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Why Do I Stop Playing Games Once They Get Good?

Illustration for article titled Why Do I Stop Playing Games Once They Get Good?

I was playing Horizon: Zero Dawn one day, and I finally got around to doing this one story mission. How Horizon handles its big story beats is that it drops you in this area with all the holograms, audio logs, and text logs your heart could want, and you pretty much just absorb it all and learn more about what’s going on. I finally got to the top and learned some shocking information, ending my time with that dungeon.


After that point, I haven’t played for days.

The game drew me in, possibly more than it ever had before, and I just... stopped playing. It’s not even on my stand now because I’m trying to knock out Splatoon 2 and The Last of Us really quick, but that brings me to another story.


So I started The Last of Us almost a week ago. On the first day, I played it for around five hours, almost making it out of the city, but not quite. My next session, I played it for around half an hour, and I finally got out of the city. Unlike Horizon, The Last of Us didn’t end with a bang. There was a big story beat that I’d gotten to the session before, but everything after that was falling action. A few more baddies, conversations, and really just... dreadful swimming controls. I didn’t mention it in my early impressions because it was so short, but damn, there was so much wrong with those controls. Anyway, I finally got out of the city, and even though I had time left that I could be playing the game, I just stopped. I said it was so I could write only about my time in the opening city, and that was true, but then I haven’t played the game since.

I do the same thing with books and TV shows. I’ll stop reading a book when I finish a chapter, and I’ll stop watching a show when I finish an episode. I loathe stopping a game, book, or TV show when I’m in the middle of something, to the point where I often won’t play, read, or watch anything unless I’m absolutely positive that I’ll have time to get to the next stopping point.


That explains why I stop playing games even though I might have more time to play them, but it doesn’t explain why I don’t come back to them afterwards. I think that I might be afraid that whatever follows might not be as good. And if the game has recently gotten really good, that sends a signal to my brain that it’s nearing the end. Subconsciously, I think that might make me want to stop playing to make the game seem to last longer, but in reality it just makes me worse at the game for being away from it for so long, and makes my recollection of the story hazier.

I honestly don’t know what a solution to this would be. I guess I just have to play those games, man!

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