What did you do when your gaming tastes changed?

I’ve known for a while that I wasn’t deriving the same enjoyment out of gaming staples like I used to. I used to play Civ for weeks (or months) at a time without playing much else. Same with Heroes of Might and Magic. I just can’t do that anymore and for some reason it makes me a bit sad. It isn’t a ‘time’ thing, because I do get quite a bit of playing time when I want it now that my son is in school. I’m a bit surprised how it makes me feel acknowledging this has happened. I know this isn’t a big problem to have, but it really is having an effect on me. It was driven home today when I was playing Disciples 3: Reincarnation. They seemed to have cleaned up Disciples 3 in this version of it and it is a good HOMM type game, but before I finished the first scenario I was hoping it would just freakin end already. The thought of sinking the time into clearing the next map is a little daunting and I’m not sure I can do it. The game itself if fine, but man I just don’t have the patience to do the same things over and over.

Did you have a moment like this? When was it and what did you do?

I’m 44 years old.

Not that specifically, no. I loved Civ 1 when it first came out, and I continue to enjoy similar games. Warlock most recently, for example. I’m 48, so it’s not necessarily about being 40ish.

However, from my early teens to early twenties I was heavily into coin-op arcade games. Battle Zone, Time Pilot, Moon Patrol, Star Castle, etc. I don’t enjoy those at all anymore. What I “did” was stop playing those games.

I think it’s the imagination gap. If you look at what appeals to young people it’s often quite shallow and repetitive because what kids have in abundance is time, but to them everything is fresh and they allow their imaginations to paper over the oftentimes nonsensical plots or relatively unsophisticated gameplay. On the other end of the spectrum are the grodnardy wargamers, whose imaginations have atrophied to the point where all they’re interested in is essentially an exact simulation of historic things and events.

As you age i believe it’s natural to lose interest in games where your imagination could paper over doing repetitive tasks, or tasks which you’ve done a dozen times before in other games, and which is no longer stimulating. You can stretch this rule pretty wide in scope - i mean, i liked playing Mario Bros, Contra, and Phantasy Star-like games as a kid, and i’m not going to spend precious gaming hours on games like that now, and it seems inevitable that games i like now will start to phase out eventually as well. Until you enter your dotage and have forgotten all the games you played as a child and can rediscover them all over again.

Yeah, I did and I just switched genres to something that had more appeal to me. Like you, one of my ‘go-to’ genres was strategy games and I think I was interested in the problem solving aspect of them. At some point, it just dawned on me that playing them was kind of pointless since the devs wanted me to solve the problem, and because i was good at it, it was inevitable that i would…so why waste the time proving that I could do what I know I could? To some extent, I also got tired of solving problems that were either rudimentary (and put there as ‘filler’) or otherwise basic and non-challenging. Keep in mind that some of the genres (strategy games and rpgs, i’m looking at you) have not evolved much in the past 20 years or so and the basic tenets of the gameplay(ie, leveling) are terribly rote, not to mention that the promise of ‘better and more challenging AI’ almost always gets shelved for ‘more shiny’ graphics.

For me, i resolved it by going online and looking for competitive challenges and spreading that interest in a variety of ways. If the developers were not going to build the challenging world for me, i’d find it online in games like world of tanks and bf4, minecraft and dayz, dominions 3(and 4!) and even single players games could suit, like the broad open world of STALKER or the artistically stimulated Dishonored.

Speaking of D3 Reincarnation, did you find the AI will not attack your capital? I played one skirmish game and despite the fact the AI controlled the entire map with overwhelming force it would not eliminate me from the game by attacking my capital. I stopped playing in disgust.

I’ve only played the campaign, and there really hasn’t been the opportunity for the AI to attack me yet.

This is the same thing that happens to you with any kind of stimulus. The pathways in your brain trigger chemical reactions, your brain becomes less and less affected by the same stimulus. It’s the same thing that happens with drugs from a chemical point of view.

It’s why people get ‘burnt out’ on things, and then go back to them after a period of time, and get a renewed interest, because the chemical reactions are pleasing again.

Games, music, movies, Tv, are really all a form of drug. Games especially have so much power chemically that many people become addicted to certain genres, MMOs are a great example. Because of the relative complexity, there is enough there to keep you going for a pretty good period.

I adapted as well as I could by playing the genres of games that appealed to me. Instead of RPGs, I played strategy titles. Instead of grognard games, I played beer and pretzel games. I read books and watched movies instead of playing PC games.

There are many things to experience in life and gaming is just one of them.

Complain about the “good old days.”

What did I do? I played stuff I felt like playing, that’s what I did.

This isn’t difficult.

I’d say my taste has matured and refined over the years. Boy was i glad when i didn’t have that urge to put 10p in the Space Invaders machine anymore! Boy was i glad when i realised any modern FPS is just Space Invaders (again). Boy was i glad when i realised there is so much more to gaming than just shooting stuff!

I think we are on the dawn of a new Golden Age of gaming, Indies (including KS etc) are going to save my gaming soul, already are, and i just see that type of game getting all my money and attention. Shooting shit is so passé (by about 15 gaming years! ‘Boys’ are slow learners).

I’m 61 and go through the same thing. I think that back when dinosaurs walked the Earth and the hobby was new, every game was a fresh experience, and there was a sense of discovery of what people can do with this marvelous new technology. In an age of sequels and cookie-cutter games, not so much.

That’s why I find the indie development scene so exciting - there’s imagination at work in designing games that you rarely find in AA or AAA titles.

I barely think about my changing tastes now that my appreciation of new genres seems to have accelerated. Maybe a year ago I’d wonder if I was missing out by not playing the latest 4X game, indie darling, or linear shooter – all genres I used to devour. You’ll get over it eventually.

As a counter, I just played Titan Attacks for 3 days straight, and enjoyed every minute of the retro shooting action. Ask me again in a week, though…

Like becoming bored with vanilla Minecraft, discovering variety in the form of mods is good. Join the masses iwth Technic or DW20 packs or encounter eccentric oddities of considerable depth like Terra Firma Craft, Gregtech, and Per Fabrica ad Astra.

Well, part of my “tastes changing” in regards to games has more to do with my time available than anything else. With a family and a full time job, I just don’t have the time to sink hundreds of hours into one game like I would’ve in my teens and early twenties. Civ 5 would’ve had a few hundred hours in it by now if I were twenty again. A good game with 5-6 solid hours of gameplay will probably get played before a game with an open-ended structure unless I hear it’s really extraordinary.

Also, because technology has changed, my gaming tastes have “evolved” to accomodate what devs can do now. A game like Skyrim or Saints Row IV would’ve been less impactful to me in the blank polygon Falcon 2.0 era, even if the memory issues could’ve been overcome on the open-world structure. A Skyrim that looked like Wizardry just wouldn’t appeal to 19-year-old me, whereas my imagination could fill in details for strategy games. I guess the abstract nature of strategy games fit with the real-world equivalents I knew about in boardgaming.

Finally, developers themselves are tackling subjects that just weren’t an option a couple of decades ago. Something like Gone Home, GTA V, or even Tomb Raider would never have been on the shelves.

I have a similar issue. I think it can develop into a problem, where you identify yourself in a certain way and refuse to move on. I think that is what leads (in certain cases) to backlogs, for example. People buy based on the interests they had years ago. They cannot accept that their interests have changed, but they also are no longer as interested in continuing with the same hobby. So you see people with hundred of games, dabbling with them here and there, but never actually getting around to playing them or finishing them. The complaint is often that there is not enough time, but I think (and I’m projecting here, I admit) that it is often enough just not enough interest anymore. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve had, for example, where I really honestly did have 10-12 hours free, but I didn’t really end up playing anything, because I just sit there and pick for a bit at one thing, pick for a bit at another, go watch some television, etc.

I am actually trying to change that for the new year, both with respect to video games and board games. I’m trying to let the objective part of my brain that knows I have more games than I play rule over the emotive part that sees something that is theoretically cool and wants to buy it, even though I rationally know there is a 1% chance I’ll get around to playing any substantial portion of it.

That may have gotten a bit off track, but my point with respect to the specific question asked is this: don’t continue to force something that just isn’t there because you have built a mental identity with it (as opposed to having a true, continuing interest in it).

There is, by the way, another possibility, in particular if you not only have lost interest in this particular hobby, but have lost interest in all/most things. You may be depressed, which is a separate matter.

There is a lot of truth in that. I’m 43, and started gaming as early as I could remember with coin-op, then Atari/Magnavox home systems, then Atari/Commodore home computers, and on into modern PCs and consoles. At each stage of my gaming “lifecycle” there have been seminal moments where I realized something truly wonderful was happening as I played games like Temple of Apshai, Ultima IV, Legend of Zelda, DOOM, Halo, Daggerfall, Everquest, Diablo, Half-Life, LOTRO and others. Yet for every game that renewed my sense of wonder and imagination in regards to the nhobby, there were a dozen that were simply more of the same. Not neccessarily bad games, just games that did much the same thing as others only in a slightly different way with slightly different characters, or stories, or interfaces or structure. As I get older, I’ve experienced more and more of this “sameness”, and it sometimes makes my hobby feel bloated or stagnant, like why should I bother slogging through another game that’s going to be so much like games I’ve played before?

You don’t even have to be “old” to feel this effect. Modern gaming is awash in AAA, second tier and indie titles in damn near every genre. Look at all the games available on Steam (and I’m sure some of you may have most of them in your library at this point…ho hum…), and that’s just PC gaming. Consoles add thousands more titles to the list. It’s a great time to be a gamer, but with all those titles to choose from it may be impossible to have time to be a gamer sometimes. I played the shit out of Ultima IV back in the day. Part of the reason was that I was a teen, and had more time to devote to gaming, but a another big part of it was that Ultima 4 was one of only so many titles available to me at the time. If I’d had hundreds, even thousands of games to choose from, and the means to purchase dozens of them at a time, would I still have had the drive and ambition to pour 200+ hours into Ultima IV?

I just played a skirmish game, normal difficulty and the AI did come and eliminate me. He did pass by several times before coming in, and I repelled him several times, but he finally took my capital. I think the AI is cautious because the guardian defending the capital can be tough to beat, especially when helped out by a garrison.

I think there were a lot of good points made above. In particular the following resonated with me:

  • Reduced imagination. I think that probably applies to me and maybe explains why I used to be able to play a game like Diabolo, and now I’m bored to tears by it. When Diablo was new, it was easy to get lost in the creatures and environment in the game. Discovering new elements was just cool and it was easy to get immersed in it. While I still appreciate a detailed environment, I need more game in it to keep me interested in it.

  • I still put too many hours into games, so I don’t reap the same pleasure from them. I have improved a little in this regard, but I need to find more ways to spend my time. I also have that addictive personality of ‘if a little of something is good, more is even better’. Games, chocolate and sweats, it applies to these. Even when I get into a fitness kick, it’s an all or nothing affair.

  • I definitely have some type of personality quirk that makes it hard for me to break habits and see that it is time to move to something new, instead of repeating what I’ve done in the past. Slyfrog hit it on the head. I ‘see’ myself as a 4x strategy gamer even though they just don’t have the staying power like they used to. Instead of being able to accept the notion that they just don’t have the same effect, I resist it. It’s also what makes it hard to embrace getting a new hobby or interest. Inertia sucks.

  • The abunance of cheap games makes it easier to feel disatisifed with the game I’m currently playing. I have t dabble and try out a new one.

I think there are certain things that I need in a game to really feel engaged in it. A single game may only provide 1 of these things, but if it does it really well the game is a success for me. The two most common things I look for in a game are:

  • I need to feel challenged: I think this is why some actiony games have had a resurgance with me. Even if a strategy game is difficult, it is easier to see behind the curtain and realize how the game is cheating. Also just observing dumb AI behavior can kill the atmosphere even if it still puts up a fight. Games that have scoreboards have a goal to try and beat. Pinball FX2, racing games, etc. I get sucked in trying to shoot for the score of the guy above me. A game like Dark Souls where you feel some accomplishment when you figure out how to beat a new enemy is rewarding.

  • A great story or humor: The Walking Dead. The Witcher 2. Even less serious stories, or stories that make up a small part of the game can really enhance it- Saints Row IV, The Typing of the Dead: Overkill.