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Mount CJ Johnson, left, and her husband, Jake Johnson, play arcade games at the Press Play Bar on the Pearl Street Mall.
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Mount CJ Johnson, left, and her husband, Jake Johnson, play arcade games at the Press Play Bar on the Pearl Street Mall.

Video games have been blamed lately for causing violence, but I think the opposite is true. Reading about the latest mass shooting or sex-trafficking ring is what makes me want to start throwing punches, but I feel more peaceful after a half hour of planting turnip seeds in “Harvest Moon.”

Besides the joy of farming virtual veggies, video games are a great tool for building social skills and an outlet for creativity. Like anything else in life, you can overdo it, but it’s not a waste of time if it makes you happy. And if you max out your luck stat, you might win millions in the Fortnite World Cup or make your Minecraft girlfriend your IRL girlfriend.

If you want to hide in your dorm grinding through your thousandth “Skyrim” playthrough, I won’t judge. If you want to find other folks to play with, you have a number of choices in Boulder.

With hundreds of members, the CU Gaming student organization develops more than a dozen esports teams and hosts events. This is also the go-to group for students who want to play D&D, Magic: The Gathering and board games.

The Connection in the UMC is the spot on campus you’d usually go to join a casual video game tournament, but it’s closed this semester for renovation. Check out the new and improved space when it reopens in January.

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
A man plays a virtual reality game at the Reality Garage on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.

If you don’t have the money or space for a virtual reality rig, check out Reality Garage on Pearl Street. Make an appointment online to visit its VR Lounge and Experience Space. Or take a trip to Louisville for Tilt Pinball’s VR arcade, which has dozens of titles and fancy gear.

Closer to home, we have Press Play in downtown Boulder. This underground hangout doesn’t have VR, but it does have a full bar along with classic arcade games, pinball, Skee-Ball and foosball.

Now that you know your save points, here are a few big titles coming out this fall:

2K Games
“Borderlands 3” is an expansive sequel chock full of beasties and baddies. It comes out Sept. 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

‘Borderlands 3’

Releases Sept. 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

“Borderlands” in 2009 introduced me to the music of Cage the Elephant, and the sequel featured a character named Face McShooty whose goal was to be shot in the face, so there’s a lot to love about this series. The signature art style (don’t call it cel-shading) looks better than ever in “Borderlands 3,” and the world looks much bigger. This version comes with four new types of character classes, known as Vault Hunters: Gunner, Operative, Siren and Beastmaster. That last one is my favorite: a wandering robot that fights alongside its mutant, cyborg pets. There are so many cool critters! Plus, Claptrap is back. Heyoo.

Obsidian Entertainment
“The Outer Worlds,” which comes out Oct. 25, pits the main character against a profit-obsessed corporation.

‘The Outer Worlds’

Releases Oct. 25 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

From the creators of “Fallout,” and with what looks to be the same flavor of dark humor, we get a new single-player RPG set on “the edge of the galaxy,” where the Halcyon Colony is ruled by the Corporation. Developer Obsidian Entertainment is once again promising a story-driven game in which players’ choices will have a huge impact on the plot. If you’ve been craving new “Fallout”-style gameplay without the multiplayer (a la “Fallout 76”), here’s your chance to once again wade through a subversive storyline filled with wise-cracking NPCs. No Dogmeat as far as I can tell, though. Sorry.

Frontier Developments
“Planet Zoo” ups the simulation game with authentic animal animation, right down to the hippo poop.

‘Planet Zoo’

Releases Nov. 5 for PC

I was a big fan of “Zoo Tycoon” back in the day, and this simulation game inherits its mantle. Much of the gameplay looks familiar: Players design habitats and fill them with various species; build paths, decorations and facilities; hire staff; and manage their finances. The most exciting changes are the stunning graphics, the weather effects and the new poop mechanics. That’s right, you can watch your hippos blast nuggets all over the ground and later kick a dungball when they walk through the pile. “Planet Zoo” gives individual animals incredibly detailed models with unique traits generated from their parents and animations closely based on real behaviors, making the game as aesthetically pleasing as it is educational.

Kojima Productions
Hey, look, it’s Daryl. “The Walking Dead’s” Norman Reedus lends his acting talents to “Death Stranding,” which comes out Nov. 8 for PlayStation 4.

‘Death Stranding’

Releases Nov. 8 for PlayStation 4

Possibly the most anticipated game of the year, “Death Stranding” is the latest project from Hideo Kojima, the man behind “Metal Gear Solid.” Get hyped for actors Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”) providing voices and faces in an intricately rendered open world ripe for exploration and interpretation.     I’d love to give you a concise summary of what the story is about, but your guess is as good as mine. All I can tell you is there’s lots of snazzy-looking sci-fi gear, black goo and creepiness.

Game Freak
“Pokémon Sword” and Pokémon Shield” are set in the Galar region, which is based on the U.K. The game introduces new regional variants, like this Galarian Zigzagoon.

‘Pokémon Sword’ and ‘Pokémon Shield’

Release Nov. 15 for Nintendo Switch

These are the latest main series games to come out of the world’s most profitable media franchise, and they’re designed for the Nintendo Switch. It’s the first time the main games weren’t developed for a handheld console, and you’d think that all that extra computing power would mean this will be the most elaborate installment yet. But hardcore fans (Disclaimer: It me) pulled out the pitchforks when developer Game Freak announced only a limited number of Pokémon will be available, undercutting the series motto “Gotta catch ’em all.” If you’re new to Pokémon, you probably don’t care about the drama, but you might be better off checking out last year’s “Pokémon Let’s Go: Pikachu!” instead, which is geared toward more casual players and is simple but charming.

Find a raiding party

CU Gaming: Visit Follow CU Gaming at

Reality Garage: 1230 Pearl St., Suite 101, Boulder; 720-598-2888;

Tilt Pinball: 640 Main St., Louisville; 303-997-9548;

Press Play: 1005 Pearl St., Boulder; 720-508-4916;


Titles coming out this fall

Aug. 30: “Blair Witch”

Sept. 5: “River City Girls”

Sept. 6: “NBA 2K20”

Sept. 10: “Gears 5” and “Greedfall”

Sept. 13: “Borderlands 3” and “NHL 20”

Sept. 17: “AI: The Somnium Files”

Sept. 24: “The Surge 2”

Sept. 27: “FIFA 20” and “Code Vein”

Oct. 4: “Ghost Recon Breakpoint”

Oct. 8: “Indivisible” and “Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince”

Oct. 11: “Grid”

Oct. 22: “WWE 2K20”

Oct. 25: “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” and “The Outer Worlds”

Oct. 31: “Luigi’s Mansion 3” and “Moons of Madness”

Nov. 5: “Just Dance 2020” and “Planet Zoo”

Nov. 8: “Death Stranding”

Nov. 15: “Pokémon Sword,” “Pokémon Shield,” “JUMANJI: The Video Game” and “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order”

Nov. 22: “Doom Eternal”

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