How to Get Over Gamer Burnout
As it stands, I haven’t touched a game in two or three weeks. During the week with all my projects including writing here on HubPages, I don’t get much time for gaming any more. But it isn’t just that. I don’t really have the zeal for gaming that I did when I was younger. Now I could bang on like usual about how it’s modern games, and the DRM restrictions and the fact that I seriously need to upgrade my PC – those are all factors that come into play – but this article isn’t about that stuff. It’s about how to deal with gamer burnout.
Possible signs that you are suffering from gamer burnout
- You buy many games and end up not playing any of them, essentially wasting money.
- You waste many gigabytes of data downloading games and mods, and they just take up space on your harddrive, not serving any other purpose.
- You become dissatisfied while playing games.
- Not knowing what to play, feeling like there are too many choices, or nothing is good enough.
- You play games and don’t finish them, creating a massive backlog.
- You would rather do anything else other than gaming.
Take a break from the news
After GTA V came out, every gaming blog and forum was talking about it. I hardly read any of those articles or forum threads, because they were more often than not filled with spoilers. I decided I wouldn’t read any of it, because I didn’t want my first playthrough of the game when it comes out on PC (hopefully) ruined.
It’s like having people go on about the film they saw recently, and then when you go to see the film, you already know what’s coming, and it takes away from the overall enjoyment of said film. I always follow a game’s release status, and I might indulge in checking out a review to see if it’s worth playing, or more importantly, worth spending my hard-earned money on. Anything more in-depth than that I tend to avoid until I’ve played and finished it.
That and you tend to actually pick up the jaded outlook on games that most video game bloggers and especially reviewers have, and that can ruin your love of gaming too.
Read a related book or watch a related movie
To get myself psyched up for yet another playthrough of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which I have been craving for the last few years, I made myself wait. Anticipation after is all is everything.
Another thing that I did was watch the original Stalker film, by Andrei Tarkovsky, released in 1979, which the game was based on. I could have taken it a step further and read the book the film was based on, called Roadside Picnic, but I didn’t. Because by this point I had drummed up enough excitement to go on yet another journey in to the Zone. It doesn’t even have to be a movie or a book based directly on the game or vice versa. It could be in the same sort of genre, or based on the same topic.
Play a casual game
After reading through a few articles on the subject of gamer burnout, the message became loud and clear: if you’re not having fun in a game, then you’re less likely to want to continue playing it. This is where casual games come in. They aren’t really objective-based most of the time, and shouldn’t be, ideally. You might have an exit at the end of the level that you need to reach and that’s about it. Even the card games that come with Windows count as casual games, and I’ll admit: I play them from time to time.
Games should be fun, and as good as Skyrim and similar RPGs may be, they tend to overwhelm people with the sheer amount of work that goes into them. It’s a lot of work to create a character from scratch and then nurture them to be the best they can possibly be. And this brings me on to my next point.
Try a different genre
So RPGs might be too much like real work, and that is what you’re trying to escape from. I think that is the reason why I myself have always opted for first person shooters.
Some might consider them mindless fun and not intellectual enough for their taste – but therein lies the point I was trying to make above. Games should be fun. First person shooters are like action movies. They’re short and sweet with a lot of violence, and then they’re over. And a lot of people think of Call of Duty when they think of FPS titles, but if you were to look hard enough, you can find some very good shooters out there. I enjoyed F.E.A.R. and Undying – games that have exceptional plots and interesting characters in them, that have kept me coming back time and time again to play in their worlds. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and System Shock 2 were primarily shooters, but hybrids of a sort with RPG elements to them, with less control over a character’s development than a full-blown RPG, but still enough freedom to keep things interesting.
It may be true that once you have gotten through the main story, there’s no point in playing it once more, but playing through it again can always yield something new to discover. If you are dead set on staying with RPGs, then try to alter your approach to them. Don’t take every single quest out there in an attempt to complete the entire game. Maybe just stop a while to smell the roses. Do a bit of sandbox-style play and just immerse yourself in the game world instead of jumping right in at the deep end for a change. Maybe too much freedom is the problem, so try to set yourself limits.
Play an old game, or an indie game
People claim that gaming was better years ago, and in some ways they are right.
Gaming in decades past was different to what it is today, because there was a lot more innovation, and teams consisted of gamers who were for the most part having fun making games which only appealed to a relatively small audience. Nowadays, gaming is serious business, rivalling the film industry.
New intellectual properties are shunned because they’re too risky an investment, and existing franchises are often milked for all they’re worth with uninspired sequel after sequel, often leaving you with a game that looks beautiful graphically, but has nothing much else that compelling to keep you playing.
By now we’ve seen it all before. Nothing impresses us much. So I find myself going back to older games that were so much more captivating. The alternative is to dabble in the indie scene, where developers are more prone to taking risks because with platforms like Kickstarter, because the development of the game is funded in advance, rather than having to secure a publisher, borrow lots of money, and then risk the game failing and not drawing in enough money to pay off their debts and to make a profit in order to stay in business.
Play several games and not just one
In the past I would have at least two or three games on my HDD and I would alternate between them depending on my mood. If I felt in the mood for something fast and fierce I would load up Quake III Arena. If I wanted something more relaxing and constructive instead of destructive I would play The Sims. Many people go through several games at a time (as many as 10!), but that strategy runs the massive risk of not only clogging up your HDD, but having a massive backlog of unfinished games.
Since then, nowadays I tend to focus on one game, and I write reviews on said game, and that can be detrimental because you can get sick of it rather quickly and it becomes more of a chore than anything else. So I try to at least switch to another game temporarily so that I don’t get bored. Of course, there is the risk that going between several games can result in you becoming attached to one game and totally ignoring the other, but if you find a game that you really like in the process that can’t be a bad thing. This is starting to sound like an episode of the Jerry Springer Show now, so I think I’ll stop.
Play a mod
While we’re on the subject of indie, you could try a mod for your favourite game. If you don’t like the way the base game behaves, then modify it with a mod made by fans. They can alter the gameplay ever so slightly, or eve in a major way. Sometimes you’ll come across a total conversion which makes the game nearly unrecognisable, and it plays much like a completely different game. The best thing about mods is that most of them are completely free so you won’t waste any money on them.
Pick the game that’s right for you
You shouldn’t have to feel pressured to play a game just because everyone else is. Everyone else raves about Dota 2 – I haven’t even touched it. That doesn’t mean I have anything against it. I can’t judge it because I haven’t played it. If I played it I might find I even like it.
If you try out a game and find you don’t like it, then don’t play it. Move on to another one. Some “experts” on gamer burnout – the experts being the people who experience it most – argue that you should ideally play games that are the opposite of the norm for you. If you spend a lot of time studying or working, having goals and assignments that need to be done, then RPGs might very well not be for you. So maybe try a first person shooter instead, because it’s more “mindless” and doesn’t require a lot of reading and work.
Evaluate games before you buy them
So that game everyone is raving about is on sale. You rush over to the game's page on Steam to have a look. But you need to ask yourself some serious questions. Do you really want this game, or are you just buying it because it's on sale, and possibly never will be every again? Do some reading up on the game and follow some other tips in this hub first before buying. Otherwise, you will just make your backlog that much bigger, and that is going to have an effect on not only your waller, but also the gamer burnout that you may be experiencing.
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Don’t be afraid to cheat if you get stuck
There are acceptable times to cheat. First off, you never cheat in a multiplayer game. Never. And while it is up to you to cheat or not cheat in a singeplayer game, it is acceptable if you just can’t get past a place in a game, and you’ve tried everything else out there. I’ve done this. Sometimes it’s due to a bug in the game, which is beyond my control, that prevents me from getting any further.
After so many tries and failing to progress in a game, it can become so frustrating that the game isn’t fun. Games can and should be challenging, but they have to strike a balance between being too easy and being bloody unforgiving. Games that are too hard usually end up being shunned by me, to be honest. But just be careful not to overdo it, because once you cheat it becomes easy and then you can do it whenever you feel like it. That doesn’t mean you should. Playing through an entire game with god mode on presents no challenge, and can rob you of that feeling of satisfaction when you get to the end. Sometimes after finishing a game, it can be fun to play it through again with cheats and become super powerful.
Don’t try to be the best straight away
One bit of advice that I picked up from others is that these strategy guides and FAQs – you shouldn’t go through them unless you really need to. A lot of the time it can be more fun in an RPG to go your own way, rather than conform to the standards set by others.
In Diablo II, I had an Amazon who ended up wearing a fat suit of armour and using melee attacks more than using ranged attacks. Then I read up that Amazons are more suited to ranged combat, and I instantly started to hate this creation of mine – this abomination. This led to me starting a new game and losing all my progress, and going through the same hack and slash affair all over.
So what if your character is flawed, or goes against the grain? You had fun while you were training up the misfit, so why throw it all away just because somebody says it’s wrong? It’s just a game. Some people take it all too seriously. You can always refine your approach later on after you yourself learn the ins and outs. It’s a bit like life itself: yes, you can learn from the experiences and mistakes of others, but in some cases, it can be more rewarding to figure things out for yourself.
Take a break
After you finish a game, take a break for a while. I find it’s about the same as watching a movie. I don’t really want to watch another movie straight afterwards. I might need a short break – maybe a day or two, before watching another one. With games it’s pretty much the same. I only really play one game a month on average, totalling about a dozen a year, including mods.
After I finish a game, I might mess around with it a bit, and explore other features it has to offer. Then I might write a review of it, and dwell on it for a bit. In a sense it’s a bit like a relationship. Sometimes the best thing to do when one has ended is to take a break for a while. Then after I’ve gotten over a game, I’ll move on to the next one. Sometimes I jump in too soon after having finished playing a game, and it doesn’t keep me playing.
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© 2014 ANDR01D
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