Editorial: Gamer’s Fatigue

I did not play any videogames today.

It’s my favorite pastime, and yet somehow I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a controller and play… anything. At all. What’s worse is that I actually have these days fairly often, and sometimes these days stretch into entire weeks. What’s especially strange is that when this happens, I find myself with a rather odd feeling of guilt, like I’m betraying myself.

The number one reason for this feeling, in my opinion, is the overwhelming number of releases we are subjected to as gamers these days. It’s hardly worth complaining about the fact that game companies make games, but every gamer in the world occasionally feels the need to hit a “pause” button, freeze the industry in place, and finish their backlogs. It’s especially bad for people such as myself; I’m still trying to catch up on a fair number of PS2 and even PSX titles.

Chinese Donuts.
Chinese Donuts.

While this flood of releases generally encourages me to play games like mad, it also can have the exact opposite effect and cause me to utter something along the lines of “frack this.” Shortly thereafter I generally find myself browsing the interwebs, or sitting in front of South Park. (Mmmm, South Park.) Kinda like a really overstuffed Chinese buffet, where you know you’ll probably just end up eating chinese donuts and hitting up the ice cream machines afterward. Or… something.

It sounded like a better analogy in my head. Not so much when I typed it out. MOVING ON.

Bologna Sammich.
Bologna Sammich.

Another problem is that I’m spoiled. Frankly, I have a really hard time spending significant lengths of time with something that doesn’t knock my socks off. Sure, I might play Mass Effect for a few hours or so, but it takes something like Dead Space to make me fire up my PS3 or 360 on a daily basis. This is likely due to the fact that, like most other adults, my gametime is pitifully finite. When I was a kid I could spend insane amounts of time with literal garbage like, say, Spider-Man 2, and still have all the time in the world. But oh, how things change. Kinda like the choice between a bologna sandwich on bunny bread and a deli-style turkey club with the works on a hoagie roll.

I think I need to go play a game to clear my head. My analogies, at the very least, seem to be suffering for it. But before I go, I ask: do any of you fine readers experience the same troubles? And, like me, does it make you feel… guilty? Or am I talking about things that might be better suited for a black leatherbound diary?

0 comments

  1. @SN: Indeed.

    Seriously though, the game industry’s output is absolutely off the wall. I’m not really sure why, however. Like you, I remember when not nearly as many games came out in a year. Seems like games had a longer period to stay on people’s minds. Now it’s like we’re moving onto the next thing every other month. Kinda sad, really, as I think the industry at large would be better off slowing down a bit, going with quality over quantity. Then again, that’s just me.

  2. @MC – Yup, and as a kid, I had more time too. I had the time to play a game like Pod Racer for 8 hours in a day. That also made the games feel like they came out at a slower pace. When I have less time for games, it’s easier to be overwhelmed. And then, well, Oliver explained it.

  3. IMO the problem isn’t that there are too many games, well not entirely, it’s that games are released unevenly throughout the year. Everything’s scheduled to be released in either the Summer or Winter holiday periods, thus for months at a time it’s difficult to keep up with releases and then suddenly I’ll hit a dry patch where nothing interesting comes out for a few months. Also it probably seems worse for us these days because there are more consoles to own. Back when I was a kid I only had one main console at a time, now I have a PS3, 360, PSP, DS and PC, along with access to virtually any past ROM or ISO that I could care to track down. To say that I’m spoiled by choice would be putting it mildly.

  4. This “Gaming Burnout” also has to do with the way many games operate nowadays.

    Often the gameplay pattern is monotone and once you got
    used to it, it doesnt change pace during your
    playthrough of what seems like an overstreched story put into the game to kill your time.

    Most games nowadays attempt to be too easy,
    tailored for the mainstream casual gamer,
    and dont offer a good challenge or even encourage you to explore the game world.

    Ever since minimaps got introduced to RPGs I dont feel the need to explore half of the areas anymore,
    because I see no point in walking into a dead end.
    With such a convenient navigation computer
    displaying all invisible walls and limitations of
    the area my character is in, the illusion of a living and breathing world is pretty much shattered.

    In fact, following such a linear path just to read your way through a mediocre story quickly makes you put such games down.
    It feels like riding a train, and at every train station you get a story snippet.
    At the final station you have to get off the game: “Hope you enjoyed your ride !” – except that you feel like you had to pull the train there yourself,
    after all these boring, mindless random encounters on the way.

    So its really no wonder why people “switch trains” halfway through.

    Today most games are linear, interactive movies with much emphasis on the graphics, little emphasis on gameplay and predictable monotone patterns.

    With one exception: Multiplayer games.

    The reason why Multiplayer games stand out is simple:
    Players dont follow the same script over and over, the game stays fresh for a longer amount of time
    and people just love to laugh at people weaker than them.

  5. If you don’t like mini-maps most games allow you to turn them off :/

    I still explore regardless because I like the treasure.

  6. @SiliconNooB:

    All you said in your comment is pretty much true.

    I dont have a problem with the quantity of games,
    but with the quality.

    It probably started with the “Generation Wii”,
    when publishers noticed that you can make the same
    amount of money with a crappy and cheaply produced Wario Ware game as
    with an epic game produced over the course of 3 years.

    Its true. And its sad.

    This wave of casual gaming is by no means a bad thing for gaming, but for us “hardcore” gamers (I dont really like the terminology) it is a problem and as it seems, highly contagious:

    It strikes me as quite curious indeed.
    At E3 Nintendo introduced their brandnew peripheral for the Wii which looks suspiciously like a penisring.
    Sony followed up with their presentation of glowing dildos with integrated motion sensors.
    And Microsoft brought a little virtual boy to the table, which caused several homosexual priests in the vatican to frolic.

    I pretty much accepted the fact that I have to own every single console there is, digging up my grandmas skeleton and paying them by selling her golden teeth along with my kidneys.

    That too would be absolutely fine with me if my XBOX wasnt suicidal and didnt die all few weeks..

    It is probably very depressed. About the future of gaming.

  7. “At E3 Nintendo introduced their brandnew peripheral for the Wii which looks suspiciously like a penisring.
    Sony followed up with their presentation of glowing dildos with integrated motion sensors.
    And Microsoft brought a little virtual boy to the table, which caused several homosexual priests in the vatican to frolic.”

    It’s funny because it it is true.

    I must fully concur that I’m very dissilusioned about gaming these days. I see hardcore gamers place within the industry as very tenuous, and at risk of slipping into the mire of casual gaming and cheap gimmicks. Infact M$ has recently stated that their launch of natal will be on the same scale as the launch of the 360, would that Natal were aborted.

    http://kotaku.com/5287069/natal-launch-will-be-as-big-as-360s

  8. I get the “guilty” feeling. Lately I have next to no free time, but even though I have a mountain of games in my backlog, I end up watching some crappy movie on TV or surfing the web for news about, ironically, games. Then I feel bad for not using my time more “productively”. Hopefully it’s just a side effect of me adapting to this new schedule.

  9. Haha yeah I’m pretty bad at doing that myself, I spend heaps of time online pinning for future game releases and hunting down scans and info, and then they come out and I don’t play them. XD

  10. @Epyon and SN – Interesting! I can relate a little bit too. No matter how often I’m playing games, I’m generally ALWAYS following the industry. I’d take it as a good sign, it means we’re genuinely interested in that world. And not feeling like it’s “productive” is likely the fault of many things, but that’s whole other article for a whole other site.