Metacognition: Burnout

We’re back with our “thinking about thinking” series! If you’re interested in our previous deep thoughts, check out the Metacognition series.  Join us for some deep thoughts (and maybe the occasional not-so-deep thought) about gaming. If you find one you’d like to answer, you can either comment below or write a post and share the link so we can all read your fantastic thoughts!

Have you ever become burned out on a game/genre? What do/did you do?

Yes, on game more than genre.

First, let’s take a look at what burnout actually is, because it’s a real thing with real symptoms.

A Definition

Burnout is a set of physical and emotional symptoms resulting from prolonged and extreme stress. It can manifest as feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet demands, and may cause you to lose enjoyment in the activity that caused the burnout.

Image result for sad video game

Unlike depression, burnout has a definite beginning, and can usually be traced back to a particular activity that you have been partaking in for a while. It is rarely associated with a general feeling of hopelessness and low energy. Burnout is specific, although it can be comorbid with depression.

In the Case of Games…

This might seem strange that a hobby could cause burnout, but really, a person can become “burned out” with any activity, even if they don’t wind up suffering from an all-encompassing Burn Out. But how can you know if you are burned out on a genre, or are just not enjoying a game anymore?

Image result for sad video game

The difference between not liking a game and experiencing burnout would be that in the case of a single-game effect, the thought of playing a similar game is palatable. In the case of genre burn-out, it’s the thought of any game in the genre causes a negative reaction, or feelings of annoyance or resentfulness while playing.

Usually my burnout occurs for a specific game, and it usually happens if I feel like the “cost of admission” is too high for what I’m receiving vs. what I wanted to receive. As an example, I take my recent abandonment of Witcher 3I wanted story and I was getting sidequests. For hours. I started booting up the console with a sigh. And the decision to put it aside came with a sigh of relief.

I compare this to my Mass Effect: Andromeda playthrough, which had a break in the middle. In this instance, I didn’t love my time with it, but it felt more like like an intellectual burden that I couldn’t handle, not an annoying thing that I had to do.

Mass Effect™: Andromeda_20170528235431
Sometimes your face is tired, sometimes your brain is tired.

But, picking up Knights of the Old Republic was exciting, even though I eventually decided to put it on hold while I switched to the console version, and that is proving just as RPG-ish as any RPG, so to me it’s clear it wasn’t the genre I suddenly couldn’t face.

But even if it was, that’s okay. Burnout isn’t a death sentence for a hobby/event. It just means you need to take a little bit of a break, and come back with fresh eyes, so to speak.

Have you ever burned out on a game? A genre? Gaming in general? What did you do? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
~Athena

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9 comments

  1. I kinda started getting it with Overwatch due to two issues. One being that the toxicity tended to ruin my enjoyment of the team games, and the other being that that leaves very little to do other than deathmatch and duel. If there were a competitive deathmatch that might improve simply due to challenge though. As to what I do…I take a break for a week or so then go back to it. That usually gives me a chance to refresh.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Repetition is definitely part of it, especially when sticking primarily to one mode with a limited number of maps. It’s sticks because I love the look and feel of the game, but there’s only so many times I can do the same thing over and over

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  2. I get burned out quickly on anything multiplayer-centric, simply because playing the same objectives on the same levels gets a bit tiresome for me; I don’t understand the appeal of doing the same thing day in, day out; I like progression, seeing new things, advancing a story. This includes both competitive and cooperative games.

    Oddly enough, I rarely feel that same sense of burnout in an inherently repetitive kind of game such as an RPG, perhaps because my experience is less dependent on other people and I can move on at my own pace; usually, the decision to grind in an RPG is mine, and at any point I could advance the story or go do something else.

    Thinking more broadly, I think I became burned out on any kind of game that just kind of goes on forever. I like a definite “ending” and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it, so I tend to avoid things that just continue indefinitely. This isn’t to say I haven’t had fun with them over the years — I enjoyed Minecraft for a while — but I’d much rather play something with a traditional narrative structure, as that’s the sort of thing I personally find most satisfying.

    The other thing I became burned out on that I used to like is “art games”. I used to be really impressed by indie games that attempted to allegorically or symbolically explore themes that you didn’t typically see in the medium, but that’s a “genre” (of sorts) that I don’t feel has advanced all that much, and certain aspects have almost become cliched at this point. Since Gone Home, I’ve lost count of the number of “hey, look at this creepy horror gaSURPRISE IT’S ACTUALLY ABOUT BEING GAY” games there have been, and it’s lost its impact a bit.

    It’s great that we’re getting interactive stories about groups who have traditionally been underrepresented in media, but it’s time devs found some different ways to tell those stories if they want to keep broader interest. (And for the media to acknowledge the games out there that *are* telling these stories in different ways already… but that’s a whole other discussion!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you mean about RPGs, and I think you’re right that there is something about it being on your terms that makes it more bearable. I think that was one of my reasons with Witcher 3…. I got the feeling that I *had* to sidequest, not that I particularly wanted to because it seemed fun or interesting.

      And you would know about the indie scene better than me! I am only aware of Gone Home with that theme, but I guess there are a lot of those types of games?? I can see how that becomes tiring after a (short) while… You make a good point about the way we tell stories and about whom in order to prime the stories for the impact they may deserve.

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  3. For me it is generally a game. Xenoblade Chronicles was the last one I got burned out on and I’ve put it aside for the last year. I want to go back to say I finished it but I’m also not rushing to do so because my last run with it was burnout. 50+ hours with something can do that though I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really?? I’ve heard nothing but good things about Xenoblade Chronicles! I haven’t played it personally, but I imagine there is a lot of grind in it (either literally or figuratively). But you have a point about the longer games being at a greater risk for inducing burnout. Unless handled carefully, there is only “so much” a gamer can do before it gets really super repetitive.

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  4. Gosh, I think I’m burned out on A LOT of things besides games, haha. For games, I’m done with MMOs. After 8 years of WoW, I got tired of the model and I have no desire to ever go back to that genre. I also put games down a lot lately because of general lack of interest. Even though I like playing them I just don’t feel like it (if that makes any sense). I’ve shelved the masterpiece Chrono Trigger (blasphemy, I know. May a mob of 100 retro JRPG fans strike me down), BoTW, Witcher 3… I’m currently picking away at Fallout 4 which is somewhat enjoyable but still kinda meh.

    I think I may be burned out on video games (and blogging about video games/social media) as a whole. Now I’m enjoying reading novels as nice quiet offline activity. Doing other things definitely helps recover from being burned out on something.

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