I still haven’t beaten Metal Gear Solid V. I’ve been playing the game off and on for over a year now and reached the first “ending” but that’s only about halfway through the game. I know the game is in the drawer next to my PS4 underneath Witcher 3 which I’m really close to wrapping up too. Of course, both of those games are underneath my Gamefly rentals, Dead Rising 4 and Resident Evil 7, which I can’t wait to try. But I really need to get to Nioh…
I’ve taken arguably some of game’s hardest challenges. I beat Battletoads, the NES’s Ghostbusters, and Contra (without the Konami code). I’ve punched out Judge Doom, unlocked all of Goldeneye’s unlockables, and enjoyed the punishing difficulties of the Ninja Gaiden series. But all of those pale in comparison to the insurmountable task of staying on top of so many worthwhile new games. Game fatigue is the hardest challenge I’ve encountered in 30 plus years of playing games.
It’s not just about things left incomplete. The pressure to finish a game can affect how you feel about the overall experience. Game reviewers notoriously deal with this all of the time with imminent review deadlines and precious little time to fully enjoy an experience. Games regularly get called out for prolonged playtimes. At times it’s justified as the devs artificially increased length through mundane tasks (e.g. fishing for Triforce pieces in Wind Waker), however a game like Alien Isolation got destroyed by IGN for “moving the goal posts” when it introduced a compelling and thoroughly fitting third act which the reviewer likely didn’t expect again with a quickly approaching deadline.
This effect isn’t unique to professional game reviewers though. By all accounts Dishonored 2 is a great game. The sequel delivers another enjoyable story in this fully realized world that injects steampunk into Dickensian London and remarkably provides compelling reasons to replay the game multiple times. It’s a stunning accomplishment but I’ll have to take the word of so many critics as I only made it to level 5 on my first playthrough. Life and other games just got in the way. I’ve tried to go back, but the story escapes me at this point and it’s hard to feel motivated to keep going. I’m realizing more and more that a game has to be more than good, a game has to come out at a time that’s good for you.
For many gamers the hours we had to grind to max out our characters or search to every corner of a game are a thing of the past. Jobs, school, families, kids, relationships, these understandably take priority as you get older. When you have perhaps a couple of hours a few times a week to play it’s unrealistic to try to take on ever 50+ hour game that comes out.
I admire Kotaku’s honesty tackling this topic. Their reviews these days are open to describe exactly how much of a game they played before they rendered a verdict and they don’t always make it to the end. Perhaps the best tactic to fight game fatigue is just to starve it. Don’t worry about making it to the end of every game. Acknowledge there may be some great games you may just never play in the interest of your sanity. The cost of sleep deprivation to your work and with your relationships isn’t always worth it to finish up another raid.
I’ll consider changing my approach soon enough and hopefully getting rid of this unnecessary pressure – just once I finally see how Hideo Kojima finished up MGS5, and what’s at the end of The Witcher 3’s fabulous campaign, oh and I really should playthru Nioh, especially before the Switch gets here…