We all had that one time in our childhood when games were extremely fun. We could easily spend hundreds upon hundreds of hours in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City simply roaming around the map, and not even touching the missions. But, fast-forward to today, video games no longer feel that good. We get bored with the titles pretty fast, despite all the advancements in graphics and gameplay mechanics. Whom are we to blame? Video game developers or someone else? You’ll find that out as we analyze why games are not fun anymore.
1. Repetitive Gameplay Mechanics
Gameplay mechanics have not changed in the last twenty years since the inception of 3D gaming. We still press WASD to move around the world, Space to jump, Left Shift to run, and click the Left Mouse Button to shoot. In the case of controllers, we rely on analog sticks and several buttons. These are rather standards set by developers that help players get into the content of the game as fast as possible. Otherwise, they would have to spend hours mastering whichever weird movement controls the developers have set for a particular game.
When we were young, we were in the second scenario. The controls were new to us, and it felt like every new game introduced a few more controls that we had never seen before. The excitement of finding out we can jump midair in this game has faded out, and it just does not feel that refreshing and adventurous.
This does take away a significant part of the fun. The industry has nothing to do about this as games need a standard key mapping and controller layout, and every gamer is going to exhaust finding the controls used by games.
2. Lots of Games to Choose From
When we were growing up, we did not have a lot of money to shove into buying games. Games have cost the same since the early 1990s. Back in those days, AAA titles were still priced at 60 dollars, and even in 2022, we are spending the same amount. Thus, saving up and buying that hot AAA title that all our friends have been talking about in school was far more difficult than today. When we got that new game, that was the only one we were stuck with for quite some time. Be it good or bad, we had no other way.
But, fast-forward to today, we have so much to choose from. Monthly subscriptions like Game Pass and Ubisoft+ are a thing. They give us access to hundreds of video games for a quarter of what an AAA game costs. Add to that Steam sales, easy access to pirated versions, and reputed gray market vendors, all reasons owning games is much more economic.
This means that if we are not satisfied with any game, we can easily switch over to other better titles and call it a day. This drastically reduces our patience to understand games and game mechanics as well.
3. Reusing the Same Game Design Elements
Game development has become vastly costlier over the years. Like any other human with fear, game developers won’t like the game they put millions of dollars to develop to fail. As a result, we get the same elements as armor crates, supply drops, battle passes, daily missions, challenges, and bounty hunting copied and pasted into the latest titles as well. These elements are loved by players and are market-proven to work. Thus, there is little chance for the game to not do well in the market. The developers are happy, the investors are happy, but no one cares about the players who play these games.
This has been a lot in the latest battle royale titles. If you have played all the big battle royale titles like PUBG, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Hyperscape, you must have noticed that most of these titles have a similar experience. These games feel like reskins with different maps, slightly different-looking weapons, and different operators.
This reuse of gameplay elements is rampant in other genres like FPS and racing games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Forza Horizon, and Need For Speed. All this contributes to a collection of similar but slightly different games in the market. This further reduces the fun we have from games.
4. Increased “Fun” Standards
As we have grown older, the standards of fun have increased with us. The same browser pinball game we used to have fun with when we were young feels too boring these days. All those days we spent in Tetris and SuperMario seem like wasted time. We seem to want the excessive eye-candy and Hollywood-like story progression and narrative modern AAA titles boast.
Modern AAA titles have increased our expectations too high. We have gotten used to those repetitive and extremely visually impressive games so much that indie studios get ignored. These days, only indie studios take risks with new gameplay mechanics or unexplored ideas. We have seen indie titles like The Outer Wilds and Hades push innovation, narration, and game direction to the maximum. Big studios do not take these chances, and thus the standards fall even more.
5. Hedonic Adaption
Hedonic Adaptation is one of the prime reasons we don’t have fun in games anymore. This concept states we are going to have less and less fun from a thing that felt great once. If we receive a certain stimulus that exceeds the previous levels of dopamine secretion from our hypothalamus, the neurons are going to increase the new baseline to the level of stimulus we are currently receiving.
This has been proved from the fact that a person who lost all of his limbs a few years back has reported the same levels of happiness as someone who won a lottery a few years back. We get habituated to the environment and situations around us. The same applies to video games. We get accustomed to what the new game has to offer and stop feeling excellent while playing it in the long run.
How to Fix Lack of Video Game Enjoyment?
The only way to solve this issue is to take a break from gaming for some time. Slowly, our neurons will go back to the original state of stimulus. We will no longer feel bored with the games that we enjoyed a lot a few days back. Shift to other hobbies for a month or so before coming back to gaming again. This will drastically improve the levels of enjoyment in games.