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.