of standing in lines and being stared at by strangers who inspect every once of your body without ever looking at your personality. Skip this and enjoy the best water park of all: Rapture. BioShock is essentially a gigantic water park, filled with bathysphere log flumes where everyone has super powers and there are vending machines that sell machine gun bullets and you can learn to shoot bees out of your hands and stare at giant squids. We're fairly sure Wild Water Kingdom doesn't have that ride.
Instead of catching fireflies, play Crackdown 2
The activity: Capturing innocent animals and either smearing their bioluminescence on stuff or keeping them captive for no reason.
The replacement: We figure there's some enjoyment in chasing around weak things and grabbing them, assuming power over small, defenseless creatures just for the hell of it even though they're actually interesting and friendly if you get to know them. But the same fun of chasing a bright light and putting it out can be found in a bunch of games that you can play without exerting your power over over something simply to destroy it. Crackdown 2, for instance, is filled with glowing lights to chase, and putting them out actually gives you points, fulfilling your carnal rage without turning you into a terrible, cruel monster.
Instead of growing a garden, play Plants vs. Zombies
The activity: Shoving seeds into the soil and laboring over them for an entire summer in hopes of eating a shriveled tomato that you grew "yourself."
The replacement: Humanity's obsession with farming helped it grow from scattered nomads to lords of the planet, but that time has passed. Now, you can fulfill that urge with Plants vs. Zombies, Popcap's tower defense/puzzler that manages to make you feel good about planting stuff while also helping you prepare for the inevitable apocalypse. Seriously, for as important as it's going to be to know how to grow cucumbers once the undead rise from the grave, it's going to be even more vital to know how to take those suckers down.
Instead of playing sports, play Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
The activity: Risking ankle-sprain in hopes of gaining a tiny clump of muscle while playing basic, archaic games.
The replacement: Running around bases? Kicking balls? Throwing eggs? What year is this, 2004? It's the future, and if we're going to force ourselves to play a needlessly basic "sport," we're going to do it in style. Team Ninja knows what we're talking about - a few years back they developed Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, a game that takes the best stuff about summer sports and lets us enjoy them without ever stumbling awkwardly into the sun and having people stare at your body and laugh.
Instead of going to the beach, play California Games
The activity: Cutting your feet on sharp shells while splashing around in salty water made up mostly of the decomposed bodies of dead animals.
The replacement: There are only a few things you can do at the beach. One is tanning, which we covered earlier, another is swimming, which we countered with Ecco the Dolphin, one is playing Frisbee, another is kicking around a Hackey Sack, and the last is surfing. ALL THREE OF THOSE LAST THINGS ARE IN CALIFORNIA GAMES! Forget about years of practice on stupid, meaningless motor skills only used to impress jerks and jocks, just stay inside and play California Games and you'll get every ounce of enjoyment someone at the beach gets without needing to have someone pee on your foot because you stepped on a jellyfish while you ask them to stop but they won't for some reason.
Instead of going to a BBQ, play any Kirby game
The activity: Devouring the flesh of dead animals while overweight people eye each other up, daring one another to make a move for the last hunk of burnt cow.
The replacement: BBQ's aren't reasons to socialize, or to stand out in the sun, or to engage in meaningful activities. A BBQ is simply an excuse to eat, and eat, and eat, consuming until there's no room inside for sadness. But just like a cigarette smoker can chew gum to satiate the oral fixation of smoking, you can play a Kirby game to forgive your carnal urge to devour living tissue. Any Kirby game will do, as long as he spends most of his time filling the darkest parts of his soul with copious amounts of food instead of facing his fears.
Instead of reading a book, play Spec Ops: The Line
The activity: Skimming an awful, usually assigned story and praying your teacher forgets to assign work based on it.
The replacement: The only reason we assume you'd read a book instead of playing a video game is if you had to, right? But what if you're assigned one because of school? Don't worry, we have an easy solution for you. Play a game like Far Cry 2 or, more recently, Spec Ops: The Line, and you'll head back to class with a basic working knowledge of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Sure, you won't know character names or plot points, but you'll be able to write a few papers on motive without actually tearing open flattened tree pulp like some sort of sucker.
Summer lovin', happens so fast
Don't worry - though it seems like the cursed, hot summer will never end, it's not as long as it seems. Before long the days will be shorter, the winds will blow colder, and you'll be able to enjoy hiding inside your room playing video games without anyone telling you to go into a pool.
So, think you have other activities that need game replacements? Let is know in the comments below and we'll try and find easy video game solutions to your problems.
And if you want more fun things to do during the summer, check out our 100 best games of all time for ideas of what to play next, and our Comic Con cosplay gallery for a look at what you missed by skipping this year's convention.