Prevent Gaming Anxiety: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About My Backlog
I’ve been a gamer since I can remember — starting out with a Commodore VIC-20 and games like Blitz and Frogger. There was a time in my life, in recent history, where I was able to buy whatever I wanted and largely play it too, even if that meant finding time between 10pm and the early hours of the morning, between time with my wife and work. It was fine — this was what I wanted to do, whether it was continuing my everlasting Dark Souls experience or aiming for the platinum on some ridiculously bad game because, you know, I wanted to keep my trophy streak going as it was longer than ever before (yes, this really happened).
But, you know, things change. I’ve now got two small people to look after (one pretty small and one incredibly small). Fitting gaming into my life is a pretty damned hard thing to do. I’d say that since we launched this site, 90% of all my gaming has been for Jump Dash Roll purposes, like reviewing another version of Dark Souls. The rest has been because I really really wanted to play a game because it was part of the zeitgeist, or meant to be really good, or the kind of thing I used to always play, enjoy and complete before moving on. Titles which fit into this 10% would include God of War, Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemption 2.
Everybody raved about Kratos’ latest; Spider-Man is Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemption 2 was a sequel to perhaps Rockstar’s finest in my experience and again a game everyone would play and there’d be no avoiding — be it people just talking about what they did, or perhaps spoiling the whole thing. I’ve played each of them — enjoyed them, too — but not got near the end of any. I haven’t had the time to, really, but nor have I had — and this is the kicker — the inclination.
I’ve been thinking about why, given my immense veracity ahead of release; my need to get hold of them and play. Why then, if they’re fun and enjoyable and thrilling in parts, would I feel so apathetic towards completing them? Jump Dash Roll and pretty much everyone else would agree they’re delightful games.
I’m tempted to explore life as a parent and the impact that has on life as a gamer — or enthusiast of anything I’d wager — but I think perhaps I’ve not gone through even part of the gamut that will yield. I mean what about when my children show an interest in gaming, or I try and generate such a thing by demonstrating gaming’s brilliant history through the ages with carefully chosen snapshots of gaming on a very focused and linear timeline?
I won’t explore that, then. It’s not really relevant to the question at hand, namely: why must I play a game until I just mustn’t anymore? I think what is relevant is the way the world is these days. Just cast your mind back to the days leading up to God of War’s reviews dropping. Word on the street was out of this motherfucking world. Everybody was suggesting it was the business. This gets people excited. The internet, via Reddit, Twitter, Jump Dash Roll and other sites, then enhance the excitement. Each excited person and each interaction with another on the web, through whatever tool, increases the expectation, excitement and hope. By the time the reviews drop everybody’s exponentially excited compared to before they’d really registered the game was soon to be out. Then, the reviews support all of this, and more.
Fucking hell. God of War is going to be the greatest game in the history of mankind. Therefore, how can you not be there day one, playing and experiencing it? What if you miss out, or someone spoils it or, or, well, anything else really? That cannot happen, can it?
Think about other games and other media. What of Red Dead Redemption 2, Avengers: Endgame or the final season of Game of Thrones? The marketing machine, the creative success — it’s all guiding the world to the point that it must be experienced, now, and that whatever it takes is good to go. The advent of the internet, things like Twitter and mobile devices — it’s all created a world where pleasure can never be delayed and everybody must be involved; there is to be no missing out.
Until, there can be. Until it’s fine. Until the situation settles back into reality, rather than whatever has been decried by all of the above. This is when I’ve played God of War, tried Spider-Man and loaded up Red Dead Redemption 2. At that point I sate that immediate fear of missing out, that need to be part of the group experience. Then, what can happen is that real life can take over once more. Tiny people remain top of mind and everything else fades into noise. And you know what? The world hasn’t ended; I haven’t missed out because Bob down the street has completed the journey of a boy and his Dad. I have not had everyone in the street shouting the ending of God of War in my face as if they were my subconscious as Inception described it.
What all of this means is open to interpretation of course. Laying it all out has helped clarify things for me though. Fundamentally, games are important to me and great games are something I want to play. I can do that whenever; I’m still open to completing Ocarina of Time one day after all. The rest of life means that this isn’t my overriding need though. However, that desire cannot be suppressed and the rabid fawning of others across the world supports the superceded, underlying need, coming to the fore at one point in time. What I know from experience is that it’s unimportant and I don’t need to scratch that itch as time’s passing will likely do it for me.
Now, what’s that about The Last of Us Part 2…?
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