Video games are a fantastic hobby. As gamers, we know this. They offer escapism, safety nets, and ways to socialise with our friends. But sometimes, even though we know they’re fun, the thought of playing one can fill us with dread.
Whether you’re going through something in your personal life, or you’re feeling burned out on a particular game, it’s totally normal to occasionally feel like games just don’t scratch that itch like they used to. If you’re feeling this way, here are a few helpful tips that might help you fall back in love with video games.
Block out some time
Life is busy. Balancing jobs, relationships, and personal care can all become a little too much once in a while. It’s easy to let the little things slide when things get overwhelming, and self care usually loses priority.
I know that when I used to procrastinate University assignments, the time I spent playing games was actually spent feeling guilty. My assignments weren’t getting done, nor was I even enjoying the game I was playing to distract my mind. It can be important to have that strict, blocked out time that you know is solely dedicated to your own enjoyment.
Start by scheduling one or two hours on a particular day that you know you can dedicate to playing some games. When it gets to that window, be strict with yourself. Put your phone on silent, and shut away any distractions. Hopefully, this will help you to fully focus on the game at hand and prevent the outside world from tarnishing your experience.
Replay an old favourite
There can be times when you begin to question whether video games are still something that you enjoy. Maybe it’s because your priorities have changed – it might be because you’ve gotten older, or you prefer different genres to when you were a child.
One excellent way to remind yourself of why games are fun is to replay an old classic that you know used to be your favourite. For me, that game will always be The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Sure, it doesn’t hold up as well as it used to. But it reminds me of simpler times before I had responsibilities and bills to pay.
Wandering through the realm of Tamriel with the soundtrack in the background reminds me of the countless hours I spent playing as a child. Meeting key figures of the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood feels like returning to long-lost friends that I haven’t spoken to in a while. It inspires a need to re-experience the story and sights that the world of Skyrim has to offer. Perhaps most importantly, it reminds me that I do, in fact, still have a love for video games.
Try something completely new
On the flip side, it might be that familiarity is part of the problem. Especially with live service games these days, it’s easy to get caught up in the grind before realising that the process isn’t actually that fun.
One way to combat this feeling is to throw yourself into the deep end with something totally new. Why not pick up a game of a genre that you’ve never played before? With services like Xbox Game Pass, it’s never been easier (or cheaper) to pick up titles that you’d never considered playing previously. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, we’ve compiled a list of the best games to play on Xbox Game Pass right now.
Celebrity gamers are particularly at risk of burning out on games. With streamers sometimes broadcasting for upwards of 10 hours a day, it’s no wonder that some personalities feel the need to switch games entirely. That’s what Warzone streamer NICKMERCS did last week when he ditched Call of Duty for Apex Legends. He said that playing Apex with friends made him feel ‘like a little kid again’. After Warzone ran his enjoyment of multiplayer games into the ground, he’s managed to rekindle his love for competitive gaming with Apex.
Jump on with friends
Part of the reason that NICKMERCS cited loving Apex so much is because he was queueing up off-stream with friends. After living in the COVID era for more than 18-months, we know that social interaction can be more important than ever for our mental health.
Luckily, multiplayer games offer the perfect outlet for that. Getting thrashed in Battlefield matches doesn’t feel great when playing as a lone wolf. When riding around the map as a squad, it’s far easier to make light of a bad gameplay situation.
Jumping on with friends doesn’t have to be limited to multiplayer games, either. Recently, I’ve enjoyed hanging out in Discord calls with my mates while we all play the same single player game. Death’s Door took up a significant portion of my weekend as we all screenshared our games in Discord and helped each other through each area.
Communication services like Discord have proven themselves vital for friendship groups over the course of the pandemic. Even as restrictions begin to lift in some parts of the world, who’s to say that the services have outlived their usefulness?
Stick something on in the background
With so much media out there for consumption, it can be hard to justify spending several hours of the day playing one video game. One way to make that time seem a little more worthwhile is to stick another piece of media on in the background while playing games.
I find that this usually works best with games that aren’t heavily focused on dialogue or narrative. Go-to categories are casual multiplayer scenarios or RPGs when you’re looking to tidy up those last collectibles.
It’s in these situations that putting on a podcast, audio book, or some sports in the background can help alleviate some of the repetition. The vast majority of the collectibles and side objectives I completed in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla were achieved while listening to one of several podcasts. For those days where it feels like there’s just not enough time in the day, combining two forms of media can be the way to go.
Switch up the platform
Burning out on video games can sometimes be because of feeling stuck in the same spot for days at a time. When you spend evening after evening staring at the same screen, playing games can begin to feel like a job. That issue is exacerbated when you work from home and the screen you game on might well be the same one that you work on.
In that case, you might find it helpful to switch up the place you play or work. For me, ever since I began using my gaming PC to work from home, the idea of spending another four hours sitting at the same desk to play a game is incredibly unappealing. For that reason, the PS5 has become my go-to console, purely because it means a change of location.
It’s certainly a privilege to have the choice of switching between two platforms. It can also help to physically change the location in which you play your games. The Switch is obviously the easiest console to do this with thanks to its portable nature. However, if you’re playing on an Xbox or PlayStation, consider re-arranging your gaming space to keep the feeling fresh.
Remember that it’s ok to take a break!
This last piece of advice is perhaps the most important on the list. You must remember that it’s ok to feel like you need to take a break from games. I don’t just mean going for lunch or taking a nap. Your priorities in life will regularly change and games might not always rank that high on the list. In any case, taking a break to focus on other things might offer you new perspectives when you return to them.
It can be easy to let FOMO [fear of missing out] to force you into playing games to keep up appearances. But keeping up with the Joneses just to remain in the circle of conversation isn’t a healthy way to consume games. Forcing yourself to play when you know that you’re not having fun can end up doing more harm than good.
If you have worries about your mental health, there are several charities that you can reach out to for help. Safe In Our World is a mental health charity that focuses on mental health in the games industry. There’s also the Samaritans which has a 24-hour hotline, and Mind which has plenty of online resources. It might also be possible to discuss any worries you may have with your GP.
Looking for upbeat gaming news? You’ll likely enjoy our Feel Good Gaming series which highlights wholesome and uplifting news stories from within the world of gaming. Give it a watch below!
Do you have any tried and tested techniques that you use to overcome gaming burnout. Let us know across our social channels.
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Featured Image Credit: Sony