I've been dipping in and out of Untitled Goose Game and Link's Awakening on my Switch, and there are some new games on the Oculus Quest that I'll probably - possibly - have a crack at this weekend, but the thought of writing about them on here fills me with ennui.
Worse still, I've got Borderlands 3 sitting in its shrink-wrap, and can't face booting it up... and I've still not played Rage 2. The size of them is part of what's putting me off, but the familiarity is also a factor. I think I'm just a bit over open worlds, and sci-fi, and apocalyptic settings. I can't muster the enthusiasm to engage with them.
They don't seem to matter to me at the moment. It feels like an endless procession of identikit games and sequels, and I need a bit of air before I indulge in another.
It's not something I'm overly concerned about. I get this from time to time, and I know the cycle will come around again where I'm chomping at the sausage to write about games again, and losing an entire weekend playing them. Something will be released which gets me excited about their potential, and I'll find it impossible not to talk about them.
A larger part of my issue is - and I'm going to try hard for this not to become a "Please give me your sympathy" whinge - but I've had a really tough year. The toughest year I've had for the best part of a decade, and when a lot of real-world stuff happens, games somehow seem less important to me.
I guess it puts it all into perspective. Games, unlike more passive forms of entertainment, require more of me than I'm able to give right now.
I'm hoping this doesn't read as a catalogue of woe, because I don't think it's always healthy to splash your brain-mess all over the internet. It's something I hold back from doing generally - and when I do it's usually on my private-ish Patreon posts.
The minute you start doing it, and get sympathy back, it can become kind of addictive. There's a real culture of victimhood these days that I find troubling, and I'm a firm believer that we all need to own our shit, and that you're never going to get a long-term fix by sharing it and clamouring for the compassion of strangers. At best you might get a brief dopamine boost. At worst, it becomes your identity.
Plus, it sometimes feels kind of exploitative to me. Most people are inherently kind, and that rescuing instinct is in all of us. Lord knows that I have to work to suppress mine - it took the best part of two-and-a-half years of training to be a counsellor for me to realise that rescuing is more about the rescuer trying to feel better.
What's more, as hard as it is to see somebody who appears to be in discomfort, and not extend a helping hand, propping someone up with sympathy sometimes stops them from hitting the rock bottom they need to get reach in order to help themselves.
Anyhow... writing is kind of in my DNA. I work things out by writing. My brain is a lukewarm bowl of ADHD spaghetti - I tend to process on instinct - and writing forces me to get things down in a linear way. I overwrite, because I make sense of what I'm writing as I write.
And it seems overdue that I look at what's lead me to a point where games, currently, don't seem very important to me.
EARLIER THIS YEAR...
It started earlier this year with the death of one of the young cast members on one of my CBBC shows. It happened, rather horribly, as a very public news story, and I had members of the press trying to contact me for a quote, wanting to know all the grisly details.
Having already written scripts with her character at the heart of them, I then had to go through removing her from stories, and we had to work out how to address the character's absences sensitively in a show that's aimed at kids (all of whom would know the real story). It was a pretty grim task.
Since then, my uncle died suddenly last month (and it was me who had the unpleasant task of having to tell my parents). Then my sister's ex-husband - the closest I ever got to having a big brother, and one of the most important influences in my formative years - took his own life, bringing up a whole load of emotional baggage. Then recently my dad was hospitalised with a suspected heart attack (most likely because he was so upset over his brother dying).
Though it doesn't impact me directly - but just adds to the general vibe of 2019 - my best friend's father-in-law died this week, the day after my ex-brother-in-law.
On top of that, I've had a few other things happening, which haven't exactly been a ray of sunshine, Having three kids, and three step-kids, and elderly parents, and a huge extended family... there's always some reason to be worried about one of them.
Plus, as I'm sure I have moaned about already, I've worked harder in the past 18 months than I ever have before - and was very late in getting paid for most it, which added some extra stress.
Consequently, I'm just about ready to sleep for a month, and do as little as possible. The depth and involved nature of most modern games means I can't quite face them right now.
I'm pretty resilient. I mean, I've been through worse years. Even so, I'm at a point now where I'm looking at reviews and news on other gaming sites, and just thinking how pointless it all is. I don't like that I'm feeling this way, but gamers have a tendency to get so worked up about the smallest things that it's colouring how I feel about games as a whole; compared to all of the above, I couldn't care less about Diablo 3 or the latest Fortnite controversy.
I know gamers were always like this. I've written about games for almost 27 years, and since the day Digitiser launched we were getting contacted by angry, entitled, gamers.
They were mostly Amiga owners in the early days, demanding we cover their stupid, almost-dead, computer. When people say that entitled fanbases are a new thing, I'd like to draw their attention to what happened to Digi, where we had people writing and calling our bosses demanding we be fired.
Admittedly, we didn't help matters, because we'd call these people rude names, but such is the Digitiser way.
I understand that what matters to one person doesn't matter to another. I know that when some gamer gets up in arms about, oh I dunno, stuff... that to them it's life-and-death. There's a certain laser-focused blinkeredness which is rife in the gaming community, and I worry that for many people gaming is the be-all and end-all of their existence.
It's a replacement for a real life. They will adopt a cause, an issue - even a console - as their identity, and when that's threatened... it's sometimes why they get so madly angry. They can't see the bigger picture, because sometimes - for them - there isn't a bigger picture.
I do still have a knee-jerk reaction of irritation when it does occur, though usually these days, I'll at least try to take a breath and remind myself that I'm not inside their head. Most of us struggle to know ourselves, let alone other people. Alright, in the grand scheme of things I might not care much about, y'know, microtransactions in the new Mario Kart mobile game, but that doesn't mean it isn't legitimately important to some.
It does, however, make me feel a couple of steps removed from the concerns of most in the gaming community.
Since one of my kids was diagnosed with autism it's a condition I've become much more aware of. Yes, there's that old, woefully simplistic, adage that we're all somewhere on the spectrum, but we can never quite know how a person is wired. The nature vs nurture debate gets more complicated when you factor in just how many people might not be neurotypical.
I mean, take it from somebody who knows first-hand; some autistic people can be bloody scary. Upset an autistic person at your peril!
Even so I need to stress that this isn't in any way a criticism, just an observation based on experience. Some of the most interesting people I know are autistic. They view the world in a way that I find fascinating, and kind of beautiful. Yet since becoming more familiar with what constitutes autism, I see traits in so many gamers. And, in fact, tons of people in the public eye, and even friends and family members. I try to be more forgiving - or at least understanding - in those instances.
So, where am I going with this? I dunno really. It's a ramble of a brain-dump. What I think I'm trying to do is give myself permission to be off games at the moment, and not feel too guilty about it. Or not feel too guilty that I roll my eyes when some new games-related issue has people up in arms.
I'm trying to see it from both sides; just because this year has left me feeling as if games are kind of pointless and dull, that doesn't mean my point-of-view is more valid than those who remain rabid, passionate, or entitled.
There's already way to much thinking that our own worldview is the only one that's right.