What I played to survive 2020

May 20, 2021

I think we can all agree that 2020 as a whole was a bust. For me personally, 2020 was filled with waves of emotion - from crippling anxiety and depression to extreme anger, and everything in between. I wasn’t expecting to experience a global pandemic during my lifetime, and I never could have imagined a year like 2020. All in all, I feel extremely grateful that I survived and didn’t lose anyone close to me, but that doesn’t take away from the hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t survive this pandemic. Throughout the waves of emotion, one of the only things that helped me cope was video games - no surprise there.

One of the unfortunate things about suffering from anxiety and depression is that I sometimes lose interest in doing the things I love - like playing video games. Despite that, I still spent a good portion of 2020 with a controller in my hands. Here is what I played to stay sane during the pandemic.

Persona 5 (original)

I started Persona 5, my first JRPG, in 2019, and didn’t complete it until April of 2020. Completing Persona 5 took me over 120 hours and it was a huge accomplishment for me. I enjoyed it so much and I’m so glad that I had it as a distraction during the beginning of quarantine, which was one of the scariest times in our lives. Persona 5 is one of my favorite games of all time and I’m so glad I played it. If you haven’t played this game, make sure you play Persona 5 Royal, which is the ultimate version of the game. 

The Last of Us Part II

Just mention The Last of Us Part II in mixed company and you’re guaranteed to start an interesting and likely volatile conversation. Whether you love it or hate it, The Last of Us Part II was the game that everyone in the gaming community was talking about in 2020. Personally, my feelings on the game are extremely mixed, to put it lightly. The original game is my favorite game of all time, and I think Part II was an excellent game ... but it was just a little too heavy for me. Dark themes in games normally don’t bother me, but in a year like 2020, The Last of Us Part II weighed very heavily on my heart and mind. Regardless, it was still a game I thoroughly enjoyed and hope to be able to play it again in the future (once I’m mentally ready).

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons released at the ideal time; it came out on March 20, 2020 - right at the very beginning of quarantine. 

I really enjoyed watching my husband play it and found myself getting addicted to watching him play every day. For whatever reason, I didn’t start my own island until November; I’ve been hooked ever since. 

As silly as this is going to sound, my villagers brought (and continue to bring) me so much comfort when the world seemed like it was ending. 

I still play every single night before I go to bed.

Astro’s Playroom

My husband and I were lucky to score a PlayStation 5, which has become nearly impossible to purchase due to limited supply. The PS5 was a gift for his 30th birthday, and getting a new console is always an exciting time. We both thoroughly enjoyed Astro’s Playroom, which comes bundled with every PS5 console. It is a love letter to PlayStation and an excellent platformer, to boot. This game brought me so much joy and I have such positive memories associated with playing it. In fact, it’s about time for me to play through it again.

Thanks for reading! Check out my podcast, Pixels & Planners, on Anchor, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
  • Cassie Gotto-White is a gamer, a planner babe, and a boba tea fanatic. She discovered her passion for video games at age six when she was given an NES Top Loader by her aunt. Her current main consoles are the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. Some of her favorite games include The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, the Yakuza series, Persona 5, and Night in the Woods. Follow her on Instagram at @planningwithcass and YouTube at

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