I like playing video games, which should be obvious given I have an entire blog where I don't shut the hell up about them. Even when I'm disappointed in a game, I still enjoy approaching them as an anthropological artifact worthy of study, looking into what draws people toward liking something that I don't.
However, one of the drawbacks that come from looking at games from such a high-level point of view all the time is that it's hard to not always see the man behind the curtain, so to speak. The older and more jaded I get, the less I've come to see games as the objects of wonder they were to me as a kid, and the more I've come to see them as a bundle of mechanics that I've probably already seen before.
When I was a kid, I didn't know what hit-stop or revenge values were, I just knew that Kingdom Hearts 2 was the greatest game ever made because I got to hangout with Auron and call Hades a clown and cut buildings in half with a Keyblade. I didn't care about the difference between 3D or top-down Zeldas, I just played them all because every time I got to control that funky little twink I knew I was going to have a blast. Pokémon wasn't a vehicle for instant debate with whiny babies online, it was an incredible journey where I climbed Mt. Silver and got goosebumps from a piece of media for the first time.
Obviously, some of this is nostalgia. And it's not a feeling I can actively capture, but will probably feel in the future for games I'm playing right now. But there's definitely a disconnect that comes from the fact that most games are nothing new. And I don't mean that as a bad thing! Just that the more games I play, the more it takes to surprise me.
Usually when I hit that level of unsatisfied with the games I'm playing, it means it's time to take a full-on break from the medium for a while. Despite talking about games more than anything else, I do have other hobbies, and it's nice to indulge in them more fully. Read a couple books, make some music, or even work on my own games, and I'm usually back to feeling more immersed in the games I was playing before. Sometimes I'll boot up a game just to fill up the free time, even if I'm not super interested in it. I'd rather use that time for something else that truly engages me.
Another way I've found to keep the medium fresh is to find multiplayer stuff that I can enjoy with friends. It's a lot harder to be hypercritical about a gameplay loop when I'm too busy spamming the "Rock & Stone" button and giving the homies workplace tea. (As a sidenote, this is just an example - Deep Rock Galactic is the perfect game)
In retrospect, this is probably a silly "problem" to have, but I'm curious anyways: do you ever have trouble turning off critical brain and just enjoying a game for what it is, or am I being a weirdo? If you do, what do you do to keep things feeling fresh? Let me know!