Suffering through game fatigue.

4f03f7ac47f93db49a27d325c3cb5ff6It’s a self-prescribed disease. That unpleasant tiredness that always affects even avid game enthusiasts. When you bemoan the sight of scattered game cases, or a controller lazily placed to the side, or commercials hyping the greatest virtual thing ever. All pixel adventurers can relate, and wish to avoid it like the plague. If one thing is absolutely inexorable, it’s game fatigue.

The worst part is, sometimes, the desire to play never disappears. You still have the passion and eagerness to immerse yourself in a game, but you stare blankly at the computer screen or console dashboard until you surrender and go watch TV. To any gaming fan, this is hell. (That might be taking the metaphor overboard, maybe a tad.) The problem is even worse because our brains come programmed to not accept defeat, but to power through obstacles and stomp maliciously on defeat’s innards. (Again, metaphors are glorious.)

When gamer fatigue terrorizes your mind, the body shuts down at any game-related sights. You may still pick up a game, or two, or five, but only because Saturdays are normally boring and games make for great timesinks. At that moment, glaring intensely at the screen, you lose value and enjoyment in the game itself by forcing it. Especially with new games, the early-morning excitement of unwrapping plastic perishes quickly and a frustrated mind can’t entirely process the events happening before you.

I am operating in one of these funks–to play because it’s what I know. My console and short stack of games are handily available anytime. But as those who suffer from game fatigue commonly do, I stare glassy-eyed upon what I would perceive as enthralling. I’m universally disinterested in any digital or virtual property, and on the laziest of Saturdays, all I care to do is listen to podcasts. Not gaming podcasts, of course.

The feeling springs from nowhere. Not one single thing can be blamed for this exhaustion, but a collection of scenarios can contribute: for one, playing a generation-defining title like BioShock Infinite; spending ungodly amounts of minutes in the sometimes glitchy, sometimes awesome world of Defiance; or recalling the tense wilderness (and epic bear fights) in Tamriel’s northern province Skyrim. Playing through a throng of great titles only to have the instinct slowly drained, then to recover from the summer lull in time for Christmas.

Gaming fatigue is cyclical, but as with anything, the underlying passion never dies. It’s the momentum to play. And for a time, that mysteriously disappears. After expunging so many hours of my life in someone else’s digital paradise, it’s understandable why this tiredness happens, even just to give the mind pause or time to collect itself. And to spend those countless hours diving into other activities and passions–speaking of which, I am considering branching out the content on Holygrenade to cover film and tech and how modern consumable media affects our world. (I already have somewhat, but plan on it more. We’ll see.)

Mario sleeping picture courtesy of MCV UK.

To the readers: Do you ever get fatigued from games? Or reading about games? Or, more broadly, in life?

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  • http://twitter.com/garcia4me notes4me

    Interesting article. I’m going through the same thing. I can only play a few hours at a time now a days. I wonder the switch from CRT to the LED/LCD TV’s have anything to do with it (refresh rates & stuff). Still buy games in hope to play them in future, but never get around to it. (Starting to think it’s gamer’s hording)
    This maybe the tip of the iceberg as more senior gamers get tired of 40+ hours of weekly gaming. Time will tell.

  • http://chalgyrsgameroom.blogspot.com/ Chalgyr

    Actually – pretty interesting topic, Jeff. Have I ever had this… I don’t believe so. I know people who have, but my nature’s a bit more um… obsessive than most I suppose. I like such a wide variety of games, that there’s always *something* I am interested in. The closest I have come is a game that has lost my interest. Then it’s a matter of whether or not I am going to finish it – it almost becomes a chore. But honestly? I still try to read, write and play whatever games I can.

  • FakeKisser

    I kind of feel like this, sometimes, but I usually just read more or watch a couple movies for a week or so, and then I’m ready to go back to games. Usually, the way this manifests for me, though, is to feel less enthusiastic with the games I’m playing. For example, I’m loving Fez, but I am having a hard time getting motivated to solve all of the complicated puzzles. I just feel like moving on to another game where I don’t have to put as much thought. However, I know I’ll return to the puzzles after a bit of rest. :)

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