To Play a Game

Getting lost in getting lost

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m going to try and post more regularly now, but the posts will focus less on game design and more like a blog for me as a gamer.  I understand if this is less interesting or too different and if you don’t want to continue following that is fine.  Okay, on to the article.

There were a couple times in the past year where I realized I wasn’t really having fun playing a game.  I lost the whole point of playing games.  I wasn’t enjoying my time.  

There are a lot of different reasons to play video games, and honestly, I don’t think joy has to be one of them, but I wasn’t feeling any of those good reasons.  Due to mental health, sometimes I just play because I want to zone out or fend off some ill feelings.  Sometimes I am trying to get an achievement, and it’s not surprising that times like that are actually more frustrating than enjoyable, but it has a good purpose.  Sometimes I am just hanging out with friends while other times I want something where I can put my all, like Cataclysm mode in Warhammer: Vermintide II.  

And then there are times where I’m playing and I’m thinking, “Why am I doing this at all?”  Why am I spending time gathering herbs or searching for resources that I will then deposit into my bank and I will never ever use them because I am a hoarder?  I sometimes think of the lapse of time that goes through as I do menial tasks.   I admit I also find myself skeletonizing my tasks and thinking, is this all a waste of time?  It feels like the same thing as “game x”.  This can occur  on some of my favorite games as well.

Perhaps it’s my depression, or I really am just out of it, because those same moments can be reversed.  The best cure I’ve found for these moments is just…to stop caring about time.  I have such a hard time relaxing.  It really seems like a skill for me because I always have to think about progress or productivity.  I miss the days when I could sit on a chair in Maplestory and just chat with friends about random stuff.

Not too long ago I was playing Fallout 4 and I kept glancing at my phone because I had an early work meeting and all I could think of was, “Am I going to get enough sleep?  How much more can I squeeze in?”  Going through a tower full of raiders was not as exciting as it was when all I could think of was being productive with my time in a game that is known for being a time sink.  It took a while but I had to really let myself go and not think about time.  And soon I was  just having fun mowing down raiders.  It is really unfortunate that the culture of productivity dug its claws so deep into my life that it entered into the realm of my video game experience.  I would not be surprised if you, as a gamer, have felt that same dreadful feeling.

I find that not only do I perform well, but I also enjoy myself more when I let go of time.  The same kind of fun I had when I was a tiny child playing Goldeneye 007 on the N64 and we just…straight up played.  Sitting on the ground or a couch playing Super Mario World over and over and over again.  Or when I spent so much time just wandering around in Morrowind, sometimes just to see the sights.  I miss those times, and I feel the closest thing I can do to bringing back those times I played just to play is to stop worrying about time.  Either that or play with close friends or siblings.  Those times can get rambunctious and super fun.  

However, these days most of the time I play single player games, and because I spread my interests so thin, I always believe I need to be productive with my time.  In the end, I think the most productive and best use of my time is to just…play for fun again.  Not to worry about time and just…do what you’re supposed to do when you play a game and just get into it.  I hope that we don’t forget that passion that we had as gamers when we just played for fun or without regard to time.  We just let ourselves get lost in a different world.  And it was good.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see you again soon.

Elise

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