PC Gamer readers and editors share their stories from self-isolation

(Image credit: Valve)

Last night I ate two Hershey's chocolate bars. This is not an endorsement of Hershey's chocolate—it's bad. The texture is a little too much like wax paper. But I have a big stash of them from an aborted s'mores attempt last year, and sometimes when I have a couple drinks I ignore my better instincts and wolf down a chocolate bar before I can remember how deeply unsatisfying it's going to be. After nearly a month of barely leaving the house, this is happening a lot.

I only have mudane stories from self-isolation so far. On a rare, sunny day this week I went for a jog and was like oh yeah, being outside is great! I've been limiting my outdoor time these last few weeks because some longer trips outside have set off my allergies, and it's not fun sneezing and wondering if the rest of the coronavirus symptoms are right around the corner. Recently I've been coping by re-arranging my room, cleaning, and obsessively shopping for new nightstands (I'm really enamored with this one, even though it's definitely overpriced particle board crap). 

But enough about me—here's what PC Gamer readers and editors have had to say about their time in self-isolation so far. Come talk to us about sheltering in place (and also PC games) on our forums.

Biggly, PC Gamer forums: 

Anyone here use VR to escape from the monotony of self-isolation?

I walked into town yesterday for my daily exercise ration (we get to go out for a walk once a day in the UK) and there were socially-distanced queues of people waiting to get food outside the supermarket and prescriptions from the pharmacies, with security enforcing a 1-in-1-out policy like a nightclub.

So flippin' weird, talk about Orwellian: I had to hook myself back into City 17 just to feel normal again.

Steven Messner, senior reporter:

Self isolation has been a trying time for me, mostly because the boredom is turning my family into a bunch of freaks—especially my dad. With no way to pass the time and only phone calls and WhatsApp to unite us, my dad has taken to pulling really cruel pranks that I, in my infinite stupidity, keep falling for.

The first one was when he told me he was fined $1,000 by the police for breaking quarantine (he and my mom were forced to quarantine since they were in Mexico when the outbreak came to Canada). I immediately had to share that news with as many people as possible because it was crazy. You can imagine how unfun it was to then have to go to all those people and individually explain that no, my dad wasn't fined a grand for taking a walk outside, he's just a liar. He got me a second time when he posted an article in our WhatsApp chat with the headline that said our government would be shutting down all liquor and marijuana dispensaries. Again, I fell for it hook, line, and sinker and immediately began telling my friends in other group chats. Turns out that link was a Rick Roll video (in 2020, no less. There is no god.) Again I had to go around telling people that I was misinformed.

His most recent prank almost gave me an ulcer, though. Him and my mom have been in quarantine with my sister since they were all in Mexico together and they can't return home because their house is actively being renovated and the contractor can't have them risking his employee's health. My dad messaged me saying that my sister couldn't have them over any longer and they needed to come stay with me for a few weeks... in my tiny two-bedroom apartment that is almost too small for two people, let alone four. Of course I didn't want to turn him down, but I could feel my blood level rising just at the thought of being cooped inside a tiny home for several weeks with my parents. Again, it was a dumb joke.

You'd think I'd learn.

Zloth on the PC Gamer forums: 

Church is going to be livestreamed for the first time ever which should be interesting. I can't be late! If the sermon has something I'm not so sure about, I can hit pause and look it up. Come to think of it, I can push the volume up a bit and get some dusting done at the same time.

P.S. Can PC Gamer do an article on how to tie your hair back using USB cables? I might be needing that knowledge when the next issues shows up. 

(Image credit: Valve)

Mazer on the PC Gamer forums: 

Last week I was isolated by working completely alone in a warehouse full of catering crap but since they just made me redundant I guess I'll be stuck at home with my partner and my little girl. They're good company at least, mostly been cooking to stave off boredom, or trying to keep the voices straight when I read The Very Hungry Bear.

Been loving the slow cooker lately, making big goulashes that are heavy on veggies or slow cooking fillings for shepherds pie. Invested in a new wok recently too so I'm also perfecting my fried rice and making every type of korma under the sun.

Chris Livingston, staff writer: 

The biggest change has been that my wife is working from home now too (I have worked from home since 2014 or so). It's mostly been a smooth transition, though I can't yell at our cat to shut the fuck up when he's screeching about something (or more commonly, screeching about nothing) because she might be on a call, and our dog, who used to spend all day in the chair next to my desk now spends all day in the chair next to her desk. I guess we know who he loves the most now.

I also now have to wear pants all day instead of just part of the day—she does a lot of webcam meetings and I don't want to walk through the background in my skivvies.

Inspireless Llama on the PC Gamer forums:

As for work, even though it's not officially an essential job, I think it could be considered one, since it's working in a zoo, and you can't leave them without food and in their own dirt for weeks (I guess that would be the start of a new pandemic), so that just goes on as well. The zoo is closed for visitors right now, but that's nothing new either because this specific zoo is closed in winters anyway, so basically the winter got extended.

Krud, PC Gamer forums: 

The hardest part has been finding toilet paper, weirdly. Someone needs to invent an app where people can report which stores do or don't have toilet paper. I'd pay two bucks for that, it'd save me on gas and wasting my time entering the third store and not even finding one-ply. I mean, WHO'S BUYING THE ONE-PLY? (Though I would if it were there.)

Jody Macgregor, weekend editor: 

Here in Australia people are calling isolation "iso" and coronavirus "the rona" because there's nothing we won't abbreviate. While we're in iso, my roleplaying group have started playing over Discord, which we're still getting used to. Not being in the same room is weird for us.

The shops around here have toilet paper again, but they're still low on pasta and rice.

AGMoore, Disqus comments: 

The thing that keeps me sane in these times is writing 500 words a day, even if it’s just me complaining. I used to love writing but I felt creatively bankrupt even before Covid hit the states. I also finished a book for the first time in over a year (Ham on Rye by Bukowski) last week and started reading Dune.

I worked from home 2.5 years before Corona hit the states and it still feels like my world is upside down. That’s the part I struggle with. Both my parents and grandmother live close and it’s odd not being able to see them for their safety and my own.

Stevie Ward, community manager: 

I've set up an online Google Hangout called "the watercooler" my network can join during the day for casual chat. No hardcore discussion, just regular stuff you'd get from the office chatterbox. It keeps people connected, we let people have their dogs, kids, mum pop in too so they don't feel like their families are crashing the chat. Today we drew parts of a video game character in isolated corners of a shared drawing app and then put them together (the results were horrifying) but we're doing allsorts. With my women in games group I've started weekly League of Legends sessions as we normally meet IRL, and it worked pretty well.

James Davenport, features producer: 

I've been trying to avoid videogames during isolation. I'm worried about growing to resent my favorite hobbies by depending on their ability to melt time while hunkered down, so I'm mixing things up. My morning routine involves at least an hour of reading (ripped through Perdido St. Station and The Scar and you should too), a walk around my rural neighborhood, and a quick chat with family or friends, if time allows. Yesterday I watched pigeons fight on the roof across the street for 45 minutes.

Sitting at my computer to play games after finishing a day of work at the same computer accelerates the cabin fever. I'm prone to despair, and living alone, so I'm taking my mental and physical health very seriously right now. If I'm at my computer outside of work, it's to chat with some friends in Houseparty, sometimes to watch a movie together. Just last night I had a remote dance party with some friends, trading songs over Watch2Gether. The irony stings, but I'm being more social now than I was before this whole thing. Let's hope I can carry a bit of that energy with me even after we all head back into the world.

Some rabbits from a recent walk (other animal sightings include a wild pack of chickens, coyote, rockchuck, a couple very shy cats, one very social cat, innumerable dogs): 

All rabbits are advised to stay at least six carrots apart. 
Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).