I think a lot about the new games that are constantly coming out. In some cases, games that I'd love to play, but that are coming out so quickly I can't keep up. Certain franchises are releasing an entirely new entry in the series every year. Other games that I love have begun to move into a system of "seasons" of play. This is where new content is coming out regularly in time limited chunks throughout the year. Streamers (an industry that I really enjoy, by the way) spend a great deal of time exploring this content and further enticing players to pick up the titles that they're loving and dive into the wave after wave of content.
To begin, I totally understand why this all needs to happen. Gaming is a business. They are selling us entertainment. And just like any other business, new content needs to be created and sold all the time. I get it. I support it. However, I have a hard time keeping up with it. My schedule doesn't allow for an endless supply of gaming. I do get a healthy dose of it every week, but still, it's not like it was when I was younger and could beat a game multiple times to get multiple endings. I've mentioned in previous posts, I have to prioritize my gaming.
This results in me simply having to say "No" to a significant number of games and experiences. Which, had an unexpected impact on my anxiety. My anxiety has a way of being managed by collecting or achieving things. This can manifest in multiple different ways. For example, I gain a great deal of comfort from finishing things. So, finishing a book and moving on to the next book is a sort of thrill for me. Finishing a project, like writing a paper, is a similar sort of thrill, though it requires much more effort than reading a book or playing a video game. So gaming has always been a low impact, relaxing way to manage my stresses and feel good.
In past generations of games, I could take my time and try to completely finish a game getting all of the collectibles, in game awards, and achievements. As new games, and particularly in our modern era of seasonal rewards, began to build up though, I discovered a new anxiety response. I had felt like I was constantly playing catch up to just finish seasonal experiences. I've begun to prioritize my games based on what season content is being released when, and how I can quickly achieve all of the time limited items I wanted before the content closed out. This is not a winning experience though. It makes my relaxing gaming sessions feel a lot more like work.
I've had to come up with a new personal policy. I'm prioritizing again. I can't earn everything, and some things have to drop off. Accepting my limitations feels bad at first. However, I take a lesson from my clients who were part of the NA and AA fellowships. They taught me that when they accepted their powerlessness over certain life circumstances, they gained power over their lives. I see a parallel for myself here. As I give up on earning EVERYTHING, I feel some discomfort, but then I gain a sense of relief. My favorite activities stop being like a job, and they return to being favored activities. I still prioritize and there are some things I'll jump into to be able to try and achieve what I want to earn. However, I'm learning that I can't do everything, nor should I try. That's resulted in a significant improvement on my mental health. I wonder how many others are feeling these pressures to "keep up" with the content that you love, rather than enjoying the content you love. I'd love to hear everyone's' thoughts on this.
- This post written by Dr. Steve Kuniak