Are Games Losing My Interest, or Is it Just Me?

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Are Games Losing My Interest, or Is it Just Me?

In this age of instant-gratification user-choice-driven entertainment, am I losing the ability to focus on video games, and consequently finding it harder and harder to get immersed?

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I listen to the Cracked Podcast when I game. They are compelling to me in a way the audio from a game just /lacks/. Plus, I use winamps global hotkeys so all I have to do is hit my hotkey combo when a cut-scene comes up and it is paused.

I feel like the problem is that I need more information bandwidth from a game than they are willing to give me. So having a podcast going really helps eat up the part of the brainpower the game I am playing is failing to utilize. Thoughts?

I have that myself lately, I suppose if you've grown up on games you pick a kind of seen it all attitude. I can still enjoy games but gradually I've moved towards things like FTL or The Binding of Issac that I can play in a window and have YouTube off to the side, entertainment multitasking. I do play singnificantly less hours due to other life stuff and work but a lot of my spare time is still spent gaming, just not the ones I have to devote my whole attention too.

I think it's just a habit you carry over from bad games to good ones. And when you become used to a certain level of background noise, a real silence is a bit of an unnerving thing. I'm finding what you describe here happens to me as well, sadly. Games just don't seem as engaging as they once were, and I don't think that can be entirely blamed on nostalgia. I swear it's not just my imagination that stories are getting lazier and mechanics more half-baked. The bigger a game is, the more unfurnished and unfinished spaces I seem to find. With the worst offenders, the story is so dull that it has to be drowned out with an entertaining podcast to keep my attention, or the game's likely to be left languishing on the shelf for a decade or more.

Back in the day, you spend $50 on a game, unless it was broken, you focused upon beating it. Today, I can pick up 5 games for $1 at humble bundle per week. There is so much content and so little investment.

Add to that how hard it is to find cheats. I want to have fun, not be engaged in frustration. Easy should mean easy. If it isn't, I'll do the easy first few parts and move onto another game.

ITMT: You may want to review http://www.nofap.org/ .

Unfortunately, The infinite Monkey cage podcasts run out quickly and there hasn't been any other podcast i have found to replace what they had. I spoilt myself with the best first and now i am podfucked. Assuming you have already gone through them yourself, i cannot honestly recommend anything else until it matches or exceeds that quality. Sorry! Even top rated smart podcast lists have been disappointment upon disappointment. Especially the Stargazing series with Neil DT...moving from IMC to those, feels like downgrading from heroin to aspirin. Except the aspirin repeats everything with particularly overreactive americans, hardly a hint of intelligent humour and far too many soundbites in editing.

Moving on, considering this article was merely a conversation with yourself, you addressed most of the points throughout. But i would say that Salt and Sanctuary, and i guess the Souls whole style, is very audibly uninteresting to play. Far too many quiet moments to reflect on how many times you've walked the same corridor towards a boss. Far too many quite moments for your brain to decide it isn't worth it anymore and tighten that noose in the bedside drawer for use. So It's understandable to require background distractions. I do the same with elder scrolls games. Though Fallout at least gives you a radio.
It all depends on how much atmosphere the game brings, horror especially would need sound unfiltered. But many developers do not realise the power of audio for immersion. It should be simple to spot what developers have tried and who thought they could phone it in (pun probably intended).

Honestly, this is my sentiment at the moment too. Games start to feel more like products as the years go by and less like engaging experiences. The big push for open world games has created a rut in my opinion. These kids of games simply create a space for mindless busywork more times than not.

I made myself push through Fallout 4 and the most recent FarCry even though I wasn't really enjoying either. I also felt the same, but to a lesser extent, with Batman:AK and MGS V. Those games had more interesting mechanics and story bits sprinkled in to hold my attention. However, I still came away from both of those games somewhat unsatisfied.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have games with compelling stories and ideas, like SOMA or Layers of Fear, but they can't make a fun game around them. Some people may lament the term "walking simulator", but I can't think of a more appropriate title. There's hardly anything to interact with while being spoon-fed atmosphere and plot.

No doubt things like Youtube make it very easy to just want to flip through entertainment rather than to commit to a video or show till the end, but I never understood this need to play games or watch movies while simultatiously listening to music or podcasts. Maybe that's just my one-track mind wanting to focus on what's infront of me and not have it get fractured into multiple states of divided attention. If a game is so uninteresting to me that I need to drown out the boredom than why would I want to keep playing it at all?

Not committing to media as much as we used to seems to be some kind of side-effect or spreading disease of new/contemporary/emergent/whatever media...

YT and podcasts seem to intrude on gaming in particular, perhaps because culturally it all seems to a part of the same messy, pause/unpause milieu, where videos, audio, and games can be left and resumed, and consumed in byte bite sizes. Sometimes you never need to concentrate 100% on a game, or a podcast, or a YT vid, and so they all experientially creep over each other. I never used to do it, but now it sometimes actually annoys me...

For the record, my preferred source of podcasts to ruin--- sorry, 'augment' gaming with is the Aussy duo of the Weekly Planet/Mr Sunday Movies.

Since I'm not obligated to play video games, I've recently taken to just playing them less. If I can't focus solely on whatever it is I'm doing, I try to find something else to do, and maybe come back to it later. Otherwise, afterward I'll just be depressed with the distinct feeling of having wasted my time not doing anything particularly enjoyable or enriching.

The only game I've been doing this with is Minecraft, which is by its very nature monotonous enough that I don't usually need to be paying attention to the sound and which is more of a virtual hobby than a game anyway. I don't usually have the sound on for The Binding of Isaac either, but it still commands enough concentration that I don't want to be distracted from my goal of maybe finally beating it this time.

I admittedly have a lousy attention span that has only been exacerbated by the multitasking nature of computers and my ability to switch between tabs whenever something temporarily loses my interest, but the idea of having two things going on at once is still pretty foreign to me. Maybe it's because I already have that condition where my mind can't stop wandering (it's hard to get to sleep at night for this same reason), and the stuff I'm thinking about is enough of a second thing going on by itself.

I am also someone who's come to game almost exclusively with something else going on the side. I think it's a cross between two factors: stimulation 'normalization' and more an indictment of videogame music than videogames themselves. The Witness I think starkly demonstrates this as it is, and supposed to be, silent for the atmosphere and thus allows the stimulation aspect to shine through very powerfully. To speak from my personal experience, that last game I can even clearly remember the combat music from is Mass Effect 2, with most games nowadays I find I give the music a brief chance to engage me but then in most cases I realize pretty quickly it's not overwhelming enough, and find something to supplement it.

Which that word, 'overwhelming', leads to part two of my thought: that people doing this have likely become accustomed to such high stimulation that anything lower creates that almost 'silence-phobic' feeling. The volume penetrating our lives has been cranked up and up and up as our media, and especially interactive media, can be with us every step of the day now. In fact a scenario that I think illuminates this is driving, especially commuting: even as the driver (much less as a passenger or on a bus) when on a very familiar route the brain just goes on autopilot (Occasionally with catastrophic results) and barely puts any active thought; even decades before now drivers have sought out music, talk radio, audiobooks, chewing gum, whatever, just craving something that will increase the stimulation level back to more what the person is accustomed to. The point we're at now is just higher up that hill from becoming accustomed to more and more and more stimulation being the norm.

While I try not to do this too often, about once a year when my Youtube/Podcast/Netflix queues get a long enough backlog on them I decide to play a Blizzard game on one screen and my movie/video/podcast on the other screen (only reason I got the newest WoW expansion was to do this, though I haven't been back to that for over a year now). Most games I'm not able to pay enough attention to the other media and I end up realizing I stopped listening, or I paused it during some part of the game and never unpaused it a few hours later. With Blizzard games it just seems so easy to be able to half play, half watch something, especially if it's one of the games I've been through 10 or 11 times (which very well may be all of them).

I wonder if it has to do with games or if it's a reaction to a culture of multitasking, where I can't think of anyone who does only one thing at a time (even I am also going to the toilet and/or cooking if I'm reading a book). I know some people who've been to counseling who say the urge to drown oneself in stimulation abates as you sort out your own personal issues, but I'm going to put a hefty asterisk on that assertion since I have no idea what mechanism causes that to happen.

I don't think you judge yourself on this particular quirk of personality too harshly. I feel that the degree multitasking someone might do is a matter of personality. My friend programs while watching netflix. Another of mine works while watching youtube videos. I hardly ever multitask while gaming or watching something, but I feel like the trade for consuming less media is to have a better memory of what I do consume. The times I do split my attention while gaming are when I've played a game I really like before, or a game requires some sort of grinding or thoughtless task.

Sometimes it may be that a game demands variety, that the sound or even your full attention is not required. Sometimes it's a matter of expectation. You may have liked Salt and Sanctuary, but claim that it is for all intents and purposes a clone of Dark Souls, then you've more or less gone through the motions.

For story heavy games or ones which require a lot of thinking, I just play them. For everything else, I break out the podcasts and playlists.

"I started playing Witness and Division with the 'intended experience' and the 'intended experience' was putting me to sleep. Was that enough?"

I have been doing the same for ages. Some games just have a lot of music going on, and most of the time I think MY exact playlist is better than the few shitty songs they have on loop. Or the game has hardly any audio (MechWarrior Online), so I turn the music on at 30%. There are also games that I just never use external music...

It's basically a way of having your ears enjoy themselves as much as your eyes/brain. The more I am enjoying myself the better it is! After all, I play games to enjoy myself; not to get the 100% as intended artist's vision. (Which you cannot get anyway, as all development is constrained by cash, technology and/or time to some amount(s) ).

I find the inverse to be more true. If I'm playing a game to play the game, I dislike having the external distractions since I don't want to be at a disadvantage (we're talking Dark Souls games, competitive fighting games, and RTS games). However, if I'm listening to a podcast then I feel like I have to be doing something else, otherwise I'm not using my time optimally. Sometimes this is fighting game training mode combo practice, other times its coding or video editing work, but I can't just listen to something while sitting there. I feel like I'm just wasting my time.

I don't have this problem, for I am but a lowly console peasant. I play a game, I focus on it and ignore everything else around me, unless it's someone in my house yelling for my help IRL. I only look away from the game to my laptop open to a webpage with hints for whichever game I'm playing, to find an item, get through a side mission, beat a boss, etc.

I put podcasts and music up in the background of whatever game I'm playing so long as I've heard the game's audio all before (typically after one complete playthrough) and there's nothing that can help my performance (stealth games, etc).

When you've mastered the game and boiled it down to a system you know by heart, it's not going to engage like it did when you were still learning and experiencing it for the first time. This can even happen when you're playing many games of the same genre, and doesn't necessarily mean you don't like the game or that it's not good, it's just that you know it too well for it to excite and surprise you. But this can either be from the game being boring and predictable (Yahtzee's assessment of 'The Division') or being from a genre and formulae you know quite well already (his 'Salt and Sanctuary', being two dimensional Dark Souls).

Anyway, I don't have any particularly good podcasts to recommend, but I like 80s metal, retro wave and videogame soundtracks I've found memorable over the years.

It depends on the game, honestly.

The game that I most regularly do this with is World of Warcraft, but as an earlier poster said, that game by its very nature get monotonous really quickly.

I also did this with South Park: The Stick of Truth, but that was after already playing the game twice (I'm trying to beat it while playing as all four classes). Same thing happened while I was replaying XCOM.

It seems like if I've already played the game once or twice, I'll do this. If it's a game that I haven't played before though, I'll 100% focus on the game.

I am skipping this current generation of consoles. They lack that "killer app" game that the previous console generations had. Right now, I am exploring the games that were exclusive to the PS3. Did you know they have a trilogy of games that is like Indiana Jones if it was written by Joss Whedon?

As listening to music/podcasts while playing games, I have done this with a few games. Mainly racing games like Burnout. Audioslave's first album makes a great soundtrack for the Burnout series. I had music playing for the racing inspired FPS game The Club. Ironically, my favorite song to listen to while playing that game was by gospel singer Mavis Staples singing the civil rights song Eyes on the Prize. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZWdDI_fkns

Go out into the sun for a day or two. Take a stroll in the park. Have a swim in your local swimming pool. Go drink a cappuccino in a cafe and read something interesting.

You are probably overdosed on gaming. Eventually you will recover and playing video games will be fun again.

I don't understand how people can both play games and listen to Youtube videos at the same time, if I try doing that i'm unable to enjoy either of them. I'm not a person who can multi-task.

KissingSunlight:
I am skipping this current generation of consoles. They lack that "killer app" game that the previous console generations had. Right now, I am exploring the games that were exclusive to the PS3. Did you know they have a trilogy of games that is like Indiana Jones if it was written by Joss Whedon?

As listening to music/podcasts while playing games, I have done this with a few games. Mainly racing games like Burnout. Audioslave's first album makes a great soundtrack for the Burnout series. I had music playing for the racing inspired FPS game The Club. Ironically, my favorite song to listen to while playing that game was by gospel singer Mavis Staples singing the civil rights song Eyes on the Prize. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZWdDI_fkns

Not me, i'm loving this generation so far.

I've never listened to music or anything else in the background for a single game i've played, as I always feel like it's way too much of a distraction.

I'm the type of person that finds too much stimulation to be very annoying(due to having Asperger's Syndrome) I for one relish silence as it relaxes me.

If I'm listening to the news or a podcast, I need to be doing something. Usually I play the original N, Superfighters, or any of the many free jigsaw or sliding puzzles that litter the net. I can play these games on their own, but I can't just sit and listen to someone talking.

Needing something to fidget with while listening to audio or video:
I listen better if I'm doing something with my hands. In classes when I was in school, or now when I'm in meetings, I'll doodle on whatever I'm taking notes on and I stay both more interested and less fidgety. I hate watching tv and not having anything to do with my hands. My dad does the same thing during phone conversations, I can tell when he's been on the phone a lot because I'll find his doodles on whatever non-essential piece of paper was in front of hm at the time; he's been like that as long as I can remember.

And I'm 41 and have been playing video games for most of my life, while my dad is 68 and doesn't play video games at all. So I don't think any theories about being part of certain generations or growing up with with constant streaming media would apply to either of us. I think it's just part of how our brains are wired and I think it's possible you're the same way, Yahtzee.

Needing something to listen to while playing a game:

Tiamat666:
Go out into the sun for a day or two. Take a stroll in the park. Have a swim in your local swimming pool. Go drink a cappuccino in a cafe and read something interesting.

You are probably overdosed on gaming. Eventually you will recover and playing video games will be fun again.

I was going to say you just sound burned out to me, but Tiamat666 did such a better and more tactful job of that I'm going to quote him instead. :)

I've been watching Zero Punctuation since sometime in 2008. I honestly don't know how you went on this long without hitting burnout sooner.

Yahtzee, if you are looking for a new podcast may I suggest Welcome to Nightvale? I'm going to post the description from TvTropes.com because I'm terrible at describing things:

"Welcome to Night Vale is a Surreal Humor/Horror Podcast/Radio Drama depicting life in the desert town of Night Vale, a fictional community where the paranormal not only exists, but is a fact of everyday life that the citizens have to deal with in addition to the mundane details of living in a small, isolated town.

Done in a community radio style, the show reports on the various stories around town and the community events happening that week. The host is Cecil, who coolly narrates in a dispassionate manner reminiscent of Garrison Keillor in A Prairie Home Companion. The background music playing throughout the show is composed by Disparition, with the exception of the "Weather" section of the show, which features a different musical guest each episode.

The show treads a fine line between hilarious absurdity and genuine creepiness. Within a flexible format, each broadcast features not only reports on the town, but also Cecil's personal thoughts and experiences. Night Vale is populated by Secret Police, mysterious hooded figures in the town dog park, and just about every possible conspiracy theory come to life."

As for the question at the end, I don't think any art work should be allowed to hide behind the "You went consuming in in the intended way" argument. I have kids, so at least a small part of my brain is always tuned to their whereabouts in the house when I'm playing a game, which prevents me from being really immersed in anything and is differently not the way any game was "intended" to be played, but I still find myself being fully engaged by games like the newest Shadowrun games, Stardew Valley, Ark etc. A good game, and indeed any good peace of art, will be good and keep you occupied regardless of external factors.

I've never really thought about it, though I can pinpoint exactly when it was that I really started listening to other things when I game: 2008, when I played Assassin's Creed II for the first time and thought, "I'm enjoying this so much, I want to complete it 100%!" I would put on stand-up comedy while I tracked down all the feathers and whatnot. I think it stems from games having a lot of downtime. When you watch a movie, the movie is pretty much engaging for the whole time (in theory) and in a constant state of flux. Games come with a lot of busy work, and sometimes that busy work is enjoyable, like when you play Minecraft. Other times it's tedious, see previous example of AC2. But whether good or bad, the fact remains that the games are not entirely engaging in some manner. If you find yourself listening to a comedian while you unload clip after clip of lead into virtual nobodies, maybe it is a failing on the game's part? However, everyone takes a break from routine in real life to do something different because doing the same thing for hours on end is mind-numbing. If you find yourself in need of something to break routine, perhaps its a symptom of a broader issue? Perhaps games are too similar now in tone or setting or something? Maybe it's time to take some time off and just not play games for a while? Maybe games need to be more flexible and not just be 10-100-hour grinds of the same damn thing with only an ancillary sense of progression attached? I dunno, I'm going back to playing Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows while listening to Let's Plays.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Are Games Losing My Interest, or Is it Just Me?

In this age of instant-gratification user-choice-driven entertainment, am I losing the ability to focus on video games, and consequently finding it harder and harder to get immersed?

Read Full Article

Oh come on now, Yahtzee, this is too easy...

image

But more seriously, I find that many games which are grinders (like muhmorpuhguhs) are improved with a custom soundtrack. There is a running joke that anytime mentions the sounds effects in Eve Online, the response is, "Eve has sound?" as almost no one leaves the music or sounds effects turned on.

I think like you mentioned, it depends on the genere of game, and its overall design. Anything that is going to be repetative, like RPGs and you are looking at something that could likely be improved with your own soundtrack. Games that do not have repetition elements and where every moment will be something new or unique throughout will likely be best played with the intended sounds.

A number of games are designed for just this, and of the games you've said you do it with, there seems to be two types;
1. Games that you're not really interested in to begin with and are playing because I guess you have to. Not enough to hold your interest, your interest wonders.
2. Games specifically designed for that type of gameplay, at least most likely; I haven't played all of them.

Some games are just designed for abnegation. The ability to perform simple, mindless tasks to unwind at the end of the day, or during a break. Games designed such that you can play them and progress, without engaging too much, so you can focus on something else as well. If that's the sort of game you feel yourself enjoying at the end of the day, well, more power to you.

As you've said, games that engage you and demand your attention get it - heavy story elements, or gameplay where you're into it and focused to the point where you can't listen to a podcast at the same time, it'd more just be playing and you wouldn't hear a word that was said as its similar to watching 2 TV shows at once - and you don't need to do that, but if a game doesn't require your attention, either because it doesn't engage you as it should, or because they were designed to need minimal attention, then yeah, its pretty normal to also find something else to do, and unwind with something not stressful, but a mind stimulated enough to not bore you.

I'll bet you didn't multitask on the Dark Souls games. Many games are so generic they're boredom inducing rather than attention grabbing.

wax:
I'll bet you didn't multitask on the Dark Souls games. Many games are so generic they're boredom inducing rather than attention grabbing.

I do... when waiting for being summoned. In fact, I'm doing it right now at the entrance of the church. Oh, I've got go...

As stated by some people, I think its representative of the other media your consuming as well. As some poster have stated, they need something to do while listening to the podcast. I actually watched Gotham during while playing ESO (which I did only get into less than a month ago but some parts are really boring already). I watched the first three episode by themselves with multitasking. It was the worst story and characterisation I have seen in a long time. But if I didn't think about what was happening too much (like while playing a game), those niggly things didn't come up. I remember NCIS and CSI being the same way.

As to music, I think I have been spoilt by Fallout 3/NV/4. With a station playing different music than soundtrack makes the experience more enjoyable (GTA etc would be the same thing). I don't want to listen to the soundtrack unless its making a big impact.

I also find that I'm pretty time poor, so the not very informative but semi comedic ones like Cooptional or Jimquistition are better during game. I have economics and philosophy ones for hard thinking (maybe during a run, but sometimes doing nothing depending on the subject)

I would recommend Yahtzee listen to the Co Optional Podcast(especially since he might be a guest one day) or the Podquisition.

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