Few things disappoint me more than being completely burnt out on my favorite games on an extended holiday weekend. After a long week of work, the weekend promises sweet relaxation and MMO fun time. But when you’re feeling burnt out, it can leave you feeling bored, restless, or frustrated that you’re spending so much time doing something you were actually enjoying. By understanding the causes, we can take steps to remedy the feeling and avoid it altogether.
Burnout Cause #1: Overplaying
Overplay is easily the most common cause of player burnout. The reason it is so easy to burn out this way is because we genuinely enjoy what we are playing and thus want to play it as much as possible. When a new expansion comes out, it’s unusually common for some players to request time off, sometimes even an entire week, to play the game. (Granted, that excuse might not be the one given.) Meals can be forgotten. Social or family plans may be cancelled. Maybe you showered yesterday and that’s “good enough”.
It doesn’t matter what game it is, but playing at this level of commitment and focus will eventually cause burnout if not kept in check.
Solution: Schedule Playtime and Prioritize Well-Being
As always, moderation is key. “Scheduled” playtime can feel like a chore in itself, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be seen that way. Make sure to take breaks every hour or two. Grab a snack, drink some water, and ask yourself if there’s another hobby you could be working on. Did you ditch a friend to play this week? Don’t let social relationships fall to the wayside over a game. In the wise words of Blizzard, “Bring your friends to Azeroth, but don’t forget to go outside Azeroth with them as well!”
Burnout Cause #2: Procrastination
Interestingly, one cause of burnout has nothing to do with the games themselves, but rather playing the game instead of taking care of other important tasks. It’s hard to relax and enjoy something when you’re mentally reminding yourself of all of the other things you should be doing. Constantly putting those things off and playing the game instead can lead to frustration that you aren’t enjoying it as much as you could be. It’s cyclical- You put off annoying tasks because you want to enjoy the game, but you’re not enjoying the game because of the impending doom of having to do the work.
Solution: Don’t Make the Game Your Priority
Our responsibilities as adults can’t take a back seat because we have a “day off”. We owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies, keep our homes clean, cook, prioritize the raising of our children and their needs and wants, wash and get the car checked out, pay the bills- the list is endless. It’s a lot to handle, and it can be difficult, but in order to be able to truly relax and enjoy the game, the “adult stuff” has to come first. It may leave little time for actual play, but that time you have will feel much more rewarding when you know you’ve handled yourself and taken care of your family/pet/home.
Burnout Cause #3: In-Game Responsibility
Making yourself readily available to everyone who plays with you is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out quickly, the same as it would be making yourself readily available to every beck and call at work. Game time can shift heavily from what you feel like doing or what helps you relax to what everyone else wants to do, and it can begin to feel like a chore.
Solution: Take Time for Yourself
Do you have a weekly raiding schedule? If so, take any remaining days that you play for yourself. Work on a profession, level a new character, or try something new in the game on your own that you haven’t tried before. Shut out all of the outside factors influencing how you spend your time and truly relax. If you don’t raid, this can also apply to any dedicated play times you make with other people. Consider cutting down on some of those commitments if they take up too much of your time.
Take back your free time, you have earned it! Don’t allow your games to feel like chores. Analyze why you might be feeling burnt out on a particular game. How long have you been playing it non-stop? Is there something else that you should really be doing?
Don’t be afraid to put leveling on hold for a day or two while you get your affairs in order. The world will be waiting for you when you get back.
Join me on Twitch! Currently streaming Guild Wars 2 on Wednesday Nights at 9:30 PM EST.
Disclaimer: There are a variety of mental health disorders that can hinder the enjoyment of free time regardless of any of these variables. This article is not meant to offer solutions for those particular issues. If you are doing everything you can for yourself and still are unable to feel the enjoyment of games or hobbies you once did, please see a doctor and get medical assistance.