After three years of running between the raindrops, juking and jiving, Covid-19 finally caught up with me this week. I had been avoiding it for so long that I was starting to feel as though Covid was a thing that happened to other people, and I was immune. Turns out, not so much. As I type this, I'm on day four of active symptoms. I'm sitting at my desk, sweating and shivering at the same time, sucking on a cough drop, wondering if my wife is out of the kitchen so I can sneak in there and grab a cup of coffee. She just had Covid, but we've still decided we're best off avoiding each other. Nobody wants that crap twice in a row.
So I've been stuck in my bedroom for four days now. The first two days I was so sick, the only thing I could do was lay on my side and stare blankly at my tablet. I watched a bunch of movies on a tiny screen - which I hate doing - and the entire first season of Sheridan and Stallone's Tulsa King (waaaaay better than I thought it would be).
I tried to play some 3DS games, but it turned out that the 3D was making me nauseas, or was at least exacerbating a Covid symptom enough that I started associating them together. I know I could turn the 3D off, but after a day spent throwing up, I was kind of "off" of Fire Emblem - kind of like the time I ate too many butterscotches on a canoe trip as a kid, ended up hurling them into the river, and didn't touch them again for ten years or so. I love you deeply, Fire Emblem Awakening, but I'm afraid that we're going to have a somewhat Pavlovian relationship for a while.
Yup, even the trailer makes me feel a little gross. And I deeply love this game.
Yesterday, on day three, I was feeling a little more like I might be able to focus on things. The world was spinning a little less. I was still way too sick to sit on Zoom calls for work, but I figured I could use some more concentrated form of distraction. I spotted my Quest 2, which I tend to use in spurts, sitting in dust at the far end of my dresser. Hoping it wouldn't make me feel sick like the 3DS did, I strapped it to my face and sat down on the bed.
That's when I discovered something somewhat miraculous. The Quest 2 actually makes me feel better. Or rather, it distracts my brain so completely from the fact that I'm sick that I completely forget about it for hours at a time. Of course, it probably doesn't hurt that I'm kind of slow and stupid right now.
At first I thought I would just watch some movies. I dabbled around in Big Screen for a while, but didn't really feel like being around so many people (I am a bit like a cat when I'm sick; I want to go off by myself somewhere and hide until I'm better). So I settled on Netflix, which allowed me to paint a giant screen above my head so I could lay flat on my back in bed and watch Brad Pitt beat people up in Bullet Train. Could be the movie, could be the device, but I was so engaged that I completely lost track of time, and was astounded when I pulled off the headset to discover that it was dark in the room. Bullet Train took me from day to night, and I didn't even notice.
After that I started fiddling with other games and apps I have on Quest 2. Many of them are far too active for me to enjoy just yet, but Zen Studios' Star Wars Pinball fit the bill just right. I mostly played the original release on PSVR, leaving me a very fresh basement to decorate on my Quest 2 copy. I had forgotten just how delightful that game really is, and I spent several hours playing through many of the challenges to unlock statues and posters for my new virtual man-cave. I didn't think about being sick even once.
But then I started hankering for something new, and after browsing around a bit, I stumbled on Red Matter 2. The original Red Matter was one of my top five PSVR games (and it has one of the best video game soundtracks of all time), and I've always regretted not getting around to playing the sequel. This is the perfect opportunity; I'm locked away from my primary consoles, I don't feel up for starting anything new on my PC, and I have nothing but time on my hands. So immediately after I post this article, I'm jumping into Red Matter 2, off to the moons of Saturn to explore whatever mischief those alternative universe cold warriors have gotten up to this time.
It's frankly remarkable how much better the Quest 2 makes me feel, or rather, how completely it allows me to ignore the fact that I'm very ill. I know its a psychological effect of some kind, a form of brain trickery, but whatever. I'll take it. If a device can talk my brain into convincing my body that everything is cool for a couple of hours, what's the harm in that?
Having Covid-19 is no vacation, as almost everyone knows by now. But if I can squeeze a little bit of fun out of the experience, or at least dam up the river of suffering for a while, then I'm going to consider this a win. And thank goodness I spotted that Quest 2 sitting there and that I decided to stick it on my head. There are far worse ways to spend 10 days in quarantine than playing pinball and exploring space.