Change is necessary: you do the same thing day in day out, you burn out, you eat the same food day in day out, you get fed up. Video games, while less serious, are exactly the same.
After booting up my copy of Red Dead Redemption 2, I was determined to finish the cowboy epic. About 60 hours of gun slinging and exploring later, I was exhausted. I had seen all I wanted to of the Wild West, and after trying to do every side quest I could find and watching the game’s amazing movie-level cut scenes, I needed something more manageable. It wasn’t just that RDR2 is too big – it was the game’s ceaseless adherence to realism, the game stops to get on your horse, and the fact that most actions have quite long animations.
While these expansive, detailed worlds are cool to exist in, if you want to truly complete the game, you have to put in hundreds of hours. And in the case of games like Destiny 2, an infinite amount of time, as the game is updated over its life. If you, like me, have quite a low boredom threshold, you will inevitably get fed up with the game. After feeling worn out with massive games like these, I took a look at my library in search of something else that suited my needs.
Having shorter, more focused games to get along with can be good. When you start and finish a game in a few hours, you get a nice wee buzz of completion. Getting to see those credits roll is a completely singular feeling; you’re more exhausted than finishing a book, you’re more invested than with a movie, and you can just sit there for a minute and know you did that. For so many of the big open world games, you’re never gonna see the credits – they may just be too large, or the game could peter away with little to keep you invested.
In looking through my library, I was hit with how many games I had added and either never touched or only played for a few brief hours. On the list was: Bloodborne (a challenging action RPG), Hollow Knight (dark platformer, with lots of Metroidvania elements), and Dragon Quest XI (cutesy Japanese RPG). I realised that I had been on a total platformer kick recently, after enjoying games like Dead Cells and Cyber Shadow. I decided to boot up Hollow Knight: it would provide challenge, a beginning and end, and it is super critically acclaimed, so even if I didn’t like it, I’d have a spicy take for Twitter.
Luckily I did enjoy it, and running around as a little bug, meeting and fighting other bugs, and exploring the dark Hallownest was a super gratifying experience.
It’s not all about booting up games and taking them for a spin for a few hours, or checking out new games on sale. Checking back in with old favourites and being blasted back to the time you first started your journey with a game is also a headspace cleaner. A prime example is Skyrim. Make a new character and head out into the icy wastes of a fantasyland for a few hours.
It doesn’t have to be Skyrim; any familiar friend from the past is great, but I think having a place to centre yourself and take a breather is important. Video games should be a way to destress and hang out in digital worlds, and if these boxes are not being ticked, are you really having fun?
Another easy way to catch up on older games or try out new vibes is Microsoft and Sony’s free game options. On Playstation, you have access to Playstation Plus, which offers games every month for a yearly subscription. You can also take advantage of 100% free games with Playstation’s Play From Home promotion without subscription – in the past they’ve has stellar games like Enter the Gungeon and Horizon: Zero Dawn for free. On Xbox, you can use Games Pass, which is a subscription-based games service with an ever growing library of games; it is arguably the best deal in gaming.
Video games, like other forms of art, are about exploring new ideas and having fun. At the end of the day, if this isn’t being done for you, change it up. This could be trying a new game, heading back to an old favourite and just hanging, or it could just be a way of unplugging from the real world for a bit. Play games, don’t play games, do what you want. Just be sure to have fun while doing it.