July 24, 2019–2:00 pm CST
It’s hard slowly coming to the realization that you may have just wasted $40 to $60.
Video games can be both a very relaxing and demanding hobby at the same time, depending on a myriad of factors. Whether it be your financial situation, what game you’re playing, or how much free time you have during the week. On top of that, being a game enthusiast is not cheap in any sense of the word. Brand new consoles can cost anywhere from $300 and $450, most triple-A games cost anywhere between $40 and $60, and accessories like controllers are an extra $60 on top of that.
So, suffice it to say when you buy a game for $60, play it for maybe seven hours, and then start to realize that you aren’t having as much fun as you thought you would…that can be a hard pill to swallow. You hate to think about shelving the game indefinitely after paying for it, but at the same time you aren’t sure you want to keep going out of fear that your time could be better spent elsewhere. So, how do you know when it’s okay to give up on a game?
I’ve experienced this feeling with numerous different video games over the course of my life, and while each experience has a bit of variance in it, there are some things that remain constant. Here’s a brief list of the lessons I’ve learned when debating on whether to give up on a video game:
1) Play how you want to play.
This is a common thing that I think a lot of people who play video games forget. Just because a game demands something specific of you, it doesn’t mean that that’s the only way to play. If a game’s structure is making it difficult to enjoy, try to mess around and experiment with how you’re playing and what you can do within the game to suit your play-style. This also goes for time commitments. Just because a game is more long-form, like a really big JRPG for instance, it doesn’t mean you have to play through it in eight hour sessions. It’s totally fine to pick up a game and play for however long you can. Play the game, don’t let it play you.
2) If a game is stressing you out, lower the difficulty.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with bumping things down to easy. Nothing. What’s more important to you: being able to say that you beat a game on normal or hard difficulty, or losing hours and hours of your time to a stage or boss fight that keeps relentlessly kicking your ass? For some, the latter is actually worth it. I’ll admit, there’s nothing quite like that brief sense of accomplishment you get from beating a boss that has been ruining your life for hours. At the same time, when that stage or boss fight begins to feel like a chore, instead of a fun way to improve on and learn the mechanics of a game, then it’s time to reassess. Again, you should never feel bad for bumping things down to easy. That’s why they programmed it there in the first place.
3) Some distance can be just what you need.
Giving some distance between you and a game you’re not really enjoying can shift your entire perspective on said game. Sometimes all you need is a few days, weeks, or even longer to come back to a game you were struggling to enjoy in order to make it feel fresh and fun again. For example, I recently just played through Yakuza 0 for the PS4, which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, while the story was incredibly engaging, the game offers so many side activities and sub-stories that it can get to feel a bit overwhelming. At about the halfway point of this 40–60 hour game, I started to feel a bit burned out. I ended up dropping it for a little over a month, played other games, lived life, and came back to it after feeling the itch to dive back in. From that point on, I pretty much played it through until credits, and had an absolute blast the entire way through.
4) That game will always be there to come back to.
Given the fact that you don’t sell it or trade it in, anyway. Personally, I hardly ever trade in the games that I buy, but I completely understand those who do. And it’s a totally viable and reasonable option for those who don’t enjoy a game they just bought. However, for me personally, I like to keep those games because I never know if someday I’ll revisit it and actually have fun again. It’s comforting to have that safety net in case the urge to revisit a game ever comes back, and since you already took the plunge to buy the game there must have been something there that captured your interest. Like I mentioned in number three, some distance can be all you need to find the fun again.
5) Don’t get swept up in the hype.
This is somewhat of a preemptive point, but it applies to this list nonetheless. *Ahem.* JUST BECAUSE A VIDEO GAME IS POPULAR, THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO BUY IT, PLAY THROUGH IT ALL THE WAY, AND ENJOY IT. …Just wanted to make that clear. I feel like especially today, there is this atmosphere of overwhelming anticipation and excitement surrounding the release of popular media that can feel almost suffocating and exhausting at times. You see it with things like new Avengers or Marvel movies, season premiers of popular television shows, and you see it extremely often with major video game releases. Sometimes it can be all too easy to feed into the hype surrounding the release of a big game simply because everyone else is excited. But you do not have to buy a game just because other people are excited. In fact, that’s one of the worst reasons to buy a game. To give an example, FromSoftware’s newest game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, recently released earlier this year. Both die-hard FromSoftware fans and those who aren’t seemed to be building up a mountain of anticipation for this game. I, however, had fallen into this trap a few years prior with Dark Souls III. I just didn’t enjoy it. Whether it was the gameplay, the systems, or the atmosphere it just didn’t grab me, and I felt a bit burned. So I skipped Sekiro, and felt no hangups about it whatsoever. And that’s totally fine.
6) If you’re not having fun — stop playing.
Last but certainly not least: Video games are, first and foremost, supposed to be fun! They’re a medium that lets us get away from the stress of our everyday lives. Whether it be for just a few hours or an entire weekend. At the end of the day, if you’re not having fun with a game I’d suggest putting it on hold for a little while. If in a few days or even a week, the thought crosses your mind to actually pick it back up and give it another shot — go for it! But if the first thing that happens when you think of a game is a feeling of dread washing over you then it’s safe to say that you should move on to something else. One of the most influential leaders in the video game industry, the late Satoru Iwata, and former President of Nintendo once said,
“Video games are meant to be just one thing: fun. Fun for everyone.”
And I like to think that he knew a thing or two about video games.
Those are just a handful of lessons, tips-and-tricks, or whatever you want to call them that I’ve learned throughout my time spent playing video games. They are an expensive, often time-consuming, and somewhat intimidating hobby to get involved in. Yet, they can give you some of the most fun you’ve ever had in your life.
Video games are a medium unlike any other. They tell us stories, create worlds for us to live in, and introduce us to people and characters that can impact our lives in so many powerful ways. They can be there for us when we’re feeling bored, stressed, or feeling like the world is going to cave down around us and crush us in an instant. And they can also pick us back up. They can give us a reason to get up, dust ourselves off, and keep moving forward. They can be fun little distractions to waste time with, or they can be so, so much more.
But at the end of the day they’re meant to be just one thing. Fun.