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Game On: Playing games, reading books to fight the coronavirus

UPDATED: Thu., April 2, 2020

“The Witness” is part of a package of games and books that Humble is selling to raise money for refugee and health care charities. (Courtesy)
“The Witness” is part of a package of games and books that Humble is selling to raise money for refugee and health care charities. (Courtesy)

It’s a weird time we live in when “doing your part” means staying home and passing the time. For those of us who feel that’s not quite enough, there’s the “Humble Conquer COVID-19 Bundle,” a massive selection of PC video games and ebooks available for $30.

Humble Bundle is a digital storefront of sorts offering collections of games sold at a price determined by the buyer. A portion of that cost goes toward charity while the rest goes to the game developers. In the case of the “Conquer COVID-19” bundle, 100% of proceeds go to Direct Relief, International Rescue Committee, Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health.

With more than 45 games and 20 ebooks, the digital downloads are enough to keep entertained for a long time. I can’t lie and say I’ve played every game, but there are some goodies in there: “Magicka” is a hilarious fantasy adventure game where players mix elements on the fly to cast spells – half of the fun is pressing the wrong button and dropping a boulder on yourself.

“VVVVVV” is a minimalistic platforming game with savage difficulty, perfect for those of us who grew up with Mario or Sonic but crave a greater challenge today. “The Witness” is an abstract, immersive puzzle game, a homage to 1993’s “Myst” – which was created by Mead-based Cyan Inc.

“Superhot” brings new gimmicks to the stale first-person shooter genre, presenting gamers with tense skirmishes where time freezes whenever you stop moving. Role-playing game “Undertale” has several branching paths to the finish, where player agency determines the ultimate fate of many characters in the world.

If you’re craving some socializing in these isolated times, “The Jackbox Party Pack 2” is sure to please. All of the included games function much like party board games such as “Cranium” and “Pictionary.” Only one person needs to own the game while everyone else inputs their answers and drawings via their computer or mobile web browser.

It’s practically made for streaming – hop on Twitch, Mixer or another video game streaming service, and you’re sure to find a sizable number of people all across the globe broadcasting games from “The Jackbox Party Pack,” and many hosts welcome any of their viewers to join in at a moment’s notice. Just don’t be that person who publicly submits senseless expletives for the world to see.

Tossed in the mix are a handful of graphic novels, e-books and audiobooks, many of which are self-help books appropriate for the quarantine, such as “Mindfulness for Kids” and “Prisoners of Our Thoughts,” a guide to finding meaning in one’s life regardless of physical circumstance.

The sale lasts until 11 a.m. Tuesday. Many buyers have elected to contribute more than $30 – as of writing, $2.5 million has been raised across 78,000 purchases to fight COVID-19.

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