Have You Ever Fallen Out of Love With Games and Had That Love Rekindled?


#1

For the past five years I have been struggling to enjoy games. Games were easily my favorite medium of entertainment and always brought me some kind of joy. I grew up on PC and PS2, and then switched exclusively to console (Xbox 360 and PS3) in high school. I played all kinds of games from old school adventure games like Grim Fandango, Star Wars Jedi Academy, Superman Returns (a classic), and crazy pornographic flash games (I was really young and stupid).

What I’m trying to get at is the fact that I enjoyed most games, regardless of genre. But in 2012 after finishing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I just started feeling very jaded about games and games culture. Despite this I continued playing them hoping the feeling would pass. For instance last year I played Sunset Overdrive because I remembered an article Justin McElroy wrote about it when he was in a similar headspace as me. While I enjoyed it, the game did nothing to rid my growing apathy towards games.

This past month I told myself I would play Mass Effect: Andromeda and Fallout 4, and depending on whether I enjoyed them or not, either move on from games or give them another chance. I chose these games because the original Mass Effect and Fallout 3 were some of the most formative gaming experiences I had.

Looking back I think the causes of my near retirement from games are clear now. On a personal level I think I was slowly, without realizing it, coming to terms with the fact that games (and art in general) don’t have to be either “great” or the “worst”. This kind of thinking was poisoning my ability to appreciate so much. Just to be clear I am not lowering my standards, and never will. I just understand now that you can learn a lot, and more importantly enjoy games that aren’t great, or even good.

Beyond my own problems, games culture is straight fucked up. My thoughts on this are not fully developed, but the whole gamergate shit really put me off games, especially as a black person. Knowing that a community you ride for and have considered yourself to be a part of, literally for as long as you can remember, does not fuck with you, made me just be like :fu:t6:fuck you too!

Now I know that I shouldn’t, and will not, let a bunch of people get in the way of me and the shit I love. Wish they would try talk their shit to me in meatspace. Andromeda and Fallout 4 were both mediocre, but I actually enjoyed them, and kinda feel like games are ok, I still fuck with ‘em.

I wanna know about you though? Have you ever fallen out of love with games, and had that love rekindled? If so how, and why?


#2

I’ve definitely drifted to and from having any kind of real passion for games. Before I sat down and played Dark Souls in 2012, I’d definitely been drifting away from enjoying games. I still played them here and there, but I definitely felt like I was on an exit trajectory. Dark Souls roped me back in, with a game where I could both project some of my experiences onto the narrative and feel (not to get all ‘gamer-y’ here) real challenge helped keep me in games, for better or for worse. I felt like games had become another thing I was using to get rid of excess time in my day, a compulsion rather than a passion. Finding something that I could really bring myself to love changed that internal narrative for me.

Since then, I’ve definitely begun to turn to games as part of a social experience, whether watching my friends stream games, playing games with people online, or, say, moderating for a cool gaming community. That has probably stopped me from having another drift out of games again this year.


#3

Whenever I start feeling the good ol’ Games Malaise I immediately go back and replay a Dark Souls game and that snaps me right back out. I’ve fallen into that hole enough times to know exactly how to get out. That series is so perfectly geared towards me, it’s like a wake-up slap. I’m replaying the first game now for just that reason, discovering the wonders of the hilariously shit Whips.


#4

Really love this topic. Super thoughtful and important for people who inhabit a culture that seems to ask quite a lot of your life. I know I have a full response in my head for this, but need a second to tease it out. Just wanted to first say that’s a great post and I look forward to reading others in this thread.


#5

These spells have plagued my enjoyment of games through my entire life, however much more significantly over the past few years in relation to my own mental illness. I often enter periods where a sense of indifference rules my every moment, which effectively makes enjoying games impossible. It makes the mere act of controlling games feel pointless and almost torturous. I end up making it worse on myself when I do feel a spark in something but lack the extra step of concentration. I’ve done this a lot this year as multiple games have come out which I’ve been genuinely interested in (and even enjoyed) but quickly lost the will to proceed in.

Luckily, FFXII: The Zodiac Age has latched onto me with a greater fervour than previous games this year. It’s nice to be back into a time where I’m not constantly thinking: “I am getting something out of this, but I know I’d enjoy it more at an alternate point in my life - so am I just wasting my experience?” I guess having playing FFXII before alleviates the pressure to enjoy my first playthrough to the fullest.


#6

Games tie into depression for me. I’ve found myself completely indifferent towards them, but that ends up being indifference towards anything I enjoy. But then I’ll be sitting there, playing them anyway.

My lowest point, I think, was my fourth year of university. I can barely remember my winter break. I was going into work from 9 to 5, getting home at 5:30, and then playing Diablo III/Nuclear Throne for hours and hours and hours, the Office or Parks and Rec on the monitor next to it, until 4 or 5 AM, completely numb, eating garbage junk food. Just thinking about that period of my life makes me feel uncomfortable, heh.

There’s also the culture and how it intertwines with my Blackness, as you mentioned. It’s a weird thing that’s hard for me to reconcile. A couple of things help.

  • Doing Something Else: If I’m feeling turned off on games I know I have to put them down. I focus more on my writing, art, hanging out with others, or even watching TV/Movies, even though that’s a more passive experience for me. I associate games with wasting time, which sometimes isn’t an incorrect assumption, depending on how long I’m spending on them and how deep into the depression I am (Diablo is REALLY long you guys!).

  • Step away from the discourse: Gaming culture sucks butt. It just does. This forum is the first place I’ve spent any extended period of time talking about games in like 6 months. Talking about games can be such an exhausting experience just by virtue of its rabid fanbases and toxic environment. Sometimes just getting away from that and focusing on playing makes games more enjoyable to me.

  • Short/Indie Games or Switching Genres: This year I played Berseria, Nier, and Persona 5 back to back. That’s like, 150 hours of combined play. I was burnt out. Sometimes picking shorter indie games, or a genre I’m not normally into, like puzzles or visual novels, helps me retain my enjoyment.

  • Just Get the Ones You Like: Sales can make purchases tempting, but I’ve spent a lot of my time being really thorough learning about the games I like and am most likely to finish (like the ones I mentioned above!). I try to make sure I adhere to my taste and don’t do something stupid like buying a game just because it’s 90% off.

I still fall in and out of love with games at times, but they’re there for me when I need them. Splatoon 2 has been a very bright spot for me while I’m job hunting. But nowadays I’m trying to focus on creation as opposed to consumption. If that makes sense.

Ah shit this ended up getting real long and rambly I’ll leave it here


#7

For years I gravitated towards primarily open world games, and it was great. I could pick up something like Far Cry 3 or New Vegas and just play for ridiculous amounts of time, but as I became busier because of college and work and volunteering, I realized more and more I couldn’t engage with the genre like I used to, and it really bummed me out.

I fell into a rut for quite some time, where I would just bounce around to watching different TV shows, movies, things like that. I stopped playing anything for a while, not really seeing the point of booting up the PC or PS4 just to play for an hour or shorter.

Over time though, I had a slow realization that I was missing out on tons of smaller, less sprawling experiences, and I started to really dig into tighter, focused indie titles, and it got me back into gaming in a huge way. Transistor, the Hotline series, Papers Please, Inside, etc. are some of my favorite experiences of my gaming life, and I likely would’ve overlooked them if it weren’t for the time constraints I’ve had.

It’s funny because I embraced lengthy open world experiences because I didn’t have the cash to buy tons of games regularly but I had all the time in the world it seemed, and now that I have some sort of regular income I’ve got barely any free time it seems like. I’m sure it’s gone that way for a lot of us. Regardless, if you really love something you’re gonna make time for it, which I do my best to.


#8

This definitely was a part of it for me too. Being a student I just never had time to spend with games. These days I try to remedy this by doing one story at a time. What I mean by that is if I’m playing a game, that’s the only media I’ll devote my free time to until I’m done with it.

So right now I’m playing Watch Dogs 2, and not reading any comics, books, or playing other games, until I finish Watch Dogs. But if I were reading a book, I would finish that then move on to something else, another story.

There’s too much content in the world, it can paralyze you if you aren’t careful.


#9

Yeah, I struggle with game fatigue a lot too!
To be honest, I’m not sure I ever got out of my game slump? I keep up with game culture, I inhabit spaces where people play and read a lot of game criticism, but I hardly play myself anymore.

Part of why is that I’m too self-conscious about using games as escapism, so picking games sometimes inspires more guilt than pleasure right away.
I also just struggle to keep up with most modern AAA games. It’s weird to say, but I’m not sure I can even enjoy open worlds and heavy 3D games at all anymore? Feels like they make me feel lightheaded, even before the fact. (Might be motion sickness?)

I think I’ve mostly made my peace with that, though. I don’t play games as much anymore, but it’s fine, especially since certain genres are easier to get into.
For me it’s mostly interactive fiction/visual novels as they demand little interaction, mobile rhythm games because sessions are quick and intuitive, and short, narrative-driven indie games from time to time as well. Retrogaming is often pretty soothing too.


#10

It was Xenoblade Chronicles that rekindled that love for me back in ~2014. I had spent the better part of undergrad just playing sports games and some fighters with roommates/friends, never really engaging with any games without a partner. XC was still a social experience - I played through it while sharing a file with my roommate at the time, which I look back on with the rosiest-tinted glasses. In a game that places incentives on discovery and reformulating battle strategies, I ended up having a blast playing through it with someone else’s perspective directly impacting the experience. After that, I bought a PS4 and Bloodborne a year later, and ever since then I’ve been playing video games with a fair degree of consistency, though I do ‘fatigue’ (e.g. beat Persona 5 a month ago and still haven’t driven headfirst into anything else since).


#11

I feel like I ought to be surprised but this was exactly the solution for me. Through years and years of depression I grew more and more apart from any real interest or happiness with games until the Souls series, and suddenly I was ravenous and that really turned things around.

The real solution was obviously bigger, but for games specifically, I grew frustrated over time as more and more failed to land in the way I hoped while expecting everything to feel just as good as it did years ago when what would make me happy was vastly different. Souls games just so happened to bring together a lot of things I didn’t realize I was looking for and suddenly I was playing games again because I wanted to and not because I felt like I should or that I’d be happy if I did.


#12

I almost completely fell out of gaming from like 2010-2012. It was a combination of overwhelming depression and lack of money. Whatever money I had went immediately to weed and booze. For a long time those were the only things I ever thought about. Horrible, horrible time in my life.

What got me out of it was Animal Crossing New Leaf. I’m a huge fan of the series so I bought a 3DS and the game the day it came out. It was the perfect game to ease me back into playing stuff. Low stakes, pleasant, and really fun. A couple months later I bought a Vita which I credit with reigniting my love of more traditional games again. I love handhelds a bunch so it’s only fitting that two handhelds got me back into games lol.


#13

Yeah I get down on games sometimes. Doesn’t help that I have Opposite Tastes most of the time - playing Dark Souls literally pushed me away from gaming, unlike all the folks here talking about it getting them back in. I think engaging in Gamer Culture is bad for me mentally because it always seems to happen like that, where there’s a game that everyone is super into and when I try it I just hate it but feel like I’m not approaching it correctly or something, so I just kinda stop playing games.
Normally what gets me out of it is watching old LPs or stream archives, stuff I’ve watched like a dozen times by now but which reminds me “oh yeah, games are fun”. That, or forcing myself to play a different game I know I’ll enjoy. For example, I would have definitely hit this when I hated playing Nier Automata while all my friends had been in love with it, if I hadn’t been getting really into Dead Cells when it happened.


#14

I think this has been said a few times but I want to reiterate how much I like that this topic is here! As pfail said, games can seem to demand so much of your life that burnout is very real.

For my part, I fell off games as soon as I started uni. At the time I was working for an enthusiast site (RIP robotgeek.co.uk), but I fell out of that and then basically games as a whole. I would play maybe one game a year from 2011 till 2014, usually something indie like Thomas Was Alone or Off. These kept me interested, I still thought about games, but something about me bounced off the idea of playing them more.

Weirdly, it was Gamergate that got me to engage with the discourse on games again. The strength of the vitriol propelled me right into the good bits of gaming that I had entirely missed. I played Depression Quest and other twine games, and fell deeply in love with Fez in a way no game had hooked me in years. End of 2015, I built a gaming PC and tried things like Rocket League, Dark Souls, AoEII and my GotY 2016 Hyper Light Drifter, and now I own a switch, too.

I also found this community: it feels to me like there are wonderful parts of game culture that mean I’ll never drop off in the same way again, between the community here and the vibe of waypoint and even things like itch.io.

One thing I will say is that I’ve noticed in my life I cycle between thinking about games to a frankly detrimental level (which if I’m honest has been the last two months), or barely engaging at all. I am struggling to set up that happy medium. As eightbitsamurai said, sometimes games are a waste of time, something I’m not enjoying but just doing because it’s a thing to do, and that’s to be avoided.


#15

Loving all the posts here, to the point where I feel like I’ll want to come back and read this thread next time I need a video games pick me up. Really good suggestions and advice.

What works well for me to not get burnt out on games is maintaining a healthy balance and moderation. Because games require so much of your time and can often keep you away from other people (at least physically), they can make me feel alienated and stagnant if I’m not careful. So I try to keep my regular sessions on the shorter side. I’ll do a bigger/longer dive into my current main squeeze maybe every other weekend, and only if I’m not keeping myself from, say, going to see a concert I’d like or getting a drink with some friends. Once the games overshadow the outside world, things can get really negative.

I’ve also found that something as simple as having a friend over to play a game together, or just going through a particular game at the same time as another good friend, makes the experiences so much more fulfilling. Community and sharing is, in my mind, an irreplaceable part of what games are about. Some of the most fun I’ve had with games lately is playing Horizon Zero Dawn with my girlfriend. We’ve figured out a rhythm of passing the controller around that keeps us both engaged moment to moment, and whoever isn’t playing can go grab snacks, or crack jokes, or remind you to heal in the heat of a battle. Those nights in and of themselves remind me just how good gaming can be.

This idea of returning to an old favorite resonates a lot with me, too. There was a little while earlier this year where I would get into some of the bigger games coming out and be excited about them, only for that feeling to taper away quickly. I’d soon realize that, good as the game may be, it didn’t have that special something that I look for in a work of art I can’t tear myself away from. As I was feeling down about that, I wound up buying a physical copy of Hyper Light Drifter mostly as a collector’s item. After it arrived, I popped it in my PS4 just to reacquaint myself with the world, and I wound up sinking a handful of hours into it that day. I’ve just about finished my second playthrough of it now. Doing that reminded me of the feeling games can give you, where they seem to speak to you, where they feel almost like they were made just for you. Hollow Knight did this for me as well. If you’re feeling down on games, it’s good to give yourself a reminder of just how powerful they can be.

Lastly, playing games is largely an act of consumption. And since I’m an inherently creative person, I need to make sure I’m putting as much out into the world as I’m taking from it. Learning to make games has taken up a large part of my “gaming time” in the past handful of months, and I just finished my first game jam ever (which of course was hosted by members of this wonderful community). My entry is by no means great, but just the act of contributing to a culture that I take so much from felt incredibly fulfilling. I think that it all ties back to the idea of maintaining balance, however that translates to you personally.


#16

I’m curious. For me, dev ends up replacing my time with games completely. I can’t remember who it was I heard (or if I’m just creating a dev amalgam in my head), but I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. In your case, how did your gaming consumption measure against your time spent developing?

I wonder if the interactive nature of games allows us to feel like “contribution” is an inherent part of gameplay and if contributing in general vis-a-vis development, it begins to occupy the same headspace, tick the same boxes, whatever.


#17

For me, the less effort required for whatever part of something I’m working on, the more I’ll play games. I’ll spend like 10 minutes every day working on, say, area maps and linking them with transport/door events etc, and spend the rest of the day playing games and shit. Because 10 minutes of making houses and towns is a LOT of houses and towns. If I’m gonna do more intensive stuff like characters or background stat stuff I’ll set aside most of the day for it, then chill a the end of the day with a game in bed. I could probably spend all day doing that less intensive stuff if I wanted too, because unlike quite a lot of that more intensive stuff I actually enjoy it. I don’t though, because otherwise I’d never get to play more involving games. I’d be stuck with games I can relax with and I’d never find time for a lot of stuff I like.

Not really a point being made there, just how dev stuff impacts how I play.


#18

i tend to go through phases where i don’t play games at all for long periods of time, mainly because i’m paralyzed by the amount of choice or i simply can’t focus long enough to really get into the games i want to get into. i had this problem particularly in 2016/early 2017 when there were so many interesting games coming out that i simply didn’t know what to devote my time to. i ended up only playing persona 5 out of all the games i was interested in and while i regret that i haven’t had the focus or in some cases money to devote to those other games, i don’t think i regret that choice. i haven’t played a big, time consuming singleplayer game since then but i’m sure that with time i’ll be in the mood again.

the big thing that helps me avoid getting into bad slumps is not feeling guilty about how i play games. for example, i took almost a year to finish dragon age inquisition because i took a lot of breaks, and feeling ashamed about those breaks made me feel more trepidation and anxiety associated with the game and made the breaks even longer despite wanting to catch up with my friends. for a while i felt like i wasn’t playing guild wars 2 right because i would take a lot of several month long breaks from it and i only play with my small group of friends and most people who love an MMO are more dedicated to it than that. i still feel bad sometimes that there are so many good games out there that i haven’t been able to give time to because i just only have so much energy to play games, and that sometimes i don’t “finish” games to the degree that i think i should.

this is still definitely a problem for me (in pretty much all areas of my life tbh) but one good side to the story is that i’ve had more enjoyment playing guild wars 2 this year than i ever have before because i’ve embraced the idea that taking frequent breaks and being a “casual player” is ok and the healthy decision for me. just…never let games start feeling like an obligation, i guess. don’t be afraid of just having casual fun with something rather than 100%ing it or putting your whole heart and soul into it every time.

it’s cool that this thread exists because i sometimes forget that other people in the games community experience burnout and other things like that :+1: lots of good advice on here


#19

This happens to me with music every couple of weeks, I’ll just go through a period of not listening to anything. When I get tired of music or games or whatever I tend to use the age old saying “yeah, but is it fun?” and it works almost every time. I don’t let myself get convinced by everyone else to like it, similar to what @dordreff says. There’s plenty of other things I could be doing than forcing myself to like a song, book, movie, or game.


#20

Yeah, I think that about half the time I would end up not playing anything after a long day spent on a project. The rare exceptions would be something fairly easy to engage with, like Binding of Isaac, or sometimes I’d play a game, like Furi, to study its systems and look for inspiration. But that was mostly in the early development weeks, when I was losing sleep because I literally couldn’t stop thinking about my project. To unwind I would watch GDC videos or listen to coding podcasts. I couldn’t get enough.

Later on, once the dev process began to feel more like a job that I needed to manage carefully, I was able to section off parts of the day for making stuff and other parts for day-to-day responsibilities and relaxation. I wound up starting a new game in Darkest Dungeon and getting super involved with that, which wound up both taking my mind off my own work and inspiring ideas for my game. (I implemented their subtle camera tilt in combat and general 2.5D approach as best I could.) So yeah, I’d say I’m really glad my dev time didn’t end up eating 100% of my game time. I hope to keep up that approach in future projects.

I could definitely see game dev and gameplay ticking the same boxes for a lot of people. I mean, there are literally games about making games, so the parallels aren’t far fetched at all. But for me, there’s a massive separation between the type of work my brain does when I’m playing something and what it does when I’m building my own idea from scratch. Both can give me a sense of accomplishment and intellectual engagement, but what comes out on the other side makes the difference.