Recently, I ranked all of the games that I have played in the first half of 2019. Now that I’ve done this, it’s time to make some larger reflections on how the year has gone, as well as set a few goals for myself that will guide the rest of my year. While creating my list, I noticed a few trends that I want to get on top of in order to set myself up for success in the remainder of 2019. Here are a few of my key takeaways:
It’s Okay to Revisit Old Loves and Take Time to Smell the Roses
I love to write about games and own a mountainous backlog that threatens to overwhelm me at any moment, so I feel this overwhelming sense of guilt whenever I start up an old favorite again instead of tackling something new. 2019 is the year that I am trying to break myself of this habit. Sometimes, I want to replay games, whether to try a harder difficulty or simply to visit some characters and stories I love, and that’s okay. In the remainder of the year, I may not play a lot of new titles because of how much I have been enjoying my recent obsession trying old favorites on their hardest difficulty, but I’m not going to let this bother me anymore. When I’m excited about a new game, I’ll give it a shot, but there’s no reason to force myself through experiences that I’m not in the mood for, as it will just make me have a negative impression of that title.
In a similar vein, I need to stop feeling like the number of games I can beat in a year defines me as a person. As soon as the credits roll, I feel this urge to immediately move onto the next title or I’m wasting my time. Again, why do I feel this way? I should spend exactly as much time as it takes for me to feel like I have completed the game to my own satisfaction. For example, I’m currently playing Diablo III for the first time, and my initial plan was to move through the campaign and stop right after. As I got into the title more, however, I realized that I was far more interested in taking my time, running through some randomly-generated dungeons, and optimizing my gear to become as strong as possible. The hours that I’m spending on character optimization in Diablo is certainly taking up time that could have been spent on other games, but who cares? As long as I’m enjoying my time, I should allow myself to play however I choose.
Learn When to Let Go
Once I have started a game and gotten more than a few hours in, I really hate to stop playing it, even when I am thoroughly not enjoying it. Unfortunately, that leads to circumstances where I may play a title that I utterly despise for so long that I feel drained at the end of the experience and proceed to not touch my consoles for months. Sometimes, for any number of reasons beyond simply disliking the title, it’s better to just put a game down and acknowledge that this isn’t the right time to play it. I started playing Celeste earlier this year and put hours into it because I felt determined to see this journey through. Ultimately, however, I decided that my platforming skills were simply not at a sufficient level to beat this game and I am better off putting it to the side for a while until a time where I feel more confident in my abilities.
Learning when it’s time to call it quits on a game is doubly important now that I like to grab games off of Game Pass. The service allows me so much freedom to try out titles that I may not have picked up independently, but that also comes with a layer of concern that I may become overwhelmed by mediocre experiences that I feel compelled to finish because I got so far in them. I don’t owe it to anyone to finish a game that I’m not thoroughly enjoying, and it’s not productive for me to roll credits just so I can add another title to my list of completions for the year. Until it sinks in my brain, I’ll just keep repeating this to myself.
Expand My Horizons
One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that I don’t always know my gaming tastes as well as I think I do. Sometimes, I get really excited by games and they turn out to be disappointments, like Persona 5, and other times, I fall in love with something I wasn’t expecting to enjoy at all, like Ori and the Blind Forest. That’s why I want to continue my efforts to always try experiences that may fall outside of my comfort zone, because while some of these trials may completely flop, I may discover a new favorite genre. If I hadn’t played Assassin’s Creed II, would I have ever put it together that stealth in video games can sometimes feel like a big puzzle that’s begging to be cracked? No, and I would have instead spent the rest of my life assuming that I didn’t like stealth games because I had a bad introduction to it in that one terrible mission in Uncharted 2.
While I’m trying to avoid the mention of specific titles because I want to make sure that my time is open to playing whatever sounds best at a given moment, there are a few genres that I have my eye on for the second half of 2019. First of all, I have recently discovered that I like both point-and-clicks and metroidvanias much more than I thought I did, so I would like to play as many of them as I can get my hands on. Beyond that, I really don’t have a lot of experience with titles made before the PS3 era, as that was the first generation when I was old enough to make informed decisions about what sorts of titles I enjoyed playing, so I would love to try my hand at some retro adventures and see what I think.
Most Importantly: Have Fun
One of the biggest issues that I have had with 2019 is that I haven’t had as much fun gaming as I usually do. A lot of it stems from forcing myself through The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt when I wasn’t getting a ton of enjoyment from it. While I’m glad that I finally worked my way through it and don’t necessarily regret playing it to completion, I probably should have played it much more slowly instead of trying to brute force my way through in order to wash my hands of it forever. Going slowly through it over a period of months probably would have resulted in me enjoying the game more, as well as feeling better about the first half of my year overall. Regardless, since I can’t go back in time and fix my past mistakes, the best I can do is avoid repeating them.
While I have given some general guidelines for how I should play my games for the remainder of the year, the overarching theme is that I want to have fun when I play. The list of how many games I played in a given year is supposed to be a fun ranking, not a competition for myself, and I need to treat it that way. How many games I play doesn’t matter nearly as much as how much fun I am having as I play them. From now on, I’m going to try and remember that as I inevitably work my way through Final Fantasy X for the 800th time instead of playing something new. Gaming is a relaxing hobby, and if it’s causing me stress, then it’s on me to change how I play.
Have you ever struggled with the pressure to play games in a certain way? Let me know in the comments below!
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