The Citadel from Mass Effect 2 against an starry, purple sky.

Finishing a really great game can sometimes lead to mixed emotions. While games can be appreciated more than once the realisation that a compelling chapter of your gaming life is over is still a hard one.

For every part of my life, there has been a great game running in parallel to my daytime. While I struggle on with the difficulties of the day there is always a game to lighten my evenings. When that game is over it leads to what I can only explain as my gaming blue.

How and why

I’m sure this isn’t a phenomenon unique to me. Sometimes the influence of a game can be so overreaching, so powerful that I find myself unable to move onto the other games in my gaming pile, it relates almost directly the mood created. The inability to wean myself from the environment the game has created for me leads to an almost pining need to continue exploring that world, making it difficult to move to the next game, sometimes days will pass before I can pick up another title in my “to-play” pile.

It isn’t always a reflection of the tone of the ending of the game , it’s not a sulking reaction to a soppy ending, or a jubilant stop. Happy ending or sad it seems to relate almost exactly to how deeply goal-driven the game is, how elaborate the world, how satisfying the combat is. Thinking back to those happy moments in my working day spent carefully planning my next gaming session, exacting the progress to be made – that stops temporarily, and its hard to pick that momentum back up.

A rollercoaster ride

If this happens I normally take it as measure of the games success. It doesn’t happen very often. Generally even with a great game the focus is to finish to move to the next one, to seize the moment of the current experience and chain another, maybe trying a different genre after the steady saturation of the last. A game that stops me in my tracks is rare, almost every game provokes enjoyment or moments of reflection. Few pull me out of my strong desire to play with such force.

The length of time spent on each game is certainly a factor. If weeks have been committed to a particular game, or days spent familiarising myself with the tiny little details no other game has; it becomes difficult to move onto something else. Our growing replay culture extends this feeling encouraging us to continue an enjoyable experience at the expense of our other, newer games.

Moving onto the next game

The most recent example I can think of is Mass Effect 2 – without discussing the detail of why (the reasons of which have been discussed in my post onΒ video game spoilers) The profoundness of Mass Effect’s story, world and character detail has made me reluctant to pick up another title out of sheer awe, but similarly reluctant to start another game of similar size and scope, I have a particular sort of dread about rebounding to another game to fill the void created by such an entertaining, enthralling classic.

I’m interested to hear about your moments of quiet reflection after a game has ended, which titles have most inspired your moments of gaming pause?

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