Difficulties In Deciding What To Play

My partner does this thing that drives me crazy. On a regular basis he’ll reel off a long list of games and ask for advice on what to play, only I think he’s searching for a perfect answer that I cannot give. Through his indecision he’ll attempt to play several at once, but in doing so make very little progress on any of them. I on the other hand prefer to focus on one game at a time. Although sticking to one game is more of a personal preference because I find that trying to take in too much breaks my engagement, and I look forward to going back to what I was doing. I don’t often have trouble deciding what to play next as I’ll have ideas while getting through the current one. Moving on can then be quite exciting. The only time I feel a bit unsettled is if a game I’m really enjoying ends too quickly before I’m ready to move on.

I think a part of the problem is that once you become an adult you have less time and more responsibilities, and so picking exactly the right game feels important. As I’ve gotten older this has resulted in a slight change in my gaming tastes and I now prefer quality over quantity. I find it a bit daunting starting longer open world games for instance. Although I also find that I have more patience to complete games, but will spend less time working on optional content like earning trophies. Worrying too much about whether we are doing the right thing can cause us to put off starting. Over-thinking a decision can be a form of procrastination in and of itself, which is actually counter-intuitive in regards to how much gaming time we get. Perhaps it’d be better just to chuck a game on and if it doesn’t take within the first few minutes, try something else. More often than not I find that I can become engaged with almost anything after I’ve started.

I think another issue is that we have a lot more choice than we use to. As a kid I could only get a few new games a year, but I really appreciated them. When I got a new game I’d rush home and instantly start playing it. My enjoyment of that game could last for months and I’d return to it several times. Nowadays I have hundreds in my backlog, which you’d think would be a gamers delight, but more choice isn’t always a good thing. I seem to remember reading in a psychology book somewhere that we can only handle so many choices at a time. Getting a new game is no longer such a thrill and it takes a lot more to impress me. Unless it’s a game that I’m really excited about, I’m far more patient to wait for them to come down in price as I know I’ve got others to play. What the new game is offering might be similar to something I already have in my library anyway. It’s another reason for why I prefer to take on one game at a time, because to think about completing the entire growing collection is not only daunting but probably close to impossible.

My partner will say things like, ‘I should play this one, but I feel like this one,’ to which I respond to go with the one he fancies the most. I don’t think ‘should‘ is the right word to use; Games are enjoyable because we choose to play them, not because we feel like we have to. For example, I’m not keen on gimmicks like temporary EXP bonuses in online games because it starts to feel like a chore; I talk about the game as something I should be doing – rather than wanting to do – before the time runs out. It seems to me that by over thinking the decision on what to play we might have lost sight of what a game is for. Unlike work, play has some spontaneity to it.

Difficult decisions only exist when there is no clear right answer and all of the options are equally good/bad. We try to weigh things up to find the clear winner, but not everything is comparable (games from different genres for example.) What we finally decide to settle on is more to do with who we are than the options themselves. If we look deep down we might be able to figure out what we’re most in the mood for, but if not we could probably pick any option to see if it takes. I do sometimes consider release dates that might interfere with a lengthy game, although it doesn’t really matter if we never complete one or spend much time on it, so long as we get what we wanted from it – in my case fun and chill-out time. If we don’t seem to be taking to any game however, perhaps that’s just a sign that we need a short break from playing. It’s possible to feel fatigued from any activity no matter how much we enjoy it, but the urge will return eventually, and all the stronger for it.


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About wallcat

I have a strong passion for computing. In particular programming for which I am able to use a variety of languages including C++, Visual C#, Blitz Basic, Actionscript 2.0, Python and Lua. I also enjoy web-design and have some knowledge of HTML/CSS, PHP/SQL and Javascript. As well as programming I have a strong background in art and enjoy drawing in my spare time. When I’m not sat at my computer I like to keep fit by going to the gym or using my exercise ball.

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