If you know me then you will be aware of my adoration for video games, and if you are familiar with this blog you will see the larger subject matter is directed towards gaming. Whilst I am consistently following news and information on video games, as well as purchasing new titles, I have found myself in the last year or two to have hit a brick wall when it comes to playing them. Part of me thinks it is procrastination, but I wonder if there are other reasons…
We’re all familiar with procrastination having that pressure to feel like we have to do something to better ourselves. Video games can come in as a distraction to perhaps researching something for your job, learning a recipe or going to the gym. My issue is that even now I’m struggling with playing video games in general, even for pleasure.
I’ve enjoyed video games since I can remember and they certainly became a predominant part of my life in my later teens and early 20’s whilst I was at university. I was eager to enjoy and learn a lot about retro games and had a wonderful few years collecting and playing as many games as I could from classic Nintendo, Sony, Sega and XBOX consoles. I have still purchased new titles that have caught my attention, mainly for the Nintendo Switch, but coincidentally my playtime of video games has depleted significantly and my hours I have devoted in the last two years are laughable.
In 2017 when the Nintendo Switch was launched and I had a steady income (being my first year out of university), I found myself investing hours into games such as The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Splatoon 2 and especially Super Mario Odyssey. After finishing the latter title everything seemed to change. Nintendo didn’t stop releasing titles and I didn’t stop buying them. However, for the vast majority of 2018 and even more so now into 2019 there have been minor moments to which a video game release has received a large amount of my time.
I’m currently playing Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fuelled and Super Mario Maker 2, but even then I’m not giving them the time they deserve. My biggest contribution definitely came during the later half of last year when Spider-Man launched on the PS4 and I didn’t put the controller down for a solid month until I had completed every last mission and collectable! However, once the harder mode was added and DLC began I had lost interest. I thought the story and characters in Spider-Man were incredible and the vast unlockable content the game had gave me a drive to see everything it had to offer. Maybe I was more in-tune due to it being Spider-Man (my favourite Marvel superhero) or maybe because it was a compelling game, because there are plenty story/unlocking games out there which haven’t grabbed me.
For a lot of 2016/2017 and some of 2018 I was invested in the online multi-player Overwatch like a lot of people were. It was a huge success from the start and the varied character, map and game choice were a treat. I found the game easier to play than standard story-based titles due to the quick succession of games (as long as you weren’t waiting to join one) and playing for an hour meant you could get around 4 games in, more if you were good…or bad. I’ve seen the trend of online shooters increase further after Overwatch with titles such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite being two of the most popular titles of 2018 and furthermore with the market that e-Sports has now it’s understandable why they’re played more. They’re fast, intense and you’re testing your skills against real people so they’re an attractive style of video gaming.
Now I’ve highlighted that procrastination is a large proportion as to why I haven’t played as many video games as before and this is not the only factor that can be shared for reduced game time. Jobs/work time and mental health are two major contributing factors as to why I do not game as much as I used to. I work a mixture of shifts and hours and so once home I find myself disinterested from and honestly feel that playing a story game is looking for the nearest save point to then take a break and potentially stop for the night.
In respects to mental health, a lot of the time the investment required into a video game doesn’t attract me and when feeling like you don’t want to do much, video games are bottom of the pile. This is not a defining reason for my absence in gaming as others with mental health issues will seek video games as therapeutic and necessary escapism. Personally, it is a contributing factor and I believe having a large library in the spoiled modern age as with film and music leaves me with too many options and decision making.
Arguably still, video games are a sign of procrastination where many of us will engage in them instead of doing more important things or perhaps a lifestyle/hobbies that could be considered to be of importance. Either way video games will come under some kind of scrutiny instead of highlighting its gains such as multitasking, socialising and brain speed.
Whilst writing this piece I set up a survey asking gamers if they had any similarities with gaming and procrastination and out of 36 responses these are the results:
From the first question, 75% of responses from those asked said that they too have played less video games than in previous years.
Annoyingly, one person skipped this question, however the results showed 31.43% said 7-10 hours a week was the healthiest average one should be playing video games with an almost equal amount deciding more and less time is also adequate. In the ‘other’ section the comments highlighted as long as you’re keeping your life sustainable with other aspects e.g. work, any amount of time spent gaming is fine.
My next question highlighted that a lot of those asked, 75% to be specific, want to get more games under their belt, but like myself seem to find themselves returning to the games they are used to. It can be a lot easier and comfortable and even more so if you’re good at a game. Arguably some games take a lot of dedication and some take a lot of time to progress to get better skilled at, or unlock better items such as armour and weaponry.
I was surprised at this one, but due to the lack of recipients I can understand the answers not working out to my predictions. No matter how big online multi-player games like Fortnite have been in the last couple of years, 61.11% said they don’t play those games over story-based ones. In the Other response section, the two stand out responses discussed that online multi-players were filler for big AAA story-based titles and that their choice of game can depend on their mood. Everyone is different.
The fifth question provided a much larger vote for one answer in respect to whether people feel like playing video games, but then lack the desire to do so. In total 75% felt that way which is a stand out moment in what this piece has been discussing. In our minds we could be imagining the fun of gaming, but when it comes to the actual moment we just don’t feel like we have the ability to do so.
There was an interesting balance looking at video games that have both a story-line and the option to explore the game world. 50% said they were more focused on the task at hand whereas 39% said they ended up exploring more. Clearly there are still a lot of people who have good concentration with video games and aim to progress with them, yet that does not ignore the amount of us who can create our own adventure by playing around with a game’s mechanics and finding Easter eggs. The others section put forward that they did a bit of both which is completely understandable when playing these long story games.
The seventh question looked for direct answers from the respondents, asking for their view on why we end up playing video games less. Below are some of the stand out points. Having a job and family were a lot of the common answers and highlighting that a lot of jobs involve screens now, maybe we just want to be away from them out of work.
“Having a job leaves little time for playing video games. But in my personal experience mental illness is another huge factor, it’s difficult to enjoy or bring yourself to start up a game when you suffer from depression as you just don’t have the energy and a lack of ability to concentrate. Even if you do for a fleeting moment want to play a game.”
“Juggling family life & a full time job means game time is few & far between, both my kids are gamers (usually Fortnite / Overwatch / Minecraft) and I encourage them to play on older games and multiplayers too. I’ll usually get chance to play when the kids are in bed, I have to be in the right mood to play a videogame though, so procrastination does have an effect. gone are the days when I could happily spend a day playing on games! I am one to play a game and try and complete it though before moving onto the next one. I think this comes from saving up spending money as a kid to buy a new game. I wanted to get my moneys worth! Having a good balance between game playing and doing other activities is a must though.”“Definitely jobs, working in front of a screen and having to use guidance puts me off playing guided storyline games, linking back to previous questions about exploring or following story on games like GTA, it’s much more fun to sit down and explore on a game like that than to force yourself to sit and play the story.Also could be age? I don’t feel like many games that are targeted at my age bracket are necessarily fun anymore in comparison to games made targeting my age group when I was younger.”
An overwhelming 71% from 35 responses revealed that they struggle with procrastination with one of the Other responses highlighting it depended on the task at hand which is a key point in this survey. A lot of us will struggle with procrastination, but it doesn’t mean that it will be a case when it comes to video games and will be in much more daunting tasks that usually benefit our future. In some scenarios, that’s where video games can be associated. For example, my journalistic work revolves around video games and therefore to progress in my work I have to be up to date or be ready to write which can be met with pressure.
As I’ve just mentioned that video games can fall into the category for people and not for others and the response to this question is almost split down the middle. The results showed that 49% agreed that they struggle and 43% felt the opposite as they will use video games as part of procrastination, or don’t struggle with it at all. I felt comfort in seeing that almost half of respondents related to my procrastination, but I was glad that others didn’t feel that way and would enjoy or play video games more.
The final question that was put forward and option to whether any of the respondents had any advice on dealing with procrastination. Here are some of the responses that stood out:
“Set goals, play music if it helps. Drink coffee, if that’s not your thing then tea, and lots of water too. Don’t overburden yourself, and take regular breaks and reward yourself often. Get some exercise too as it improves your mental health, and the endorphins and the time spent outside helps massively with work motivation.”
“In general: Know how much you can do, split it up into manageable tasks and make a plan for the week. Also, always plan at least 20 % extra time for unforeseen stuff.”
If you have any thoughts or advice on procrastination or want to express any issues you have with it, please let your thoughts be heard in the comments below. My advice would be to not set yourself down for failure by doing your task in small amounts of time such as work/game/write etc for 20 minutes, have a five minute break and then two more of these sessions, a 10 minute break and then repeat. Rushing gets us nowhere and we don’t have to be perfectionists, lets be the best we can be at a reasonable pace.