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The Daily Grind: Five Reasons You’re Burning Out on Games

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If you’re at all familiar with the term ‘Everything in moderation’, you’re probably aware that it doesn’t often resonate with gamers. We’re stubborn like that.

When you get ahold of a game and decide it’s going on your “Greatest Games Ever” shelf, you’ll find that it’s a bit difficult to actually put it down. You can’t wait to get home from class or school or work and plop yourself down in front of the screen for the next few hours, brushing off those nagging obligations like persistent gnats. You’ll brainstorm about potential class builds, how much gold you have and how to gain more, or the best strategy for defeating that one boss.

But one day, you’ll wake up, go through your usual routine, and find that the very last thing you want to see ever again is “The Greatest Game Ever.” Here are some reasons why you’re burning out on games and how to avoid it!

1. You’re exhausting yourself.

We’re simply not meant to sink all of our time, energy, and thought processes into a single thing, with nothing to mix it up in between. Games are like candy – If you violently shove bag after bag of cinnamon flavored Jelly Belly candies down your neck every other day, the only thing you’re going to accomplish is an eventual hatred of all things cinnamon.

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This is how it’s possible to start hating something you loved with every fiber of your being. Jobs, relationships, books, classes, hobbies – Everything needs breathing room, and games aren’t an exception. If you sink several hours into a game per day, you’re going to get bored too quickly to finish it. Even if you do finish it, you’re not likely to keep enjoying the journey. The game becomes that one chore you have to complete before moving on to the next, which doesn’t really increase the likelihood that you’ll pick it up again any time soon. If you think about it, this is actually how gaming backlogs start. Play something else for awhile when you have some extra time to burn before you skip off to the forums to claim “There’s nothing to do! This game’s boring!”

2. Your guild is a ball and chain. 

Of course, it’s kind of difficult to put a game down for awhile when you’re the main healer in your raiding guild.

I’m going to give you a piece of advice you’ve probably heard before, but not nearly often enough: You’re allowed to take days away from your guild, community, or gaming group. Your mental health comes first, and if you find that logging on to World of Warcraft is a daily struggle, and healing’s become akin to begrudgingly cleaning your toilet, you need a break. A long one.

Unfortunately, in the guilds where the most frequent exchange of dialogue between officers and members is “RAID RAID RAID KILL KILL KILL”, it can be hard to squeeze out some days off. That overenthusiastic guild leader has suddenly become a stronger force of nature than your own boss, threatening to just boot you from the guild if you’re not willing to make raid times despite the fact that you have a job and other responsibilities. Instead of tailoring your schedule to meet insane demands, find a guild that actually recognizes the fact that people have lives. A group built on stress isn’t a good group, period. Step back, take a few weeks off, and find a new guild that isn’t going to put demands on you that you can’t realistically meet. Gaming is supposed to be fun, and when other people start to suck the fun away, it might be time to bow out.

3. You’re blowing through the content faster than Michael Bay’s dynamite supply.

Point A to Point B gaming, while efficient, can contribute to how fast you’re crashing and burning.

Scott Cawthon’s Five Nights at Freddy’s is simple to play, but far, far more detailed in story and gameplay than you’d ever think possible in a tiny point and click horror game. In a sense, the game doesn’t let you fall into a repetitive  ‘beat the game’ complacency. In fact, it’s extremely ill-advised to play the game this way. With characters that memorize the player’s habits from hour to hour and God knows how many unexplained story elements, the only thing that’s going to save you from a bloody, furry death is constantly being on your toes and a hefty amount of respect for the AI.

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Look, it’s for your own good, ok?

Play styles differ from person to person, but you might rekindle your interest in a particular game by simply playing it a different way. Game developers don’t put their time and effort into a game they meant for people to be finished with in a week. Take some time to actually read a quest or two, or look up a challenge for the game you’re playing and try to complete it. Go on an easter egg hunt and track down something you’ve never experienced before. You’re not required to beat the game’s main plot and put it away immediately, but neither are you required to go the extra mile and explore what else the game has to offer. You never know, though – That extra mile might just rekindle your interest.

4. You let the ‘hype’ dictate what you play and how you play it.

Just because everyone and their mother is halfway through Dark Souls II a week after its release doesn’t mean you have to, as well. Unfortunately, the frequency at which videogames are hyped up, released, and played tends to stoke the fires of desire. It’s middle school all over again, and you have to have that game whether you were interested in it initially or not. However, instead of begging your mother for the new Game Boy, you’re dropping your own cash on a game you’ll probably play for two days and then go back to whatever you were playing before. Was it really worth the 50 bucks?

Simply put, hype is what brings the money in. It’s up to the players to decide whether or not it truly is ‘the most innovative game ever made’. When it comes down to it, you’ll still have people who enjoy the game and people who don’t, which successfully lines Gamestop’s shiny pre-owned shelves. If you know you’re going to enjoy the game, by all means, pick it up. But if you weren’t interested before, and the ensuing hype was what piqued your interest, it might be a good idea to wait a bit before you make the drive to your nearest game store. Buy that awesome game because you know it’s something you’ll want to put time into, not because the media’s singing its praises.

5. You’re always in the same spot.

I know, guys, I know. The NPCs don’t ever do anything you ask them to do. The graphics suck and there’s no venison chops in the bushes. Killing doesn’t yield gold and there’s no vast riches in the sewer (though that depends on what you classify as ‘riches’).

But you’re just going to burn out all the faster if you spend your days in front of a screen.

Take a jog in the park, or check out that new store across town you’ve been wanting to stick your head in. Go to the library, go grocery shopping, hang out on the pier. Call up some friends and suggest something non-gaming related. As I said in point 1, everything needs a break, even your personal life. Take a day where you don’t pick up the controller or open Steam at all, and get some other things done. Getting more enjoyment out of your hobby sometimes just means stepping away from it for awhile, and even the most dedicated players benefit from a few off days.

About Deborah Crocker

Deborah is a 22 year old semi-hermit currently plodding through her senior year of college and getting her feet wet in game journalism. She has a somewhat unhealthy obsession with high fantasy, video games, novels, and Elder Scrolls. When she's not in front of a screen, she enjoys singing and a bit of beading. She's also currently on the hunt for the restaurant with the best cheeseburger.

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