Four reasons I have used to rationalize my gaming burnout
I can invent a million different reasons why I like to play video games, and more than half of them would probably not entirely be bullshit. Identifying them just comes naturally -- in fact, this entire site is basically held together by posts about why gamers like us like to do that thing we do, which is in fact play games. Every week, we sit down and think of how we can say "we like playing games!" in a new and exciting way. Trade secret. True story. Except sometimes it isn't exactly true; no one's going to live for long on an all-bacon diet without pining for a nice green salad every now and then, and similarly, no one's going to maintain the same enthusiasm towards any hobby for, say, twenty straight years without running over a few bumps along the way. No one as far as I know, at the very least. Feel free to correct me (and further depress me) if you happen to know any different.
My gaming career has run into several snags over the years. Now, giving up gaming certainly doesn't carry a similar weight to, say, giving up eating, or being a productive member of society. Some may even say that giving up gaming is indeed the first step one takes towards becoming a productive member of society. I am not those people, and most certainly, neither are you. I love gaming, and still I've taken a step back from it a few times because of something or other. What I've never done until now is think about the whole act of stepping back. Why? How? And what's the big idea?
So I sat down and I thought about it. I came up with four reasons -- four big reasons to stand up to the million or so positive reasons for gaming that I could conjure up in a moment's notice.
Not a bad start.
1. (Looks at Steam library) I have nothing to play!
For all the good that gaming has brought into the world, gamers themselves have some curious character traits. We are, for example, an extremely fickle bunch. Today's smash hit is tomorrow's derided hack job, and further down the road, next week's forgotten hipster bait. Several times, I've fallen into the trap of getting so worked up about an upcoming title that nothing I own is going to compare and therefore nothing I own is still worth playing until the new hotness comes out.
It astonishes me how often this happens to me in spite of all the leaps and advancements that game design and technology have taken. It's just that the desire to acquire and submerge myself in shiny new things vastly outweighs my knack for appreciating what's already been done in existing games so far.
Or maybe it's just some really killer marketing.
2. I am so distracted by real life.
Suffer through a breakup recently? Is your job taking over your life? Are you getting enough sleep? Just how unbearable has your family become?
Stress is a fact of life, and while we (okay, I) like to point at gaming as a way of getting rid of that stress, the sad truth is that there's only enough stress I could take before I break my ability to enjoy any sort of gaming entirely.
It's hard to enjoy any sort of distraction from real life when life itself is threatening to get too real. Times like those, my natural inclination would be to step away from the computer, curl up into a fetal position in bed, and escape into a dark and disturbed sleep.
AND refreshing. Sleep is quite helpful and refreshing for the human body.
3. This game is hard and everyone who is good at it deserves to die.
This one's easy. These are the times when I confuse being burned out from plain good old ragequitting.
I'm not the best player in the world, see. I love the idea of games and I love reading about games and I love to think about the potential enjoyment I could get out of games, but many, many times in online competitive titles, I find those dreams dashed to piece in the wake of younger, more alert, and much more skilled players.
I can never fully describe how much I wanted to be a fighter pilot in Battlefield 3 -- to swoop in and provide close air support and to sign off with a cool-as-ice reply after the ground troops sing their praises even as I fly on towards the next group of Needy Little People.
Flying a jet in BF3 is hard as fuck and all the help I ever managed to give was a bunch of free kills for the engineers on the other team. I stayed away from competitive games for a while after that realization fully sunk in.
4. I have found something better to do with my free time.
This is the one where I fully delude myself into thinking that I have actually found something better than gaming. I've gotten myself into all sorts of other geeky hobbies this way, from scale modelling to comic books to toy collecting to board games to a very brief stint with sculpting.
I'm not going to explain how video gaming is objectively better than any of those, because it isn't. Is it better for me? Probably. I'm still here, finding yet another way to write "I like playing games!" without being too stale about it. It is, however, a comforting and terrifying thought that all those other things are waiting in the sidelines, ready to scoop me up the next time I decide that gaming is dumb and useless.
In case you didn't notice, by the way, we talked about this whole thing for our latest podcast episode! I can't promise that we go more in-depth in the podcast than I did here, but we do make a very interesting discovery that's worth the ride.
If you have any burnout stories of your own, please share them here as well. Be as detailed as you like! Telling stories is, after all, an integral part of the gaming experience.
There I go, bullshitting again. I like playing games!