Recent financial reports from Microsoft and Sony suggest the gaming industry has taken a big hit in 2022. It has been suggested that gaming numbers are down by as much as 14% on 2021.
Despite global living conditions returning largely to some semblance of normality after the pandemic, gamers are struggling more than ever with their mental health.
Is it the gaming industry’s fault?
Many gamers in the community will raise the point that triple A game developers are now increasingly profit driven and less inclined to make new high-risk games with exciting new concepts.
Other point to the lack of blockbuster titles as the reason for dwindling interest in gaming. Either way, it seems as long as they have some kind of battle pass or loot crate system, the gaming industry are good to go. Maybe it isn’t the games that have changed but us instead?
In many countries, we were locked down during the height of the pandemic and only allowed to leave our homes to buy food and essentials. At first, all the time gained from commuting to school, college or work allowed many of us extra time gaming.
Playing online was the way we stayed in touch with friends and family. Gaming was our coping mechanism. For many, perhaps it stopped being fun and instead became a coping mechanism that isn’t needed now lockdowns are mostly a thing of the past.
Do we still need to escape from real life?
We often compare our gaming experience back to when we was young and games where much less readily available. I remember having to beg my mum and do extra chores around the house for a new video game if it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas.
The overwhelming feeling of rushing home to play your new game that you have been thinking about all day or running downstairs on Christmas morning to unwrap the new game you have been waiting months for.
These days it seems more like video games are used to escape reality from real world stresses and problems for a few hours but it is often a doubled edged sword as the more you do this and neglect real world responsibilities the worse it becomes.
Many people have reported feeling a sense of guilt when playing video games in their spare time now as they feel they should be doing something more “important” with their time. Is it just because many of us have transitioned into a different stage of adulthood during the pandemic where we now have more responsibilities? Possibly.
Have TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram impacted our attention spans?
There may also be neurological reasons behind why gaming numbers are dwindling. As smart phone and social media usage has grown, our attention spans have slowly become shorter and shorter.
For example, the evidence suggests that YouTube videos are becoming shorter to follow user engagement levels. Our attention is being divided more than ever before.
Tiktok, for example, allows users to consume hundreds of different videos in minutes and has a average watch time per video of only 3.3 seconds!
The habits developed through checking your phone will undoubtedly spill over into video games. By the time the game has even loaded, many of us are already looking for that next “thing” to consume.
How often do you find yourself waiting to respawn (a lot in my case) in a multiplayer game or in a load screen and you will pick up your phone and start watching TikToks or even be watching YouTube whilst you are playing a game?
Ways to fall back in love with gaming
As the old saying goes “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, if you are looking to try and enjoy video games more we suggest perhaps taking a break and trying another hobby.
This could be anything from rock climbing, playing the flute, drawing or even down hill cheese rolling (yes that’s a thing google it).
Research has shown that exercising for just 15 mins before playing video games can increase attention and decision-making speed.
Doing something different will stimulate your brain in new ways and you might find playing a few games can become fresh and appealing again. Bring your online friends offline where you can, but where you can’t, chat about what you’re doing beforehand.
If you’ve got a regular game night or you’re part of a team, perhaps limiting your time will be more effective.
If you aren’t open to or don’t have the option to try something new and want to stick to games, it is worth finding a game that gets you out of your comfort zone.
Pick a game or genre you have never played before and give it a go. There are hundreds of millions of games out there to choose from and I would bet that you only play a handful on repeat.
You never know, your new favourite game of all time could be out there waiting and you don’t even know it yet. Playing new genres also opens you up to engaging with different communities. Research suggests that by engaging with a more diverse group of people, our attitudes can change and shift over time. Ignore the old saying, opening your mind won’t make your brain fall out!
Summary: Has Covid 19 ruined gaming?
In a way I believe it has to an extent, many people looked to gaming for an escape from the stresses of life rather than a form of enjoyment like it was previously. The combination of the burnout from gaming in lockdown and shorter attention spans has led to many of us simply not having much fun in games anymore.
Not all hope is lost, try other hobbies and see what you enjoy, this break from gaming could be what ignites your love for it that you once had and enable you to identify why you found gaming enjoyable in the first place (social aspect, storyline etc).
Do not worry if you are feeling like you no longer enjoy games, you are not alone, there are many reasons that may be causing it and the literal global pandemic certainly hasn’t helped. If you want to join our community of like minded gamers as a space to hang out and meet new people to play with check it out here: https://discord.gg/MFaHqGMW