Focusing on games (and other media)

i rarely watch movies. even when fully invested in a plot, i find it takes a concerted effort to pay attention and not alt tab to check discord for an hour and a half. and over the past few years, i’ve noticed it feels increasingly difficult to focus on a full album of music. if it’s over an hour long, forget about it.

but video game? i can lose several hours to pretty much any given video game without trying. i poured dozens of hours into starcraft 2 last summer and came away not sure if i even actually like starcraft 2. for some reason, video games are so much easier for me to just… focus on. and i don’t think i like feeling this way! i do truly like movies and long albums when i make it through, and would like to enjoy them more, but find it so so difficult to stay attentive.

does anyone else have anything similar? certain games or other media that you struggle to focus on, or the opposite? do you work around it? do i simply carry the curse of games?


I actually have this problem with games these days more than movies. I’ve been bouncing around a few different games never really scratching the surface. On the one hand I’ve been gravitating towards narrative heavy games I’m not likely to replay, knowing that they’re contained experiences, and so are less intimidating than starting a more open ended game with a lot of replayability like a 4X or a Total War. But on the other hand it’s also much less commitment to sit down and play a single run of Into the Breach or Slay the Spire, not knowing if I’ll be in the mood to continue something a week from now


I’ve definitely felt myself progressively losing focus with most media over the last two years or so. Like I definitely need subtitles to be able to keep something on mind. But video games, I’m not sure, I do feel like I am able to focus my attention at least on some aspect, even if it’s isn’t the story.


Subtitles is 100% my solution. I can sit down and read a book, play a game, or listen to music for hours. With movies and tv my mind wanders unless I’m reading subtitles.

For me it also helps to put my phone in a different room and just dedicate an hour or two to a show/movie with a cold La Croix, or beverage of choice


Yeah, my attention span for anything that isn’t games is largely nonexistent nowadays. I think it’s because that games don’t progress without you and thus demand more attention.


my gaming attention span and my reading attention span are the two things that on their own are still at pre pandemic levels. feels like i’ve lost the capacity to binge watch much of anything and keep focused on it that isn’t international cause the subs force me to keep up

My attention span is horrific. I frequently tune out of cut scenes, struggle to watch ten movies and have to watch every TV series with a Switch or while playing a relatively unobtrusive game. I have no idea what to blame because I think I used to be able to occupy myself and get immersed in stuff really well but now I can barely focus on anything for an extensive amount of time. I think it’s social media? Who knows, it’s very annoying though as it prevents me from watching stuff I want to like Twin Peaks because I can’t focus on the important visual cues.

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Like @michiakig, I find this much more with video games than with ‘traditional media’ recently.

Lately, I’ve been catching up on various TV series I lost track of; and I find that I can easily keep focus for two or three 45 min episodes at a time, if I have the 2 hours to do that with.

Whilst I don’t get the time to as much, I can also even more easily, still, just sit down and read a whole book in one go.

Video games, though, increasingly, I can’t take in more than 15 minute chunks, and I am not sure why.


im glad im not alone in this! putting your phone elsewhere sounds like a good idea. i also had never considered subtitles helping one pay attention. i wonder if the short, but frequent bits of text in video games work kind of similarly for my focus, too. in addition to just, numbers going up, etc etc.


I agree with putting the phone elsewhere, usually I will turn mine off if I am having trouble paying attention. Recently I have also had a notebook and pencil in front of me. When I get the urge to look at my phone I try drawing something from the game or taking notes on what’s happening in the story. I’m playing Xenogears right now and have some little sketches of locations and story notes trying to figure out what the heck is going on.


I personally see my lack of attention span to be more an indictment of the media than myself. Like a lot of folks in this thread, I have a hard time not reaching for my phone when watching a movie, but it wasn’t until I watched Knives Out that it clicked for me. I don’t dislike movies, I just dislike middling to bad movies. There wasn’t a second during Rian Johnson’s masterpiece that I wasn’t completely transfixed to the screen, but when a pointless scene happens in the likes of a Rise of Skywalker, it’s kind of on the movie for making me bored.

Of course, my tolerance for mediocrity changes with the medium. Middling video games I’ll still engage with, just because I like video games as a medium more than others, just like my friends who like schlocky horror movies appreciate filmmaking more than I ever will. Life’s too short, best not to stress about these things IMO.


Same thing here, I barely watch any movie (but one that I could watch over and over) but a couple years ago I spent thousands of hours on League of Legends. I guess it has to do with attention / discipline.

Android has a Focus Mode that lets you pick what apps should be disabled while in use and I use it frequently for both work and when I want to focus on something. I’m not sure if it’s very well known but you can customize that settings drop down bar in Android so I moved Focus Mode all the way to the top along with Do Not Disturb.