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Gaming has never been so cozy!

Video games let us be or do anything. And what some of us want, more than anything, is a chance to unwind, relax and escape to a world full of cozy adventures. Whether it’s simple farming, casual crafting, or getting lost in nostalgic stories, there’s a lot to love about cozy gaming, so it's no wonder the community is rapidly growing on YouTube. So far this year, gaming videos with "cozy" in the title have been viewed over 110 million times! 1

While cozy gaming is certainly not new, there has been quite a rise over the past few years. With technology advancing and graphics getting more complex, why are many choosing to focus on simpler games? What even is a “cozy game”? We sat down with 3 cozy creators to learn more about their experiences, channels and communities.

A diverse definition

So what does it actually mean for a game to be cozy? The genre has a wide range, but Kat of A Casual Gamer describes cozy games as those that bring up feelings of comfort, warmth and fit into a broader mindset of self-care.

“My kind of cozy games are very no-stress, non-competitive, wholesome in story and cute in design. Think the polar opposite of something like a battle royale, where you’re restricted to playing one way, you have a time limit, and you have to compete with others to be number one. Cozy games are very approachable for everyone,” she says. “They help me step away from what might be a very stressful day, and I can just simply be.”

Kat also acknowledges, however, that coziness is subjective. There’s a reason roundups in the genre include everything from narrative to adventure games!

“Cozy games might look different for different people. It is very much about how it makes you feel rather than just judging a game by how good it might be on a technical level or review score. Cozy to me might be a farming game where I just repetitively plant, water and harvest crops, or where I could spend hours just redecorating my home.. but maybe you find comfort in exploring a huge land, foraging, building a shelter to survive and slaying beasts, and that’s great too!”

I just decided that if I couldn't find anyone like me talking about the games I love, then I’d become that person.”


A trend decades in the making

Though the “cozy game” genre may seem trendy, the concept has been around much longer than the name. Eeowna shared that her love of gaming traces back to playing Wild World on the Nintendo Wii with her mom and Animal Crossing on her DS.

“Especially when I was younger, I was not a very good gamer, so I found a lot of peace in games that don't require much skill and instead embraced just having fun,” she explains. “I’ve always gravitated towards this genre and just didn’t realize it.”

Eeowna started her channel in 2020 while pursuing a PhD in Chemistry. Unable to go into the lab and with plenty of free time on her calendar, she turned to YouTube in the hopes of connecting with like minded gamers but was disappointed in what she found.

“Every single time I was interested in a game and I'd go to look it up, the feed was just full of men and some of the games I was interested in, no one was talking about at all! Even for the Switch itself, I was mostly watching men unbox and review it. Especially with handhelds, it's different for people with smaller hands. Your experience is different,” says Eeowna. “I just decided that if I couldn't find anyone like me talking about the games I love, then I’d become that person.”

In the last three years, Eeowna’s channel has grown to 103k subscribers and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon! More than seeing views and subscriber counts increase, Eeowna has truly built the community she once dreamed of.

“I have this vivid memory of when Animal Crossing got announced, I was sitting at my desk at university and I turned around and there was no one to speak to about it. I had no one to go, ‘Oh my God, did you see this?’ No one texted me, no one said anything and ever since, I wanted to make a space where people can come together and be surrounded by others who are also really hype and really excited.”

  • So far this year, videos related to Animal Crossing have amassed over...

    That's right! (Source: YouTube data, Global, 1 Jan - 21 Oct 2023.)

    Guess again...

Leaning into lifestyle

Not only is the community on YouTube growing, it’s expanding to include a more holistic view of gaming. Kennedy of Cozy K got her start creating content on other platforms, but felt that starting a YouTube channel was the best way to talk in-depth about the games she loves. Since then, her channel has leaned into vlog and lifestyle content. Yep: for many, the love of all things cozy is much more than a trend — it’s a lifestyle.

“I find that gaming content tends to focus only on the act of gaming, but gamers live lives outside of that as well,” says Kennedy. “ It's been nice to see people resonate with my content when it blends the hobby of cozy gaming with regular life. Every now and then, I receive comments that genuinely make me cry of someone expressing how much my content improved their mental health by encouraging a self-care routine and personal hobbies. I feel more connected than ever with my community in those moments because that has been the purpose of my channel since the beginning - to make people feel seen and welcomed in the gaming world and to encourage healthy outlooks on personal time and hobbies.”

These communities are a testament to fact that gaming on YouTube is changing, evolving and expanding to include more voices than ever. We can’t say for certain what’s next, but the future sure seems cozy.

“I'm hoping the cozy gaming community continues to have the impact it has proven to have in recent years,” says Kennedy. “The gaming space, from content to creators to game studios, has exploded. We've seen more cozy games released than ever before, and I can't help but think the rise of the cozy gaming community has been the biggest catalyst. I can't wait to see the continued growth of the community, so more people can find their home in gaming and more cozy games can come to be!”

1 . Source: YouTube data, Global, 1 Jan - 1 Nov 2023

2 . Source: YouTube data, Global, 1 Jan - 21 Oct 2023.