From April to June, I was basically in a state of electronic impotence. Simply put, I lost interest in all games. I felt like I could see through the gameplay at a glance and there was no novelty. Once I entered a game, I just wanted to quickly complete the tasks. If I encountered a little puzzle or got lost in the game, I wanted to quit immediately.
Connecting the controller and opening the game seemed to drain all my energy. When I saw the game loading screen, I had an overwhelming urge to escape. When I actually entered the game, as soon as I encountered a little difficulty, I felt mentally exhausted and found the perfect excuse to quit.
However, I have gradually overcome this feeling recently. There are many articles and videos discussing electronic impotence and criticizing the serious homogenization of games, but there are very few on how to overcome electronic impotence.
So let's review how I overcame electronic impotence.
First of all, I have to thank (complain about) XGP. I think it is the main reason why I haven't played games for several months.
I have to say, after I got into XBOX, there were just too many games provided by XGP membership , so many that I lost the motivation to explore. With the help of XBOX's Quick Resume, I can switch between several different games within 10 minutes. If I can't beat a boss in p5r, I switch to Horizon and drive a car. If I get tired of driving, I switch to FIFA and play some soccer. Then I switch to No Man's Sky and continue exploring.
It looks great, but in reality, constantly switching games wastes a lot of my energy. RPG games have a characteristic that requires continuous exploration and deepening in order to stimulate dopamine. On the other hand, racing, shooting, and sports games can quickly provide dopamine. That's probably why XBOX is particularly suitable for playing racing, shooting, and sports games.
So XBOX gradually became a launcher for Horizon, FIFA, and Halo 🤣
But one day, I found that I wasn't interested in games on XGP, but the ones on Steam had rave reviews, and I wanted to add them to my wishlist and buy them to enjoy.
The reason behind this is that the games in the XBOX store have a terrible community, and simply reading the game descriptions doesn't interest me at all.
I once came to a conclusion that any product, only when you participate in the community, contribute content, and interact with others, can you truly integrate into it. For example, xlog (what are you waiting for if you haven't registered and published articles on xlog 🐶).
A platform without a community makes people feel boring and lifeless, lacking a sense of familiarity.
On the other hand, Steam, with player reviews, descriptions, videos, and live streams (although not necessarily watched), makes you deeply feel that it is an interesting community and the game itself is interesting.
There is another conclusion I read in a book before, which is that literary works have three levels of understanding: the author's understanding when writing, the reader's understanding when reading, and the reader's understanding feeding back to the author's understanding. This is also true for electronic games.
In Don't Starve, we can recreate the tranquility of Peach Blossom Spring, making the dangerous unknown world peaceful. In Hifi Rush, we can dance with the music and lead our companions to defeat the main villain. In Persona 5 Royal, we can go back to high school and experience a sweet romance. In The Last of Us Part II, we can experience the crisis of survival in post-apocalyptic America and feel the trust of our partner.
This is the charm of games, the initial motivation for us to play games.
I mentioned dopamine earlier, and I recommend reading the book "The Dose of Greed" which defines it as follows:
This anticipation and obsession with "what's next" is called "reward prediction error." We are constantly predicting what will happen: what's in the blind box, what's the next short video, will we receive a birthday surprise...
The actual event triggers a material action as long as it is better than our expectations. The secretion of this material does not come from "happiness" itself, but from the excitement brought by unexpected good news.
This is dopamine, the primitive motivation implanted in us. American psychiatrist Daniel Lieberman bluntly stated in "The Dose of Greed": "Without dopamine, you won't make any effort."
Overcoming electronic impotence is essentially about having a preconceived notion of what will happen in the game, such as knowing that the boss of a certain level is difficult to beat, or that the gameplay is the same, or that there is a lack of freedom to move around.
However, there are multiple ways to get dopamine from playing games, and I often narrowly understand that only novelty is important. Once the novelty wears off, I feel like I'm just working in the game, imprisoned, and it becomes extremely painful.
So what are some ways to explore new unknowns? I have summarized a few:
Learn to analyze games#
For example, my favorite card pigeon game "Slay the Spire" has a lot of strategy behind deck building. When to discard cards, when to upgrade cards, which relics to choose, and which path to take.
Another example is Klei's "Oxygen Not Included," which is like a dream come true for science students (a strange analogy, but it adds 🤣). The game is so vast that you need to constantly refer to the wiki. Similar games include Civilization VI, with its 4X game design philosophy, and Gamker has great analysis. When you understand the game's design, you will be amazed by the creativity of the developers. Some inconspicuous details in the game, like the animation of putting on clothes in "The Last of Us Part II," make you realize the huge development cost behind it.
I used to not care about achievements at all. I just wanted to play the game, and achievements seemed like an unnecessary addition. The idea of deliberately grinding for achievements was unimaginable to me.
But when I started paying attention to achievements, I realized that many of them are actually interesting (although some are designed in a silly way).
According to the theory of dopamine, keeping a sense of novelty is important. So achievements can be seen as small milestones. When you discover a hidden achievement and work hard to unlock it, you realize that achievements are not just an addition, but a kind of milestone.
By the way, I have to complain that the Switch doesn't have an achievement system! 😅
Don't be afraid to look for guides, as it is part of the gaming experience.
Playing single-player games is sometimes like solving reading comprehension questions. Your thoughts often don't align with the game designer's intentions.
So it often happens that you don't understand what a certain instruction means or what a certain guide is trying to do. When faced with these difficulties, it can be very frustrating.
But we often hesitate to look for guides, thinking that it will ruin our gaming experience.
Why worry? Even if an excellent game is spoiled, you can still experience the themes and ideas behind it in your own playthrough. Besides, there are a thousand Hamlets for a thousand readers.
So don't worry, feel free to search for guides when you encounter a difficult level.
Cloud gaming occasionally#
Here, I'm not referring to cloud gaming in the literal sense, but as a cloud player, cloud a game.
I used to dislike cloud players (apparently they have a bad reputation).
But actually, you can try cloud gaming. When you see someone playing a game poorly or come across an interesting comment in the barrage, you will feel motivated to play the game too (I really want to play Baldur's Gate III 😭).
In the end, all of the above methods rely on curiosity and self-drive to explore. The most important prerequisite is to have sufficient energy. Only with abundant energy can the stimulation of dopamine be effective.
If you continue to expand, isn't this the case for everything? Only when you start to change your mindset, rediscover the hidden meanings, explore, drive, reward, does dopamine start to work.
Work, study, life, love, socializing, everything is like this. As "The Courage to Be Disliked" says:
You dislike yourself because you are too afraid of interpersonal relationships, and you escape from interpersonal relationships by self-disgust.
You are unwilling to sacrifice the enjoyment you currently have in order to change yourself - such as playing or leisure time. That is, you lack the "courage" to change your way of life.
You are not afraid to do things, that's just an excuse. What you need is the "courage" to change your mindset, shift your perspective, and rediscover.