Hi! Before we dive into the article, I’d like to introduce myself. I am Lucy, a proud member of Hype Horizen’s Hype Rizing Community Team. I am a graduate student, studying a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health. I am particularly interested in learning more about the relationship between videogames and mental health. So, I hope to come out with helpful articles relating to such. Let’s jump in!
Have you ever loved a game so much that you spent hours playing it every single day? Then find yourself a month, year, or 5 years later despising anything about the game? Maybe even forcing yourself to play the game while waiting for the next update or expansion? Oh… then you still hate the game when it drops *sighs*. Well, my friend, you might be experiencing videogame burnout.
I personally felt this before with Dead by Daylight (DBD). I have been playing DBD for about 5 years now. In the earlier years, I looked past the mediocre graphics and bugs in the game because I enjoyed it and there wasn’t any other game like it. I was empathetic towards BHVR (the developer) by trusting they were doing their best to continuously balance and improve the game. My passion for DBD slowly but surely turned into jaded negativity around 3 years of playing it. I found myself constantly complaining about the game while playing it. I was hypercritical of every aspect of the game. I whined about the “balance” changes they came out with and claimed BHVR was destroying the game I once loved. I found myself in this cycle of playing the game to maintain my “red” rank (comparable to Hearthstone’s “Legend” rank) and holding out for the quarterly DLC release. Once the DLC was released, I was excited again… but only for week. Then, it was right back to scoffing at anything DBD related. I felt stuck. Finally, I was fed up entirely and put the game down for a few months. When I returned, I saw DBD in a new, positive light. I had fun with it again!
What is videogame burnout?
Burnout is characterized by a loss of passion towards what we once loved. The passion is replaced with feelings of irritability and cynicism. The enthusiasm to play is replaced with boredom… the grind becomes an exhausting chore instead of enjoyment. Everyone is different and how burnout is felt within each person will vary. Generally speaking, we probably hate the state of the game and are looking for something better to come along to reignite our passion for it.
Why did this happen?
Quite often, burnout can happen after playing a game excessively or over a long period of time. And sometimes both. Other times, a game is redundant, lacking substance, and is stale. After a while, we’ve explored all there is, so we find ourselves grinding the same quests or stuck with a boring meta we’re all too used to. Then the expansion drops, we play excessively again, and the cycle continues. There may not be anything critically wrong with the game (though sometimes there is), we’re just burnt out. Burnout can also be felt with videogames in general, where we lose motivation and desire to play any videogame.
How do we manage burnout?
So, you and your game (or games) have a love-hate relationship going on right now and you’re just not quite ready to give it all up for good. I have a few tips that might help.
Tip 1 – In games like Hearthstone, where the meta controls how and what we play, off-meta gaming is challenging and not viable if we’re trying to climb. BUT we can think off-meta by focusing on different challenges and giving ourselves something creative to work towards. Maybe this is learning a new class or deck. It could mean focusing on getting all of our classes to 1k wins or picking up a new mode. Think outside of the box.
Tip 2 – But what if all that grinding is the issue? Another tip might be that we need to limit our playtime. We have this routine of launching our game and playing because it’s what we do. Instead of playing 4 hours, we can play an hour then find something else to play. Preferably, a different type of game altogether. If we’re playing Hearthstone, then play a shooter instead. Or play our game every other day. We’ll never feel hungry if we’re constantly stuffing ourselves.
Tip 3 – Our environment influences our perspective and perception. For gamers, our environment is our peers on Discord, Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, etc. If we’re experiencing burnout and feeling negatively towards the game, we are likely gravitating towards people who feel the same. We’re ranting in Twitter posts and YouTube comments. All this is doing is adding fuel to our fire, keeping us in our one-track mindset. So, the next tip would be to step back from all of this. For some, it might mean not engaging in the conversations, finding a positive comment to make, or just staying off the social media altogether. Let our mind clear.
Tip 4 – One thing I often see is that a game, for example Hearthstone, is compared to other games or how the game used to be. Let’s stop doing that. These unrealistic comparisons are only going to keep clouding our perception and lead to further disappointment. Instead, take time to appreciate something positive in the game. We might have to look for it because our mind wants us to automatically go to the negative. At first, it may not seem genuine. But I promise, the more we start to look for the positives and the growth, the more natural and rewarding it will feel. The grass really is greener on the other side.
Tip 5 – If all else fails, it’s probably time for us to just put the game (or all games) away. Find a new hobby to pass the time. Focus on anything but that game (or games) then let that hunger for gaming naturally come back to us.
Playing games is meant to be fun and entertaining. Burnout is quite literally the opposite of that. Believe it or not, our mental health and daily life is impacted by the burnout we feel in videogames. This is why it is so important for us to recognize and manage the burnout so we can lead happy and healthy lives.
As always, you are loved and you are not alone.
Love, Lucy <3