I was going to start a thread about this, but maybe it’d be simpler to talk about it here. I was wondering if other people had this experience too, and whether it was unique to games or just part of a wider aversion to new experiences that comes with ageing?
I almost find that there’s an emotional barrier to getting into games now. I tend to find myself very poorly disposed, almost sulky and petulant, when trying to get into a new game. Nitpicking and fault-finding go through the roof, while pleasant surprises are only begrudgingly acknowledged.
Eventually I can come to accept a game is good. If I’m lucky I’ll even reach the state that I play games for: outright enthusiasm, excitement and impatience to be able to play the game when I’m doing other things. These are things I took for granted when I was younger, were the reason gaming became an obsession, but now I seem to have to fight my way there.
This reached a point of ridiculousness with Ittle Dew, which I played this week. It’s a short game, and while not mechanically complex, its puzzles can be teasing and it doesn’t brilliantly cultivate a sense of place (ie it’s maps are a bit maze-like).
But the puzzles are satisfying and clever, it’s charming, and it has a deft gently metrovania style progression: the unlocks you get through the game are necessary for some puzzles, but also, kind of brilliantly, make earlier puzzles trivial to solve. So you get a real sense of steady empowerment instead of just arbitrary gear gating, which alone is enough to put it into the upper echelons of the genre.
Anyway the combined effect of all of the above was that I reached the tipping point where I stopped sulking and realised that I was enjoying and actively looking forward to playing the game… at the exact moment I reached the end of the game. Madness!
So the paradox is that shorter games provide a sort of insurance against getting stuck committing myself to something that might take hours and hours to learn to appreciate (and never actually deliver)… but with this overhead of reluctance I have to battle through, longer games might be a safer bet because there’s more left to enjoy when (if) I get there.
This might not be strictly related, but it puts me in mind of Three Moves Ahead, which is ostensibly the premier enthusiast strategy game podcast hosted by experts of the field, but nowadays features an awful lot of discussion about the listeless ennui they feel towards the genre.
TL;DR: I’m weird.