I Was Just Three Dev Cycles From Retirement!

It’s easy to blame it on age and the act of growing out of certain interests, but the truth of the matter is most people get burnt out from gaming. It’s not just players—it’s also developers. One day someone who used to play a game daily like it was a matter of life or death will end up not touching it for months.

If it sounds like an ill-fate, don’t worry too much. Surprisingly, it’s not as big of a deal as it may seem. It’s actually a pretty common occurrence, and one that can be overcome. It should in no way reflect how someone feels about games, although it is a possibility, in certain circumstances. Some players never touch a game again, while others build a certain disdain despite still gaming.

However, for the most part, especially for those in development, burning out is a temporary symptom of a gaming overload. While there is a chance that it could be the end of an era, it is not always the case. Players are tolerant and determined, strong-willed and courageous – they don’t go down easy.

The following are five methods of overcoming a burn out. Please note there are many other solutions available, but these are some learned through first-hand experience:

Accept Time Restraints & Work With Them

If you’re in development, chances are you work some pretty long hours. Between errands, having a social life, work, keeping your place tidy, and somehow finding time for yourself, gaming sits at the bottom of the list. If you’re working on games, you might feel like your gaming time is when you’re working. It’s easy to make that connection when you work on games for a living.

Rather than try and fight this, it’s best to work with the time restraints. Nothing forced is genuine. If you find yourself with ample free time one day, it’s OK if playing games is the last thing you want to do. There are many alternatives, like reading a book, going out with friends, or catching up on things you haven’t had a chance to do in a while. It might seem counterproductive, but by focusing on all aspects of life, you essentially satiate your needs. It makes relaxation easier, which means it makes gaming a real possibility again.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take A Break

To further drive the point home, taking a break is perfectly acceptable. Just because a player decides to take a break from gaming doesn’t mean he/she will never touch a game again. If that passion is deeply rooted, if they’ve been playing for as long as they can remember, there is a high chance that they just need a little breathing room before going back.

If you work in development, then taking a break is almost mandatory. Working on games means constantly seeing all aspects of the game—forward and backward, inside and out. Developing tunnel vision is inevitable. This means that by playing too much on your downtime, you may be speeding up an overload.

Nuclear Explosion - BSM (Source: Wikipedia Commons).

Nuclear Explosion – BSM (Source: Wikipedia Commons).

Focus On Your Game For A While

Development makes people crazy. On one hand, it’s exciting creating a game, having fun, being an artist. On the other hand, it’s tedious work depending on what you’re doing, and extensive in terms of time commitment. For the entire duration that a game is in development, people working on it are very much dedicated to that game specifically. If they have the chance to pick up another game for leisure, it takes far too long to complete. That means it’s not particularly enjoyable, because you’re so caught up in work that you’re doing. While you might enjoy a certain game, you won’t be able to appreciate it like you would if you weren’t working on a game.

This is why focusing on your game helps prevent burnout. It keeps you focused on what matters in the moment so you can better appreciate the leisure to come. Once the game is complete, there is downtime for all staff members during which everyone has the luxury to pick up games for leisure again and just be one of the players. It is at this point that it is refreshing to see gameplay that is not your own. All of a sudden, after months or years of seeing one solid game, and maybe even one scene over and over again, it’s refreshing to see something new just for the sake of entertainment.

Game Development - BSM (Source: Iwan Gabovitch, free to use, Flickr).

Game Development – BSM (Source: Iwan Gabovitch, free to use, Flickr).

Learn New Content

Speaking of focusing on your game, trying your hand at a new skillset during development is crucial. By learning new concepts, you gain a new outlook that can make games interesting again. For instance, if level designing is in order, don’t be afraid to ask if an extra hand is needed – even if you don’t have much experience. When it comes to development, the best way to learn is by practicing. There will always be someone there willing to teach you along the way.

Simply learning a new aspect of the game, or development of a game, helps encourage interest and exploration. Not only is your portfolio expanded, so is your curiosity for gaming.

Replay A Favorite

Sometimes a solution is as simple as reliving a fond memory. Every player has a few games that resonated with them and made them think and feel things that other games just don’t. A great way to battle burnout is to simply replay one of those games. Suddenly, flashbacks flood the mind of the player, emotions play off each other, and the visuals strike the same chords that they once did.

Gaming - BSM (Source: Radly J Phoenix, free to use image, Flickr).

Gaming – BSM (Source: Radly J Phoenix, free to use image, Flickr).

We Didn’t Start the Burnout

Burning out on games is inevitable and as common as any other right of passage. Whether someone is just a player, or a developer and a player, the time will come when gaming is the last thing on the to do list. Most of the time, it just passes, and people return to gaming, albeit with a new perspective. Perhaps they will see certain games in a new light, or view certain developers differently. However, there are instances where players simply put up their controllers for good. The best that you can do is try to relight the passion. The solution might be simple, or complicated, but if age really isn’t just a number, you might find yourself being a non-playing developer.