Most "relaxing" video games are not actually relaxing March 13, 2024 on Kenneth Dodrill's blog

My last couple of posts complained about gaming as a whole, and how storefronts are typically awful. Since I wrote that last one, I decided that I want to relax when I play video games. I don’t really care about difficulty anymore, I want to enjoy something that will be relaxing. I recently put hacks on a spare 3DS I had and installed various games. Pretty much anything with violence was out (I’m not sure about gore / violence in video games anyhow). Typically, relaxing (or “cozy”) games are farming games, or some kind of easy-going simulator game. I installed Tomodachi Life, Pilotwings Resort, and some rhythm games.

After playing some of each, I came to the conclusion that games aren’t really made to be relaxing. There are some video games that might relax you for a time, but I don’t think most games (even “cozy” games) are made for the purpose of relaxation. I would say that most games in the “cozy” genre are made for micro-dosing dopamine. These games all have micro-rewards for doing any kind of little action possible. There are some exceptions to this, but let’s move away from the 3DS and consider something like the App Store. How many games on the App Store are under a “cozy” genre and have in-app purchases and are designed to be addictive? Repeat this experiment across other stores like Steam and PSN and you will find a lot of these games (with perhaps less in-app purchases than mobile games).

With few exceptions, if a game is marketed as being “relaxing”, it is more than likely designed to be addictive and to give you quick hits of dopamine.

Thus, I have once again arrived at the decision that video games just aren’t worth my time. I thought this back in 2022 (when I took a break from blogging), but I feel like I have solidified it with these previous posts, thoughts, and experiences. If I can’t enjoy most hardcore games because of all the issues I listed in previous posts, and I can’t relax with video games…what’s the point?

I’m switching away from talking about games and / or game development for now. If you’re here for that: sorry. I will still be blogging! Just not about games.