To Game or Not to Game.
Losing the passion for something you love.
I stare blankly at my computer monitor. In front of me, there lies an endless plain of Steam games for me to access. In just a click, I can be a Vault Hunter, traversing the world of Pandora. I can be a thief, slinking through the streets of Monaco in an attempt to make the heist of a lifetime. I can be a warrior, a director of civilizations — hell, even a ninja!
And yet, I don’t feel like being any of those things.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried. Really, I have. I’ll boot up a game, excited to get started. I’ll play it for a few minutes…and that’s it. I’ll quit. Maybe I’ll give it one more shot the next day, but for the most part, I never touch those games again. I can’t count how many games I have that have an hour of playtime or less attached to them.
I have been burnt out by videogames. This is something I’ve come to realize. What I’ve been ruminating on, however, is what that means to me.
When I first realized that my interest in videogames was waning, I was upset, for a variety of reasons. Gaming is my hobby. My passion. I write about them, I talk about them, and most importantly, I play them, all the time. I’ve been playing them since I was four years old — when I was barely grown enough to read and write. What sports are to some people, videogames are to me. What would I have if a controller wasn’t in my hand?
It was a difficult thing to acknowledge. But I acknowledged it. And then I set out to find why I was burnt out in the first place. What I’ve gathered is that there are a variety of reasons my love for gaming has been fading.
The Humble Dilemma. I love Humble Bundles. They’re the reason I spend $5 pretty much every week towards charity. And the people who run the Humble website have very honorable goals. All that being said, I currently have twenty Humble Bundles in my gaming library. Each of those bundles has at least five games in them, if not more. How many of those games do you think I’ve completed? If you answered “less than thirty”, you’d be correct. If you answered “less than twenty”, you’d be even more accurate.
Humble Bundles are great deals. But my fear is that the frequency with which they appear, and the number of games that come in each bundle, devalue the games that you obtain. When I was a kid who didn’t understand the joys of PC gaming, I bought around three games a year, give or take. Such limited choices caused me to put extensive research into the game I was going to purchase. I had to be sure that I would enjoy the game, and that there was enough content within it to justify a purchase. As such, I derived maximum enjoyment from every game I bought — though the downside to this was that games I ended up not enjoying I soldiered through anyways, allowing my Stockholm Syndrome full control. Now, my mindset is that “these games are just a few dollars — I’d be wasting money if I didn’t buy them now”, with the belief that I’d be able to play them some point later on. Which leads me to my next point.
Time Waits For No Man (Or Woman). I am a busy person. We all are. I have a set amount of hours in the day to do everything that I want to — or have to — do. And as I get older, the ratio between things that I want to do, and things that I have to do, is heavily weighing towards the latter.
The more games I get, the less time I have to complete all of them. One glance at my Backloggery is sure-fire proof of that (and that hasn’t been updated with all the new, uncompleted games that I’ve accrued over the past year). Knowing that I have all these uncompleted games, and that I will never have the time to complete them — baring an early retirement, of course — keeps me from wanting to play any of them. “You lack motivation!” That’s what some of my gaming friends have told me. But if playing videogames feels like work, why should I force myself into such a situation? I already have a job!
What Do You Want To Do? As someone with limited time, I am forced to prioritize where I want my life to go. As of late, that prioritization has been pointed towards my writing, and my studies. Couple this with other pursuits, and by the end of the day, I have no time left over to play any games.
What I’ve Come To Realize. As I set about going through my self reflection, and recognizing my burnout of games, I realized something: what I was going through was perfectly okay. And, perhaps, perfectly normal. My issue was that I had come to believe that videogames — my consumption of them, my following of the industry, my debates on their theory and design — were my identity. In reality, they are just a part of me. As is my writing, or any other single part of me. What I consider a passion does not have to be my entire identity. I can still find meaning in my life, and what I do, without resorting to my interests as a crutch.
Life takes you in different directions, like you’re boating on rapids that twist and turn and bustle you about. Just because I thought I would always enjoy something, doesn’t mean I always will. The trick is to know when you don’t enjoy something, so that you can throw yourself at the things you do enjoy.
All that being said, Grand Theft Auto V comes out this week. Maybe that’ll change how I feel?