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Video Game Blues: A Great Game Can Be A Bad Thing

You know you’ve played a great game when you fear no other game will match or surpass your new found expectations. So what happens when you’ve played the best-of-the-best?

The moment us gamers finish a game we can’t wait for the next highly anticipated digital adventure to consume us all over again. But during that stretch there’s opportunity for trepidation.

You spend so much time immersing yourself into the story, world and characters of an emotionally investing and/or a lengthy RPG so it can be hard moving on once you’ve seen its credits. But even the greatest, most unforgettable stories come to an end.  Finishing a game entwines a contradiction of accomplishment and sadness; you can’t wait to fulfill your character’s destiny but you don’t want their adventure to end. The same can be applied for book readers; movie buffs and TV show enthusiasts because you’ve developed a pattern of enjoying the ride over a certain period that it feels like you’ll break routine.

This year has fed our growing expectations with incredible triple-A titles such as Bioshock: Infinite, The Last of Us and Metro: Last Light, making the Game of the Year award extremely competitive. I didn’t play anything for a few days after I finished Bioshock: Infinite since I was wrapping my head around the amazing complex conclusion and feared no upcoming first-person-shooter will match its greatness. But there’s hope; 2013’s still breathing and more great games are coming.

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We’re just a month or two away from the anticipated E3 show-stealing games like Watch Dogs and Grand Theft Auto V so now’s a better time than any to clear your pile of unfinished games for new releases. I’m attempting to complete at least half my pile of unplayed gems which until now has just been creating an asthmatic’s nightmare on my shelf.

I decided to start with one of the highest acclaimed games of the year: Ni No Kuni, the fervently charming lovechild of animation film creators Studio Ghibli and video game developers Level-5. I flicked it on and immersed myself in its colourfully charming world, encapsulating story and enjoyable characters. Three and a half weeks later I completed the storyline as well as an ample amount of side quests and adored all fifty-four hours of gameplay. The credit’s rolled accompanied by a slower but vocal version of the theme song and I smiled with the temporary satisfaction of accomplishment.

Now what?

Like coming home from a long holiday I didn’t know how to push myself back into reality. I had invested so much of my spare time in this game that my mind still lingered in Ni No Kuni’s world. As the credits rolled I reflected on the pleasures of experiencing Oliver’s warmly gripping story like an elderly man relishes in nostalgia. But just like nostalgia it’s a pure moment I can never relive again. Sure, you can replay it and relive the experience a second or third time, but that unspoiled sense of mystery is gone. I tried starting another game shortly after but turned it off before reaching the main menu. I didn’t have the motivation to begin a new adventure as I felt it wouldn’t meet my newly acquired high expectations.

A quick search through the forums of The Escapist, Gamespot or Bioware will net you some gamers discussing the brief sorrow after completing an epic game. They range from the completion of Final Fantasy to Mass Effect and how their conclusion fuelled sadness for their accomplishment.

The reason I believe we get these brief blues is because we enjoy the chase rather than the goal. A road trip can be more enjoyable than the destination and working towards that objective is part of the fun. Leveling up your character and finding secrets is a major aspect of the game and knowing you had fun working hard to familiarise yourself with the world, it’s characters and gameplay just makes the conclusion much sweeter. Not all games are sold on the basis they’ll have a great story; we play them because they’ll be fun. Sure a good story is a definite bonus but, excluding the exception of purely story driven games such as Heavy Rain or L.A Noire, we’re almost always sold on the gameplay.

So how can you deal with this temporary sadness? Easy … ish.

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Take a break from gaming.
I know, it might sound horrible and downright barbaric but by taking your mind off your last game and indulging yourself in another hobby can help ease your way back into the world of interactive digital entertainment. Maybe a puzzle? I mean an actual thousand piece puzzle not Pokémon Puzzle League.

Get things done.
Now it’s your chance to catch up on things you promised you’d do one day. That story you wanted to write, the assignment which is due next week, an instrument you wanted to learn or that game you wanted to fini – no that’s not right. The hell do I do for fun when I’m not gaming?

Play some bad games

See? Bad games have a role in the universe. This solution might sound contradictory to my first point but it may also be conflicting enough to work. If your limited options don’t give you room to branch out from gaming then why not play some so-bad-they’re-good games? They’re so fun to exploit! For instance: watching their overly broken glitches can create some wildly hilarious surprises to induce hyena-cackling laughter. But once you’ve exhausted your jaw and cheek muscles then sooner or later you’ll beg for another game to play.

100% the game
This is for the purist gamers who obsesses over every collectable, every secret, every easter egg and every platinum trophy or achievement. If you haven’t done so already before finishing the main campaign then this is something that’ll make you want to play something else. Now this option depends on how much you really love the game. I love a lot of games but the only two I’ve ever completely finished are Crash Nitro Kart and Pokemon Blue. Some might argue I’m not experiencing the full potential a game has to offer just by doing a few side quests and the main story but that’s how I like to play. The obsession with collecting every possible item and unlocking every secret seems like a chore rather than something I’d enjoy doing, especially if the only reward is just a few points to my Gamerscore. I begin a game trying to accomplish as much as I can, nabbing every collectible and uncovering as many secrets as possible but I usually give up once I realise I haven’t even uncovered half of my collectables. If this is your thing then definitely go for it because you’ll no doubt want to try something else after so much micromanagement.

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All good things come to an end. Like a hard break up or an overseas holiday, eventually we have to push ourselves back into reality and strive for the next adventure. This topic may sound like an over exaggeration of a first-world problem but if you’re a passionate gamer who’s grown attached to a long-spanning trilogy like Mass Effect then you’ll undoubtedly feel the brief sorrowful sting of remorseful completion. But just remember that the experience, the memories and the ride of undergoing a lengthy and emotionally absorbing game, book, movie or TV show will always find a cushy spot in our minds to permanently live rent free. At least until the next Game of the Year takes us hostage.



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