Suddenly finding yourself trapped inside your home 24/7 apart from some daily exercise or the occasional grocery jaunt is a stark reminder that you can get bored of anything. We only moved into our lovely, rented home less than six months ago and until last week I was very happy to see it - and everything within it - day in and day out. But now, I'm starting to really take solace from the things that mean I don't have to look at the same old vases and picture frames.
Weirdly enough, that comfort is actually being found in other people's homes. Not visiting real people, of course. That's madness, and currently a fineable offense. But rather fake, digital homes that let me renovate to my heart's content. While other people trapped in self-isolation madness are turning to real-life DIY, I'm turning to video game DIY; crafting and creating in ways that I can rinse and repeat to my heart's (and wallet's) content.
When I say digital renovating, I specifically mean doing so in House Flipper. The 2018 PC simulator, which also came to PS4 and Xbox One earlier this year, lets you become a one-man (or woman) renovation crew. Starting you out with just a mop and a dream, you eventually work your way up the renovation skill tree to options like tiling, and wall demolition. There's nothing quite like the feeling of taking down a digital wall and watching it crumble brick by brick when you're feeling frustrated about the state of current affairs.
Do It Digitally
Like when playing other simulation games, there's comfort in the repetition. The laborious, yet rewarding, motion of painting an entire room strip by strip. The focused intensity of kitting out a room with matching items of furniture. The simple yearning to believe that I'd actually be able to fit a sink after doing it repeatedly in House Flipper. Wondering how different the wiring inside an American plug socket is to our own UK edition.
I feel like I'm learning real skills here, as much as I am fulfilling dreams of home improvements. That's because this obsession with digital DIY is aspirational too. Suddenly I'm mastering a level of home improvement prowess that I might possibly never achieve in real life - and especially not in a rented home in the middle of a pandemic. I'm having to make do with cultivating a mediocre garden patch, attempting to grow herbs and basic vegetables in real life. In my digital worlds, I'm flipping entire houses for profit in a matter of hours.
Elsewhere, on my little deserted island cum blossoming metropolis in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I've already achieved a five-star island rating. I've become hellbent on collecting all the best items of furniture for my little paradise, and now hound Sahara on each of her visits for the best animated wallpapers.
Somehow in a time where I'm stuck in my own home, I regularly find that I'm dual-wielding DIY games. New Horizons ticking over on my Switch on the desk as I wait for the next passing balloon present, while I virtually plaster walls damaged by a flood in my latest house flip project. Meanwhile, in the real world, the bins probably needed emptying yesterday.
I've even gone as far as to complete a brand new power washing game demo three times in my quest for the latest digital DIY. If you've ever watched any of those oddly satisfying pressure washing videos, you'll know exactly what the appeal is.
And I doubt my quest to find more digital DIY offerings is going to end anytime soon either. The therapeutic focus that they offer in a world where our homes are the thing we see the most has become a coping mechanism. Although, for now at least, I think I'll leave the Apocalypse Flipper DLC to the professionals. Hits a bit close to home.
We've started a new series that pits the team against each other with some fiendish gaming tests. Check out Challenge Radar Episode 4 here.