Saturday, December 02, 2006

Burnout schmurnout

I’ve been seeing a bit of discussion about gaming “burnout” on BGG and Speilfrieks recently.

I don’t think I have ever, or will ever, suffer from gaming burnout per se. Perhaps that is because I look at gaming with a wide scope or possibly wider timeframe. Also I have realised that certain games or styles of games have greater appeal at certain times during my gaming life and this is just a phase of gaming, not burnout.

Some of that appeal was possibly just that Game X was a good game at the time, but many better games have been released since then. For me a much bigger influence has been the amount of time I have to spend on games, both in total and in single sessions.

I find the time factor is generally driven by external factors, e.g. work commitments, are you single or not? Does your spouse game? Do you have your children? Has your regular opponent or opponents moved cities and so on.

Daughter the Elder is a bit over eight years old and as far as I can recall the number of single game sessions lasting over four hours, i.e. where you are playing a single game and expect it to take four or more hours, is two. Civilization and Die Macher with four newbies. We’ve had plenty of gaming sessions over four hours, but they involved multiple games with the ability to cut and run. In my book if you are sitting down to a seven player game of Civilization or Diplomacy then you need to be committing to the entire session up front.

Thus there’s a bunch of games that I haven’t played over the last eight years. I’m not burned out on them, it is just not entirely practical to play them at the moment.

I have also found that when the total gaming time is restricted, I generally want a bit more challenge, interest and/or fun for my gaming hour.

When I was a teenage and in my early twenties I could, and regularly did, sit down with a bunch of mates for a gaming session that would easily be ten to twelve hours long. When you know you have that much time available, it doesn’t matter so much that you may be spending a couple of hours doing nothing much different to bring the game to a conclusion. You are time rich. When you are time poor this can become a bit of an issue. I put Doom into this category that I like to call Teenage Boy Games. I played it a year or so ago and remember thinking that as a teenage I would have probably played it for days on end, but at this point of my life I could have played two other games instead and got more enjoyment out of that.

I have always played games. Card games with my Grandmother when I was young as well as various other ‘family’ games, although I am not sure what Escape from Colditz is classified as though. I then moved into RPGs and war games. War games started to slip away due to lack of opponents and time commitments. Then more RPGs, Euros and computer games. The arrival of Daughter the Elder cut back most of the RPGs, computer games and longer Euros.

As the girls get older I can see times when we will be able to book some decent periods of time and thus some of those longer games will come back into our lives - assuming not all our gaming buddies have babies :-)

I figure this must be coming up since I ordered a bundle of games from Columbia games last week. There are plenty of opponents at Gamers@Dockers (who are mostly childless now that I think of it) and they should all be playable in a standard evening session. It’s probably fanciful to think much of my old SPI collection will get dusted off, but in the next couple of months I should be able to add block war games to my gaming repertoire.

Another reason I don’t think I will ever burnout on games is I like to replay good games again and again. I consider our collection to be an investment for our retirement as well as a current playing collection.

I also don’t feel the need to rush out and buy every new game that comes out, even though some may argue that a 300+ collection is evidence to the contrary. I generally prefer to try before I buy, in cases where I don’t follow this I have usually researched via GeekBuddy ratings and reviews first.

Now would Melissa prefer Hammer of the Scots or Rommel in the Desert do you think?

Mmmm meeples taste like…


Coldfoot said...

Work burnout, blogging burnout, Britney Spears burnout, Tom Cruise burnout, reality TV burnout, Lost burnout, Christmas burnout, exercise burnout, family burnout, internet burnout... but Game burnout?

That would be akin to nap burnout, or dare I say... sex burnout.

Sounds like some new-age nonsense to me.

Gerald McD said...

I'm with you, Fraser. My interest in certain types of gaming, or having the opportunity to play certain types of games, has changed over the years, and may change more in the future, but I don't expect to ever "burn out" on gaming. My wife and I played games even before we were married, almost 43 years ago, and we've been playing different games since then. When our children came along, the type of gaming we did underwent a significant change, and developed as they grew up. When our daughter got married and had children, our gaming style changed again, with our grandchildren. When we discovered Eurogames, it changed. Now, our son has a steady girlfriend who enjoys gaming, and our grandchildren will soon be 9 and 11 years old, so the gaming scene for us continues to change. In the past year, I did my first online gaming, but my interest in that has already lessened. I can only wonder what gaming style changes I will encounter in the future, but I'm virtually certain I'll still be playing games of some kind for as long as I'm alive.

Chris Farrell said...

I think using the term "burnout" is wrong. I think there is a general understanding of what "burnout" means ... you burn out on your job when you have to put in 80 hour weeks and feel like you are getting nothing out of it, but still have to go in again next week, all of which leads to psychological problems.

With games, at some point you decide you're not enjoying it as much as you used to, and you pick another hobby. That's not burnout, that's just moving on. It's pretty mundane, and we all do it at some point, at the very least when we decide that some game, style, or designer isn't entertaining us anymore.

I can see burning out on writing about games, or on keeping up with the forums on BGG, or running your game store or game company. But I think it would be insanely hard to burn out on actually playing games, just because very few of us have the opportunity to actually play enough games to hit that point.

Greg J. Schloesser said...

I'm with Chris on this issue. I can't see myself ever completely tiring of playing board games. Oh, there are some nights when I honestly would rather crash in front of the television, or perhaps go see a movie, but I don't ever see myself abandoning the playing of games.

Now, all of the other game-related activities -- writing reviews & session reports, browsing game related forums, etc. -- I have cut back on that a bit, particularly the browsing part. It is simply a matter of time and giving attention to other facets of my life.