The art of not playing

Have you ever been so excited for a game, so… exuberant?  You’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity for this game to finally be released.  You’ve read everything about it, watched all the videos online, partook in discussion forums until the day finally arrives.  You have that shiny new game that you’ve been waiting for in your hands now and it’s time to play.  Then within hours, that excitement is gone, you feel unenthused and disappointed.  The game goes to your shelf where it will sit for a long, long time.

We’ve all experienced that at some point or another.  It’s that game that you simply can’t wait for and turns into a complete let down.  Or, if not a let down, it simply doesn’t hold your attention.  My recent venture through this was Final Fantasy XIII.  I’m not a hardcore Final Fantasy-er, but I do think it’s a fantastic series, at least from the installments that I’ve played.  After being sourly disappointed with Final Fantasy XII (it just wasn’t for me, too much MMO resemblance and bland story), I put it away and waited to see what Square-Enix would come up with next.

When the announcement for Final Fantasy XIII came, it was time to get the hype train going all over again.  For a few years, I’ve read what I could, looked at some media online (I really wanted to not spoil it too much), and all that accompanying jazz.  I was hooked on what Square-Enix was feeding me.  This game was going to be a complete turnaround from Final Fantasy XII.  It was going to feel like a classic Final Fantasy, carry those classic Final Fantasy cliché stories and have a unique combat system that wasn’t so…  MMO’ish.  Just from seeing the characters I believed this was going to be a return to greatness for me.

So, all the hype came and with it carried the great reviews.  I even wrote my impressions on it on this very blog.  I liked it, for the first bit.  But then something happened.  I just felt incredibly bored.  Whenever I would go to play it, it just felt more like I was pushing myself to do it instead of wanting to do it.  That’s a bad sign right there.  So after playing for 15 hours or so, I put it down and never got around to playing it again.  It just couldn’t hold my interest.

I’m not trying to bash the game.  It’s a top-notch developed game from Square-Enix.  But I guess I was just looking for something a bit… different.  Maybe my age and love for nostalgic values kept me from enjoying it.  I’m not sure but whatever it is, it just didn’t work for me.

The whole point of this is that I’m sure we all have our stories we can share about games that we were so excited for, only to let it gather dust in our shelves after a bit.  But I want to say, it’s alright my friends.  These things happen and you shouldn’t feel cheated out of the game (unless the game was seriously shit).  This is just something that occurs and it’s alright to Not Play.  In fact, don’t throw the game away (who seriously does this?) or sell it off, keep it in your collection because that was a game that you highly coveted and although it didn’t work out for you, you never know when you may get an urge someday to go back and play it.  Or perhaps wish that it was in your collection if you’re a collector.

The art of not playing is a true statement.  Maybe it’s a bad time in your life and the game just isn’t working with you.  Maybe it never will.  But maybe on some rainy day, there’s nothing going on and you decide to give it another try.  But this time, it completely flows with you.  This has happened to me with many games, including Final Fantasy IX.  It was five years later when I started playing it again.  It turned out to be fascinating and one of my favorites in the series.  On a more recent attempt, Mass Effect.  I bought the first game and put some time into it but I just couldn’t get involved.  Fast forward to this year, Mass Effect 2 hits and it looks amazing.  I dust off Mass Effect 1, start playing, and ended up absolutely loving the game even with its flaws.  This allowed me to truly experience and love the Mass Effect universe all because a few years earlier, I decided to walk away from a game that wasn’t clicking with me at that moment.

So trust me on this, sometimes it is better to walk away and refresh yourself instead of sitting there and forcefully pushing yourself through a game that you aren’t enjoying.  That will only make it worse.  Maybe that day will come later on when that game that you were so hyped for and then let down by, turns into the goldmine that you were always hoping it would be.


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