Too many games are feeling like "work" after playing a while

That all depends a lot on the game involved.
If it is a survival game at the core, then hunger & thirst mechanics just make sense, it’s all about resource management and planning ahead anyway, and finding food and drink in these is not usually trivial. I found one of the best games in this regard (while certainly not easiy accessible) is UnReal World, I could barely be plied away from that game two years ago during Christmas holidays…
Obviously, you have to like survival games and (very important) be in the mood for one right now.

But if some rudimentary “you need to eat/drink every X hours” is added to a game that otherwise has little to no resource management, it’s just a weird oddity that really has no place there. Sounds a lot like that would’ve been the case for Far Cry.

I think one of the silliest examples of this was the survival mode in Fallout: New Vegas: added some other welcome changes, but it also made you go thirsty - while at the same time giving you a canteen that never seems to empty. So effectively, you only get a “you drink a bit” message every now and then.

When I encounter some Bullshit Gameplay I instinctively remind myself that many great games feel harsh and unforgiving. I have to get into this platformer with its backtracking and unresponsive controls, it’ll feel great to master. I have to get familliar with this wargame cause it’s so true and historical. I have to die a few times to realize how mechanics work in this big cool roguelike.

But it’s a wrong comparison. I’ve mastered Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings, very complex games, without ever pushing myself. I battled through Slay the Spire - a game that requires you to memorize a lot of stuff and can murder you just because of bad luck - and it was all great. I’ve played gameplayless walking simulators that captured me so I know that if I feel bored it’s not because it’s gameplay like that.

Case in point, half an hour ago I tried Rime. Got it for free somewhere. Lovely soundtrack, intriguing premise. But gameplay is generic 3D platforming without any danger or challenge, like Prince of Persia Sands of Time in ultra-relaxing mode. Dropped it and didn’t allow all the good things in the game to talk me going back. I have a huge list of games ahead of me, and there’s plenty of comfort game that I know I can turn on and have a good predictable fun.

I did pick that up at Christmas, but haven’t yet given it any time. What you describe sounds great, though, and it’s now moved to the top of my pile of shame, thank you!

Would love to see someone try something similar with a more narrative-focused game. Although now I think on it, I remember some LucasArts adventures giving the option of a slimmed down version of the game, with fewer puzzles, but you would still get the full story.

This would explain why I am drawn to modding sometimes instead of the game itself.

Also, I’m refurbishing my flat so I get lots of achievement out of that!

Gaming thus is more to relax, and because of that I am enjoying it more.

Seems to me that a big factor is that most games seem to reflect a lot more thought as to how the early game will play, as opposed to the mid or late game. So once you get further into the game, you are really playing a much more poorly designed game. Pacing goes all to hell, options are not as interesting, etc.

I mean, it isn’t hard to see why this is the case. Reviews and buzz tend to be based on early gameplay, video might show the whole game but most people just watch the beginning. And developers are under a lot of economic and popular pressure to ship that game, so early game gets more love. And even if they intend to shore up the rest of the game later, so many of the public comments concern the early game.

I know that a lot of people feel internal pressure to finish games, but I really do not. I often re-start the same title many times, because in my eyes, the early game is really fun while the later game is not.

For me, there is a mental block that I cannot quite pin down. It is not just that games have changed, or that I am not a kid anymore. Instead, I almost feel like I have some type of ADHD or ongoing guilt that prevents me from getting deeply focused on an individual game any more. And it is not just an issue of free time - I have had a lot more free time lately, but it has not really improved the situation.

I feel this kind of constant edginess as an adult (but that does not necessarily come from being an adult - it feels more like a mental issue rather than just being a byproduct of being an adult). It prevents me from just getting absorbed in a game for hours on end, day after day, in a way that never used to be a problem.

It’s like there is a constant voice in my head saying, “You can’t just sit here like this,” even when, frankly, I could because I have the time. It almost feels like adult self is constantly berating me with it being a waste of time (even though rational self can say, “Fuck off, I’ll do what I want”).

Adrenaline vs dopamine sir.

It is all about brain chemistry.

Adrenaline is instant and so much fun. Dopamine comes with accomplishment = work. I’d prefer to save work for accomplishments that better myself. Gaining max level or gearing up in WOW is an illusion.

Video games are an art form and so much fun. The dopamine side of that can be dangerous though. As we get older, we recognize that. Still, the art form is awesome. VR flying is a huge advancement. Try it!

I think you might be on to something. I’ve been seeing really good results in the gym lately and at the same time my gaming time dropped sharply. I’ve gained increased focus for all non-gaming related activities but I’m having issues sitting down and playing anything for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.

This a million percent.

@SlyFrog. I feeel that way as well and am in same boat.

However in some irony, we are without power for extended period of time forced to stay with my parents and I am missing my gaming terribly (though if I could do some physically work around here it would help, but can’t due to being post-op).

I’m like this too! A game doesn’t have to be 100 hours to be fun. In fact, these days, I don’t have the time for games like these anymore. My own design principles have turned towards 3-5 hour games in general (for $2-5 mind you), and i’m fine with it. 50+ hours of grinding isn’t fun to me, and i’ll bet it isn’t to many others either.

Of course, I get dinged in reviews for game length anyway, so… oh well.

10-20 hours is my sweet spot these days. That already can take me 3-4 weeks depending on how busy I am with other stuff. I beat Witcher 2 in ~36 hours but that was almost 2 months of only playing that iirc.

I always look up how long to beat on a game before playing it, and if it’s over 20 hours I do some searching to make sure it’s worth my time. That’s one reason I haven’t started Witcher 3 despite owning it for years, it requires a huge commitment to do a 100 hour game, even if it’s legitimately worth it.

I started Shadow of War which thankfully made it clear right at the beginning how grindy it was trying to be (even after all the loot changes) and noped out of there real quick.

Even after the final patch that changed all the stuff with the definitive edition?

Yeah. I don’t know what changed (since I only played post patch) but the game telegraphed very early on that the game loop was less focused on exploration like the first one and very focused on grinding commanders to grind for gear. At least that is heavily implied by the first 2-3 hours of gameplay I played (after progressing past the starter zone).

I think another factor at play here is the sheer amount of games available. I imagine most of the people on this forum have hundreds upon hundreds of games to choose from, and I’m sure many have hundreds upon hundreds that they own but haven’t even played yet. Instead of this being a great thing that increases enjoyment, I think it has the opposite effect.

One of the reasons for this is the aforementioned time investment. When you have a limitless supply of games, you’re less likely to forgive minor flaws or work through any kind of adversity. But as previously mentioned, working through that adversity and putting effort into your victory is what brings the most joy. Maybe it’s just me, but flying through a paint-by-the-numbers, everybody-gets-a-medal casual game may be a relaxing, carefree way to pass the time, but it can never compete with the kind of experience beating a Witcher 3, Deus Ex, et cetera brings to the table.

The other issue I’ve found is just paralysis by analysis. I currently have like 75 games installed. There have been many cases when I’ve told myself alright I’ve got 30 minutes to play a game and by the time I actually decided on what to play, my free time had disappeared.

Great thread. I’m at a stage where work is extremely stressful and I feel burnt out at the end of the day. Just thinking of gaming does feel like work to me, so a lot of times I find myself just playing really casual type of games - Spelunky comes to mind. It’s a game that I’m good at and yet it challenge me and it is usually over in an hour or less. And I play this game using a controller, so I’m just laying back and relaxing.

On the other hand, if I think of starting Witcher 3 or Division 2, my mind just start asking me to not click those icons as it implies more of my attention needed to focus on the game. And I need to be in a sit up position, playing with keyboard and mouse and that already implied a “working desk-like position” …

I think if I have a less stressful jobs just as before, and I’ll probably have more energy and interest in these more complex and realistic games.

This here is true as well.

You are my gaming spiritual guru.

I am in the same position as @habibi with respect to stress and burnout due to work. Some stress is good, but when it manifests into excessive pressure to perform perfectly at all times, then it becomes a problem. To that end, I get home at the end of the day and feel exhausted, the toxicity continuing to drag me down. I think about playing games and that is pretty much the extent of what happens. I find myself browsing YouTube videos, scrolling endlessly down Reddit and of course, reading here on the forums and contributing less and less to the discussion. Heck, even writing this post I haven’t quite decided yet if I’ll hit cancel and not add anything. I have thought about this problem a lot though, and I’ve devised multiple strategies to try and get back into the saddle.

  1. My first problem is the initial learning stages of a game. I can not think of the number of times I’ve tried to learn Hearts of Iron IV now, but I get so far, feel like I’m going nowhere and switch it off. Stellaris is of a similar scope since the big changes. I tried a new game since MegaCorp DLC, and suddenly I’m questioning what I’m doing. It is like there is a wall of fatigue, a sort of fogginess that new information can not penetrate. And because there is nothing sinking in, I lose interest and attention and move on.

  2. Time and not having enough time to devote to games. Life seems to be full of distractions these days. Once upon a time, I could sit alone in a motel room or apartment and do a marathon gaming session lasting hours, pausing only for food and toilet breaks. That was the strength of my concentration. These days, I have a phone that likes to buzz because someone wants to chat with me. Much as I’ve distanced myself from social media or ignore my phone, the nagging thoughts continue to intrude of who wants a piece of me now? Or the guilt - here I am spending time gaming when I could be outside doing exercise. Oh look, I really should water those plants, maybe clean the window that the stupid bird keeps on pecking at. Intruding, distracting thoughts that take me away from the game.

  3. Too many choices with games. Analysis paralysis. That psychology where too much choice is a bad thing. On top of that, I guess similar to the idea of distracting thoughts is the thought process of if I play game X, then why aren’t I playing game Y? But I’ll continue to play game X, thinking about game Y. And worse of all is that I’ll reach a point, after weeks normally, where I’ll finally play game Y and have no idea what I was doing, so I restart game Y all over again and rehash shit I’ve already done. I’ve restarted Pillars of Eternity 4 times now, each time only going so far as the castle before I stop. To think I’ve barely even scratched the content of that game, yet I end up getting distracted.

  4. Perfectionism? Something like that. I look at a game, and it can feel overwhelming eventually because I have this idea of where I want the game to be in my head, but getting there doesn’t happen. YouTube for instance can inspire me with a game like Cities:Skyline, making this beautiful creation, and as I’m drawing out roads, building nice canals and creating a thriving city, I scroll out and think “yep, that’s pretty ugly.” The idea of doing over my city then bothers me and I quit. Given the talk recently with Age of Wonders 3, I wanted to create a game following my tried and tested way of 1 v 3 v 3, themed along myself as a Dreadnought fighting against magic (sorcerer) and nature (arch druid) classes of AIs. Sounds fun, I load into it, didn’t feel happy with the start, and quit out. Do the same thing with games like Civ where the start location has to jive with me. And if it doesn’t, restart map. AoW3 makes that harder.

I adopted one strategy last year to remedy my gaming problem by setting achievable achievements I guess you can say. I’d use in game achievements to narrow my focus with gaming and try and bring some focus back to my life again. I started off with Just Cause 2 - I wanted to 100% complete the achievements for that game. I scaled back from 100% completing the game as that wasn’t really practical. But I put myself in a position where I looked to the Perfectionist achievement (reach 75% completion) and said “yep I can do that.” And I did. And I had fun. It helps that JC2 was a game where I could chill and kill. I’ve tried to adopt this approach in other ways over time, but haven’t been quite as successful.

There are some fundamental broken parts in my brain these days and I think my gaming time is the victim of all that. Maybe, fingers crossed when I start down a new career path, things will become more manageable.

That’s why Nintendo games are great, they feel like real games and not work, mario kart, tennis, super mario etc

My burnout with games is a combination of this, and my competitive drive, which is being frustrated by age and just an inability to react/think as quickly as I used to. It’s very frustrating.

I feel like I can’t enjoy anything anymore.