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A case of gamers’ block

Writers’ block: a phrase that sends shivers down a blogger’s spine. The most excruciating and demotivating points during this hobby can be those times when you stare at a blank page for what seems like hours, knowing you really need to have something ready for the following day but just don’t know what to write.

But for gaming bloggers there’s also the fear of gamers’ block. Have you ever had those situations when you look forward to getting home after work because you know you have a spare hour or two, but as soon as you sit down and pick up the controller you can’t find anything you actually want to play? You look at your physical collection upon the shelf, trawl through the library on your PC, even check out what’s installed on your consoles – and absolutely nothing appeals.

This is what I’ve been suffering from for the past month or so and nothing has been grabbing my attention. There are titles that have spent over a year languishing in my backlog along with a couple of physical releases I haven’t yet opened, but I’m not motivated to start them. Although the Steam summer sale added five new games to my list recently, they were smaller ones that I managed to finish within a couple of weeks and I quickly returned to the position of feeling as though there was nothing I wanted to play.

People say you need to take a break from any hobby every now and again so you can come back to it later with renewed enthusiasm. But I’m not sure this is the right solution for me: I still feel that familiar desire to jump into video games and don’t believe I’m losing my passion for them. They still inspire me to write even now… I just can’t seem to find a release that gets my fires burning, that’s all. The last time I remember feeling that way was in Eastshade over four months ago.

Maybe my current situation has something to do with having too much choice. You know what it’s like when you turn on Netflix: you spend your evening trying to decide what to watch rather than watching anything at all. My post in July about game passes mentioned research which showed having too many options was bad thing as we lose our decision-making powers after around 12. Perhaps there are so many games out there that I’m not sure where to start.

I think limited spare time is also a cause though. The less free hours I have, the more I don’t want to spend them searching for a title instead of actually playing one, so I’ve developed a trend of resorting to The Elder Scrolls Online recently. It’s like junk-food that’s far too tempting. It’s so easy to pick up and being in its world is comforting; it’s familiar, I don’t have to try too hard in terms of gameplay, and I know I can usually manage to fit a quest into the time I have available before sleep.

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But it’s no longer a challenge or hides any surprises, and I miss that aspect of gaming. I want something unexpected that’s going to catch me off-guard, transport me to somewhere I’ve never been before and show me things that leave me speechless. Forget your bland first-person shooters, boring battle-royale modes and new releases that don’t live up to the promotional material: give me something different that has an impact on those who play it.

I’m turning to you for advice, dear reader. What do you do when you get a case of gamers’ block? Are there any titles which have pulled you out of its demotivating grasp? Please do let me know because I’m not sure how many more nights I can spend fishing in Auridon.

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

30 thoughts on “A case of gamers’ block Leave a comment

  1. I have to admit that I’ve been on a bit of a retro kick this year. I’ve played very few new releases, instead going back to things. Maybe try that, or play one of those games that everyone says is a classic… 🤔

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    • What, like Resident Evil maybe? 😉

      I’ve been playing a few games on the PlayStation 2 since writing this post which has been enjoyable, but I kind of wish there was something new I could get excited about. All the releases coming out right now just aren’t grabbing my attention…

      Liked by 1 person

      • … it is a classic! 😛

        I’m sure someone will correct me, but I agree that it feels like it’s been a slow year for new releases. The only thing that’s kind of new on my radar is Wolfenstein: young blood.

        … One thing that I get is like a ‘genre’ fatigue. I find mixing up the genre is a pretty good trick to finding something I want to settle on to. Weirdly it’s ‘builders’ take often seem to break the funk. I particularly seem to go through patches of playing Cities Skylines… There’s just something very relaxing about it…

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        • I found Coloring Pixels recently (which pretty much consists of exactly that) and I’ve been playing a lot of it. I really do need to stop and find something else though because it’s turning my eyes square!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I get this sometimes, but it’s never because I don’t want to play anything. I often find it’s because of irrational assumptions that I make about the things I have on my “to-play” list, and those assumptions inevitably turn out to be incorrect.

    Most recent case was a visual novel I got a review copy of; despite nothing about it indicating that it would be in any way “hard going” (it’s a comedic romance story with absolutely lovely art) I still had a certain amount of resistance in my mind over starting it.

    This, naturally, immediately went away once I slapped those thoughts aside and decided to give it a go anyway. Now I’m hooked. Watch out for a writeup soon.

    I feel this sort of mental behaviour is probably anxiety-related, as the “analysis paralysis” I feel is remarkably similar to that which I feel when there’s something I know that I need to do, but which I’m nervous about — usually making a phone call or having to have a difficult conversation with someone. I’ll spend ages thinking about it, contemplating the possible outcomes… before realising that I’ve wasted a whole ton of time and should have probably just got it over with.

    Sometimes you have to be strict with yourself and say “look, just PLAY something, at this point it doesn’t even matter what!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re totally right… I have had those evenings where I’ve spent so long trying to decide what to play that it’s then become too late to play anything at all. I think I might need to take a leaf out of your book and play *something* so at least I’m getting to spend time with my hobby.

      I just can’t seem to find anything new to get excited about right now. It’s been a bit of a weird year for gaming for me; there haven’t been many upcoming releases I’ve been enthusiastic for, and nothing has really jumped out at expos.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m kind of in this situation right now. I don’t feel like concentrating on any particular game for any length of time. I’m fine to log in and do a few dailies but I’m not really in the mood to hang around.

    Conversely I have a huge drive to blog. Part of the reason I’m not playing is that while I do play I’m thinking about writing and how I’d rather be doing that. Which is a bit of a problem for an MMORPG blogger. The upshot is that I’ve started to blog about other things instead.

    I think this would all change pretty quickly if I got invested in a new game or if one of the ones I already play dropped some major content that caught my attention.

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    • Yes, I feel exactly the same! At the moment I’m literally drowning in ESO (I’m spending far too much time fishing because it’s easy) but can’t seem to work up the motivation to play anything else.

      I just need something new to come along and grab my attention. You know when you get a new game, and all you want to do is go home and play it every night – I miss that.

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  4. Girlfriend: “I have nothing to wear!”
    Me, with literally a thousand games in my Steam library: “I have nothing to play! :-(”

    If I’m not sure what to play, then I’ll use a neat little trick. I take a random number generator and let him decide what to play. Then I’ll install and start playing. Either the game gets me hooked (success!) or I think “Meh, I’d rather play X other game”, in which case I go and play that one (success, too!) When I really can’t motivate me for a specific game, then I’ll just play something very short, with a playtime of about 2-3 hours, mostly Hidden-Object-Adventures, they’re perfect for getting your head free.

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    • Oh that’s a good idea… I’d never considered using a random number generator before, and that be just what I need to give me a kickstart.

      Hold on… you’ve just given me a great idea for our charity stream next year – you’re awesome! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This definitely hits me too! I usually try to remedy it by picking up an old favorite, or going to a used game store and seeing if anything strikes my fancy.

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    • Oh that’s a good idea… I might see if my stepson fancies a trip into town this weekend to see if we can find some games. Not that that will take much persuasion at all. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate to this really well. Although, I’m actually one of those people who ends up taking a break from the hobby and doing something else, like reading or watching Netflix. But then the pitfall is you don’t really start playing any video games at all when the desire is still there. I’ve now taken to just playing the first title that catches my eye in the moment. That’s mostly been Tomb Raider, Smash Bros., and Yoshi’s Crafted World. It has kept me playing something at least, but being gamers blocked is really tough to be in with no solid right or wrong way to approach it.

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    • The first game that catches my eye… yes, there’s a definite possibility I’m analysing what to play next far too much. Maybe I should be a bit more spontaneous and load up the first thing that catches my attention. 🤔

      Sometimes the hardest thing about gamers’ block is knowing you have games’ block! You spend so long worrying about it and how to fix it, you’re wasting time you could be using for playing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for being my first follower Kim 🙂 You can also find me on Facebook. I’m very new at all this but I’ve always wanted to do something with video games so this is my first step in to it.

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  8. *puts hand up*

    Been here. Generally not too seriously, but there have been a time or two in my past where it’s started to drag out to such a length that I began to wonder if my favourite hobby was… Well, no longer.

    Clearly that wasn’t the case. Since, you know, hullo! ;D

    I found one thing that was super helpful to me was to dramatically change up how I approached games for a little bit. For example; unlike Phil it sounds like, I’m generally speaking not a Trophy/Achievement hunter. I love that they’re ingames, but I am typically perfectly quite content to put something down without 100%ing it. (Or coming even close)

    What I found as a compromise though to spark energy again was to look at a game I knew I enjoyed, and sort out what some of the rare achievements that I might actually be able to do are. And then pick one or two of those to aim for.

    The most memorable instance of this for me was Torchlight 1 (while waiting for 2 to come out, incidentally) — there are a couple of speedrun achieves, to kill the final boss within 5 hours for one of them, 7 hours for another. There was also a hardcore (permadeath) version of these achieves. I was pretty confident I could hit at least the 7 hour normal and hardcore achieves in one run on easy.

    So I did a bit of research into good speed run classes and builds (not too much mind, just enough to cement an idea) and then went for it over the course of a few play sessions. The attempt itself was invigorating and reminded me what I loved about gaming. It didn’t even matter that I failed the first run (got waaaay overconfident on the last boss itself and went for the finishing blow when I should’ve chugged another potion) — I was invested again and went for it a second time and got the achieves. Achieves that lasted in my Steam showcase as rarest achieves earned for quite some time, I think the 5 hour HC run achieve was ~0.8% achieved when I got it. 🙂

    So that’s one way. The other way I’ve found is simply to shift up hugely the genre I was playing. I played the craaaapp out of RPGs (and oft still do). But shifting it up for a racing game, or a strategy game, or something else even for a little can help break out of the funk as well.

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    • Torchlight… now there’s a blast from the past. I haven’t played that game in years so it might be a good one to pick up for a bit of nostalgia!

      Adventure is my go-to genre because I love a good story, but there haven’t been many stand-out ones this year so far sadly. It’s like going round in circles: I don’t enjoy a release, think to myself that there must be at least *one* new adventure out there that will impact me, pick up a new game and go through the process all over again. A few people have said here that switching up genre can be a good thing so I’ll definitely give that a go. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hah. Unfortunately I didn’t find Torchlight to have aged very well. I mean it’s fine from a visual style perspective — that more cartoony look always ages better.

        But just mechanically and how it handles is a far cry from a modern ARPG experience and at minimum takes some readjusting to. Not to say it wouldn’t be possible, just… not for me. 😉

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        • Ah I know what you mean! I recently played Syberia on the PlayStation 2 because that was the first platform I played it on and I wanted to experience it in the same way again. Totally the wrong decision: I should have remembered that point-and-clicks are horrible with a controller.

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