The three types of gaming malaise

I am suffering from gaming malaise.

In my experience there are three types of gaming malaise.

The first is particularly common in the summer period; the gaming doldrums while the studios play down the clock until the release dates for their big Christmas hitters. Pretty straightforward — it’s a case of nothing substantial to play and nothing on the horizon.

The second is the feeling of lethargy which comes when perfectly good games fail to grab you. It’s not quite the same as the first type of malaise because it happens regardless of what’s on the release schedule. This one is far more likely to be tied up with what’s going on in your life. Working late, relationship stress, or simply the lure of the outside world means you’re distracted, tired or just plain unavailable meaning you can’t get truly stuck into anything. From a personal point of view this type of gaming malaise usually sees me losing great swathes of my life to joyless blank-faced sessions of Puzzle Quest and Bejeweled.

Goodbye, productivity.

But it’s the third kind I have right now. A slightly rarer beast where the release date of a game I have been looking forward to for months — years sometimes — is suddenly tantalisingly close. That’s what’s currently happening to me. Skyrim is released in less than a week and I’m finding it utterly impossible to care about any of the other games I’m playing. Deus Ex Is going completely ignored, Gran Turismo 5 is being shunned and the last level of From Dust would be gathering dust if it wasn’t an Xbox Live Arcade offering.

Skyrim, or 'how I'm spending my free time from now until Christmas'.

I am completely consumed with the idea of returning to Tamriel (I actually booked a week off work just so my real world obligations wouldn’t be able to interrupt my gaming). You’d think this would be the ideal opportunity to get some of the unfinished stuff done and dusted. After all, if I get as absorbed by Skyrim as I did Oblivion, by the time I resurface I’ll have forgotten anything I’ve accomplished so far and we’ll be right back to Deus Ex humanitarian disasters.

The broader frustration with all of this (i.e. moving beyond my own personal gaming issues) is that none of the three kinds of gaming malaise are within the control of the gamer. All we can do is drift (and top up our high scores on various Pop Cap time sinks) until our mojo returns.





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