As my pending nuptials creep inside the “one month to go” mark, I’ve found myself very distracted from gaming, blogging, and blogging about gaming, aside from the occasional burst of motivation. And as ill-timed as this may be, I’ve also been suffering through a rough bout of Gamer’s Block! What is usually my go-to for relaxation after a day of work has only brought confusion when trying to focus on a game for an hour or so at night.
It all started after I finished Hey! Pikmin, and tried to move straight on to the next title I received on the same day: Miitopia. Don’t get me wrong, Miitopia is a fun time, but it wasn’t gripping me, as I haven’t been really craving any RPGs lately, and nothing about it really pushes you to keep playing. In fact, it has a little built-in “would you like to keep playing, or take a break?” feature that always seemed to pop up right when I thought I’d made enough progress, which seemed to be once every three levels.
What I’ve come to realize about Miitopia is that it’s best enjoyed with the same play style as games like Animal Crossing: 20-30 minutes at a time. Binge-playing it doesn’t quite yield the same reward, as there isn’t really a whole lot to do in-game, and the charm of it would presumably wear thin if you attempted to binge it for over an hour. The hilarious character interactions and general quirkiness are perfect for 20 minutes or so, but it rarely escalated past that. I’ve made some good progress, but still, RPGs just weren’t doing it for me.
I’d also been wanting to “save myself” for Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, the collector’s edition of which, to my knowledge, is loaded into a truck somewhere, creeping closer to my home address by the minute. Now this game is something I’ve been looking forward to for almost a year when I played my first Ys game in the series, so this is a must-play. I also have roughly 50 combined hours of air-travel on my two-week honeymoon to Thailand approaching rapidly, which means that I’ll have plenty of time to invest in something deep and time-consuming like a brand-spanking-new Ys game.
The next game on the horizon that I’m simply going bonkers waiting for is, of course, none other than Metroid: Samus Returns. It comes out this Friday, but due to my shortsightedness, I’m realizing that my GameStop order for the Special Edition probably won’t even arrive till Monday, assuming it ships out on Friday. I made a huge mistake in the ordering process, and now I’ll have several days to not play one of my most anticipated games in years. Well, crap.
It’s definitely been a perfect storm of not wanting to get too deep into any new games, what with all the incredible games that September will have to offer. So how did I, and how can you, break a spell like this, where you simply can’t bring yourself to jump into anything?
Don’t fret, because Geddy’s got tips of how to break the spell.
Revisiting Your Backlog
Diving into ones’ backlog can be much easier said than done, depending on the size of it. I’ve done a lot of chatting about backlog management before, and this does not translate to going through your work load and completing games because you have to. That is not the point here, at all.
Find a game on your backlog that’s, a) short. Nothing more than 10 hours. There’s gotta be something. Maybe an indie game you heard about and picked up during a Steam sale for $2. Anything that might pique your interest. And b) different from the last game you played. If you just finished Final Fantasy X, don’t move on to Final Fantasy IX, unless you really want to burn yourself out. If you just finished PicrossE, don’t pick up all the sequels. Change up what you’re doing!
Not only that, but take the time to go over your backlog and evaluate whether or not you even want to play those games on there. Games in progress? Do you even want to finish them? HowLongToBeat.com has a great feature where you can “retire” a game. Not lying to yourself and saying that you beat it, but simply telling yourself “I’ve gotta my money’s worth, but I’m all good.” I’ve retired plenty of games recently that I enjoyed but simply don’t want to commit my limited time to finishing it. And yes, I’m sorry to say, but Pokemon Pearl is one of them.
I went into my backlog of games I had yet to finish, and I wrapped up Kamiko on the Nintendo Switch. I was finally able to focus on a game with a short life, that would be completed in a matter of an hour or so. I also picked up Rayman Advance for the GameBoy Advance, and I played it for probably 3 hours or so. Something about the retro aesthetic of the GBA makes me want to play games again, even when I get burned out, or like in this case, simply can’t commit to anything.
In other words, when all else fails, go back in time!
Messing Around with your Hardware
You may recall a few weeks ago, I posted about my acquisition of a beautiful used PSP. I spent a good amount of time fooling around with it and setting it up how I liked. I even did some light cosmetic work on it to truly make it my own (images pending!), and this got me interested in reading up on a system I had never really cared about before.
I’ve also been fiddling around with an old DS Lite that I had spilled some infusing oil on many years ago, and it was a rather cathartic experience playing around with the hardware, opening it up, and looking around at it, rather than playing games. I used to do this with my PC as well – when I wasn’t feeling up to playing any games, I would disassemble my case and clean it out, re-route wires, and basically do a “spring cleaning” of sorts.
Of course, this kind of thing may be out of your comfort level, and for that, I recommend:
Trying Something Completely Different
Regarding the PSP, I was finally able to get into a shorter game and play it to completion in a matter of about a week and a half. This was probably the first 3D platformer I had played in ages and truly enjoyed from start to finish!
Additionally, when I needed a break from playing Daxter, the other “completely different” game I chose was a puzzle game on the Switch eShop called Piczle Lines DX. Inspired by a fantastic review on the title by Mr. Panda, I was sold on the concept due to my pre-existing condition of loving Picross, and it’s been very calming to play at night on my couch while watching Let’s Plays on my TV.
Both of these games were outside of the realm of games I’d been playing, and it really helped to bridge the gap between July and September with Ever Oasis/Hey! Pikmin and Ys VIII/Metroid: Samus Returns with some smaller, “short-burst gameplay” titles.
Taking a Step Away
Of course, you always have the nuclear option: stop gaming entirely! Stop blogging about it, stop reading about it, just walk away and do something else. This option generally sucks in the short-term, but in the long-term, there aren’t many better options in terms of guaranteeing that it’ll work. Either you’ll stop gaming long enough to miss it dearly and want to play something, or you’ll go a while without gaming, discover something new, and then slowly make your way back some day. Or not. Gaming is just another hobby, of course, and sometimes you can overdo it.
To be honest, I think my issue of Gamer’s Block was a simple case of doing too much of it, but the smaller games played for shorter periods of time made me realize I was just playing games to kill time until the newest games in the Ys and Metroid series came out. Luckily, I discovered a new love, the PSP, in that time, and got to fiddle around with some smaller titles, rather than force myself to get through Miitopia.
I’ve also noticed that in the Summer, I play games far less, as I spend all my time outside, and now with a new house, I’ve found a new love in sweet power tools. I’ve noticed a drop in posts in other bloggers too, and it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only fella out there who needs a break sometimes!
My 3DS Activity Log tells me that the vast majority of “deeper” long titles have been played in the cold winter months, and it’s not surprising to have wanted a break in the summer. But as the temperatures steadily drop to the beautiful Fall, I think I’ll begin to seek the comforts of my handhelds. Especially since one of my most anticipated followups drops right after the Christmas madness.
And the title of that game rhymes with Kreenoblade Zonicles Deux.
Thanks for reading! Have you run into a lack of motivation to play games? Do you fall into the “seasonal gamer” category? Are you in a bit of a lull waiting for a game at the moment? Let’s chat about it in the comments!