These are the best games for reducing stress during lockdown

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Sims-4
Sims, available on Mac and iOS, is rated the best stress reliever.
Photo: EA

A good video game is a great way to escape the COVID-19 pandemic and forget, just for a little while, about the nasty impact it’s having on the world. But which video games should you play? Which titles are proven to help?

A new study reveals the best games to play for reducing stress — and those that should be avoided if your primary goal is a positive, calming experience. We’ll highlight those you can enjoy on Mac and iOS.

“Research suggests that video games can help reduce stress; in other cases, people leave a game feeling aggravated,” explains a new report from Comfy Sacks. So, choosing the right game is important.

You probably won’t be surprised to find that titles like Call of Duty and Fortnite aren’t good for you. Their difficulty, and the way in which they pit you against other players who might be more skilled, can make players angry.

These are the titles to play instead.

The best stress-relieving video games

The Sims is the top title to play for the best stress relief, according to a survey of more than 1,000 gamers, carried out by Comfy Sacks. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild takes the second spot.

Minecraft ranked third, followed by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — the massive action role-playing game from Bethesda. Madden NFL 20 from EA Games rounds out the top five.

The Sims and Minecraft are both playable on macOS, and there are mobile versions of these games that you can enjoy on iPhone and iPad. You will also find Madden NFL Mobile Football in the App Store.

Sadly, Breath of the Wild is exclusive to Nintendo Switch, while Skyrim can only be enjoyed on Mac if you load into Windows via Boot Camp.

Other titles in the stress-relieving top 10 include Tetris and Pokémon — also available on iPhone and iPad — as well as Super Mario Odyssey, another Nintendo Switch exclusive.

The best way to play

The way you play these titles can also help reduce stress.

“Based on our findings, the type of game someone plays is not the only factor that affects the gaming experience,” Comfy Sacks reports. “Comfortability makes a significant difference.”

“Gamers who reported being extremely comfortable while playing were more than twice as likely not to feel stressed when gaming.”

A good gaming chair is best, Comfy Sacks says, followed by a beanbag. Other chairs (assuming they are comfortable) also work well, as does playing games in bed. Sitting on the floor should be avoided.