Games are the best form of escapism, whether you’re a mobile gamer, a die-hard console fan or have built your own master PC from scratch. Unfortunately, the bitter truth is that sometimes we’re expected to step away from our screens and socialise with people in the real world – but wouldn’t it be much more fun if we could combine the two?
No, we’re not talking about multiplayer games or linking up a LAN, we’re talking about going out and doing your favourite virtual activities in the flesh. Activity day organisers have hundreds of experiences available that make planning a social event much easier – here are our favourite ideas, inspired by the games we’ve played the most.
Level up in IRL
Okay, so you won’t find a track that offers quite the same challenge as the Rainbow Road, but swapping banana skins and toadstools for crash helmets and the smell of oil is a great way to spend an afternoon. Grab your regular Mario Kart team and mix it up by heading to a nearby go-kart circuit – you might just manage to usurp the reigning champ with some actual driving prowess.
Obviously, we’ve all been recently obsessed by swinging between skyscrapers in the new Spider-Man game, but the photo mode is what’s really stolen the show. Exercise your real-life Peter Parker by taking a crash course in photography, and you’ll soon be able to see the photo op on every street (albeit perhaps not from the same vantage points as our man, Spidey).
Does anyone else remember Wave Race on the N64? It was a fairly standard single player/multiplayer racing format – except it did away with roads and cars, and replaced them with jetskis and the open sea. Oh, and it was awesome. If you’ve always been a fan of the water, relieve the wetsuit dream and spend a day zipping about through some waves.
If, like us, you were counting down the hours last month until Red Dead Redemption 2 was released, we don’t expect you to be letting go of your controller any time soon. When (or should that be ‘if’?) you should finally tire of playing out your white hat or black hat fantasy, you can actually get outdoors and practice some of those cowboy skills in real life. No, we can’t yet offer you Westworld, but you can learn how to tack up a horse Western Style before hopping into a saddle for a horse-riding trail in various locations across the UK. Bandits not included.
Whether you love it or hate it, some games demand potion crafting (Witcher, Divinity: Original Sin 2). Going into pharmaceuticals for a day might be a bit of an ask, but what about a mixology class? Whipping up a boozy beverage can cure most woes, after all.
Sometimes you can’t help but lust for simpler times, before engines and gunpowder and when medieval warfare was all we had. The archery simulation on Sony’s Magic Lab has given us hours of enjoyment and there a few good VR bow shooting games out there but, although it’s close to the real thing, it’s not quite the same. Archery is another skill that feels incredibly badass once you get the hang of it.
Prefer something a little more adrenaline-fuelled? If you’re a fan of Dirt 2, Motor Storm or Forza Horizon 3, get out onto an actual dirt track and throw yourself around some corners. Rally Car experiences give you the chance to try handbrake turns and gravel accelerations for real, and you can also find dirt bike lessons, monster truck driving days and dune buggy rallies.
Interacting with animals in video games is always fun, even if they don’t always get it right. Dogs are a pretty common pet/sidekick character, but there’s also horses, bird horses, electric mice and dinosaurs. Although our all-time favourite is hotly debated, one of the coolest is undoubtedly Senu, who brought the Assassin’s Creed ‘Eagle Vision’ to a whole new level. Seeing as it might be tough to find a real-life Yoshi or Pikachu, why not head to a Birds of Prey sanctuary and get to hold a real eagle or falcon on your arm?
Does anyone absolutely love flying helicopters in video games? No. The answer is always no because the controls are unfailingly designed by some cretin that doesn’t know his left from his right (GTA, anyone?) On the plus side, this means that learning to fly AN ACTUAL HELICOPTER won’t seem so hard by comparison. Whether you’re a War Thunder fan or prefer to kick it old skool with some Desert Strike, it’s not so hard to swap your sofa for a cockpit and take to the skies.
Not keen on going outdoors for a day? You don’t have to. A cooking class will score you huge life points and teach you something you can literally use every day. It’ll be like living out your Overcooked fantasy, except with no timer, more plates and much less swearing at your mates (probably). Just watch you don’t burn the soup!
Featured Image Source: Dazz