When I’m asked about what games I play, I always add the caveat that I don’t play many action games. The excuse I give is that my reflexes aren’t very good. And whilst that’s not exactly a lie – my reflexes really aren’t much to shout about – it actually obscures the main reason I’m not a fan of playing action games, which is that they stress me out. A lot. And I hate being stressed out.
In case you weren’t already aware, I’m a pessimist. In my day to day life this translates into me suffering intense anxiety about things not working out. I’m very future orientated, and I spend the majority of my time making plans, finding reasons why the plans won’t work, and then trying to push through the negativity. When things do work out, the relief is unbelievable. And receiving any kind of affirmation or confirmation is like an avalanche of joy. Seriously.
So what has this got to do with games or, specifically, the types of games I avoid playing?
I relate too much to the game protagonist’s suffering. I hate consuming other people’s suffering as entertainment – but when I’m responsible for that (fictional) person’s suffering? It’s all too much. And I have actual physical reactions to the responsibility of making sure my (fictional) character doesn’t (fictionally) DIE: when I play a game that contains any form of jeopardy at all (hi, Dewy’s Adventure) I make a point of pausing and getting whoever I’m with (LOL – that’ll just be Adrian then) to feel how cold my hands are. Even if my platforming is lackluster, at least my hands never fail to impress -_-
Action games in particular also trigger a kind of existential crisis: what’s the point of all this? To have fun? How is this fun? What kind of masochist would find any of this entertaining in the slightest? The worst part is that my pessimism is laced with fatalism: nothing will work out, and everything will go wrong…eventually. Even if I make this jump in Super Mario Galaxy, I’ll inevitably miss the next. And if I fail one challenge I’ll probably fail every other one. It’s vicious.
And don’t get me started on people who say “it’s a learning process” – bruv! I don’t want to learn, I want to be good at things right away – classic over-achiever syndrome. Although I hate that I give up so easily, even if it is to avoid feelings of failure and anxiety. There are so many great games I’m missing out on because of my pessimism. There’s a troll – a game troll, you might say – behind the sofa, constantly whispering: “you’ll never be a seasoned gamer, never be able to pick up any game and breeze through it”… I wish I didn’t care!
That all said, I really enjoy watching action games being played. When another person is responsible, I can sit back and be entertained without having my hands turn blue, my heart pound in my throat, or my stomach hurt from the anxiety of it all. I guess that means I’m not just some wonderfully humane person with overactive empathy issues.
Regardless, advice would be welcome. Dig me out of this hole please.