Lunchtime Discussion: Relaxation?

Right now my job is pretty stressful. I won’t go into details, but it’s hard work, tiring and making me pull my hair out. So when I get home I really just want to relax. What do I do? Well for a start I avoid editing the podcast, because that’s the exact opposite of what I want – but yes it is coming it’s about half way done. And then, generally, I avoid my 360 like the plague. I’ll stick on a DVD or play some new music, but I won’t play a game. Now for someone who writes for a gaming site this might seem a little odd, but I’m fundamentally lazy at the core so when I want to relax I want a passive activity and games (if you exclude the likes of Flower) are very, very active.

It’s not that I’m playing Wii Fit or something and having to move about to ‘win’ at the game, it’s that games require input from the player. Obviously this is what separates games out from other forms of media and it’s why we love them. Feeling that you are involved in the story of a game is obviously very compelling, but it requires you to pay attention to what’s going on. If I’m in a shooter I have to avoid being shot at, if I’m playing a racing game it’s probably best if I watch the track so I don’t spin out round a corner. These all require my attention and my input. That’s not what I want when I come home, I want to sit down and stick something on to watch or listen to read the content on TSA, flick through a comic book, talk to my girlfriend, eat, whatever. None of these activities I can easily do whilst gaming, hence I tend to reserve gaming for days off.

Of course there’s always the frustration, the moments best described on the InGameChat podcast as the “dammit slam” where you want to throw you controller through a window. Unless you’re some kind of super-human gaming machine who always spots the solution or where the sniper is – I’m looking at you djhsecondnature, no human is that good at games – you will have experienced these moments in the majority of games you’ve played. Whether it’s dying whilst battling Poison Ivy for the 20th or 3oth time, trying to master juggle combos in Mortal Kombat or simply not being able to score a single goal in FIFA 10 – all low moments for me – everyone has had one of these frustrating moments, moments that make you want to stop playing the game and possibly feed the disk to your dog. These are certainly not relaxing.

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So no, for me games are not a relaxing activity usually. I play them to be challenged or to have fun – not always relaxing – or simply to hangout with friends. But to relax? Give me the newest Batman comic or the latest CD from Bayside any day.

So what about you? Do you find games relaxing, or do you play them for vastly different reasons like I do?

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