FOMO and Pressuring Ourselves to Like Something

Over the past few days I’ve seen two people take to Twitter to talk about how they were struggling to find the fun in games that are widely popular. I won’t out the people, but the games were Hades and Final Fantasy XIV. It’s really hard to tease nuance from a Tweet and it is super easy to mentally add a tone that isn’t there, but to me both people seemed to feel a little sheepish (or maybe frustrated?) about their reactions to these games.

Maybe that’s just me projecting because, OMG do I ever feel sheepish when I share feelings like this. And for me it happens a lot. I just don’t get what others see in some games (or even genres) and it makes me feel like an outsider. Everyone is happily chatting about Game X and I want to be a part of that conversation but then I play Game X and it’s just not fun for me. If I push through, then I just get annoyed with the game and myself.

I give great advice to others who feel this way (I don’t listen to it myself): “Games are for your enjoyment. Play what makes you happy. No one cares what you like or don’t like.” That last one always sounds way more harsh than I mean it to be. But it is mostly true, right? Unless you are an “influencer” who has enough followers to sway the chances of a game’s success or failure, your liking or not liking a game doesn’t really impact others in any significant way.

None of that advice really helps with that feeling of missing out and being outside of a conversation, though. I have no good advice to help with the FOMO, at least not in terms of wide-ranging social media “conversations.” If you have some quiet time with a small group of individuals you can ask them what they like about the game. Not in a “convince me” way but in a “share what you enjoy” way. There are times when you can draw great happiness just from other peoples’ enjoyment of a thing, even if that thing isn’t for you. For example @partpurple LOVES Animal Crossing in all its forms. I don’t care for it in terms of playing it, but it makes me so happy listening to her talk about all the fun she gets from the game. Her excitement and enthusiasm are infectious. So I second-hand love Animal Crossing even if I feel pretty “meh” about it first-hand.

Can we teach ourselves to like something? Certainly there will be times in our life when we encounter something that is an ‘acquired taste’ which — once you have acquired that taste — we may come to love, but I’m not sure it happens very often in video games. For sure I have ‘bounced off’ a game once or twice then come back later and loved it, that seems more about the particular headspace I’m in at a particular time, or even about a game that’s been improved via patches and upgrades. I don’t think that’s the same as making a deliberate attempt to ‘find the fun’ and convince yourself you love a game right here, right now. If someone has a trick to doing this, please share. To me, the video game heart wants what the video game heart wants.

So no huge revelations from me today. Just have fun when you’re playing games. If you’re not having fun, stop playing that game. If all your friends are talking about it, try to listen to their stories as stories, not as an enticement to go do what they are doing. Find your joy where it lives.

6 thoughts on “FOMO and Pressuring Ourselves to Like Something

  1. This needs some kind of Venn diagram or something: people who are engaged with a thing, people who aren’t engaged with that thing, and people who follow one another because they enjoy the quality of their interactions.

    I’ll write a comment, but I really think it should be its own post: on social media, we’re there in large part for the interaction, but when everyone else is going on about A Thing, it might feel like the only interaction we can get from them is through That Thing since it OBVIOUSLY is what they are focused on right now. Sometimes maybe if we don’t feel like we’re on the same wavelength then we don’t have anything to bring to the conversation. When a REAL BIG THING happens and our feeds are just overwhelmed with people talking about A Thing (WoW Xpac, New World, FFXIV, etc), then our feeds become far less useful unless we’re taking part in the zeitgeist.

    Playing what YOU find fun is always the mantra, and I think that if we’re open to jumping into the FOMO fray then there’s something about That Thing that we haven’t COMPLETELY written off. I’ve always liked FFXIV, so I felt comfortable signing up again now. But I really disliked Hades, so I am immune to that one.

    It also might just be changing tastes. For the longest time I’ve not been playing anything. I’ve jumped into a few low-key, single player games but those have been by-the-hour interests and not long-term. My ongoing singular focus is and will continue to be Star Citizen, but I don’t talk about that. I’m not as excited about MMOs as I once was, and I recognize and accept that. My return to FFXIV is really less about MMOs or FOMO, and more about something to fill in a few gaps here and there and was made possible just because of it’s visibility in my social circles. Hell, I’ve thought about Fallout 76 as well, since it’s been mentioned more than a few times in my feeds recently.

    1. Yeah there are times when some topic is so prevalent that you can’t hear anything else or get a word in edgewise. When the FFXIV expansion pack launches, aliens could land on my front yard and give me my own spaceship to fly around in, and if I told Twitter that no one would even notice in amidst all the mmo expansion chatter! 🙂

  2. I feel the same about New World. I also kinda feel bad that I was playing and raiding in FFXIV for years, but nobody cared until someone else jumped on board, and suddenly it was okay to play the game. But I watch people. They jump on a new game and then, pretty soon, crickets. Crowfall was the latest one.

    The community of a game is separate from actually playing the game — you’re part of the Animal Crossing community in some sense, in that you know about it and can talk about it from that position of knowledge. All I know about it is that someone redid the musical Hamilton in it.

    Once upon a time, there was a game called Warhammer Online in which I had little interest. I really knew nothing about it besides BEARS, BEARS, BEARS. But I thought it would be funny if I wrote up a bunch of “How To Play” guides for the various classes in the game — “Straight Talk Warhammer”. I had a lot of fun and didn’t even have to play the game!

    1. Yeah! I know that feeling too. I always want to say “I was raiding in FF XIV before it was cool” with a dismissive and haughty sniff to punctuate. 🙂

  3. There’s also the inverse. Sometimes _I_ get excited about something, but I don’t talk about it because no one else has mentioned it ever so I figure that this is not A Thing on my community’s radar, so why bring it up?

  4. I kind of go both ways. I write about whatever I want even if no-one else seems to care or even know it exists but I also write about things I’m not particularly interested in per se so as to join in the conversation. There’s usually a way to hang the post you want to write on the peg of something someone else wants to read.

    On the positive side, I quite often end up playing or watching something i wouldn’t have bothered with because it’s all anyone else is talking abouot and then it turns out i really like it. Valheim was one of those.

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