So, it sounds a bit weird to say, but there is somewhat of a grieving process that comes with finishing a really good game – especially if you spent quite a bit of time playing it. You’ll start the game and get so wrapped up in it that you’ll spend so much of your free time playing it that when you finish it, you’re unsure of what to do with your life.
It seems that most avid gamers go through this grieving process at least a few times in their life after finishing one of their favourite games of all-time. Some call it “post-game depression” whereas others don’t really have a specific name for it. I know that just thinking off the top of my head that I was lost and somewhat sad after finishing The Witcher 3 and its expansions, after defeating the Legendary Dragon in Skyrim and more recently, after finishing Final Fantasy 15 and each of its available expansions.
The whole process actually got me thinking of the five stages of grief (also known as the Kübler-Ross model), which is generally associated with loss or the idea of impending death and how this model could possibly be applied to various other happenings in life. In this case, the non-serious activity of finishing a really good video game.
In my very own experience, the feeling of grieving after finishing a video game does fit the model in some ways. In fact, to me, the process very much goes like this:
This often happens that very moment you see the credits rolling across the screen. The game could’ve taken you months to finish or a couple of hours to finish; the main thing is really that you can’t believe that you actually finished it (sometimes for different reasons, but hey, we’ll get to that.)
Basically, the initial shock of actually coming to the end of something that may have taken so much time in your life is generally quite overwhelming. You may have been on the hype train for the game for months and spent all your possible free time playing it when it finally came out, in addition to constantly thinking about it when you should have been doing some real-world tasks that required your full attention.
The real thing here is that you finished the game and you’re just having a hard time accepting that you did, unfortunately.
In my experience, anger is a stage that doesn’t always occur. Whether it occurs or not, really is dependent on your experience with the game in question. Earlier I mentioned that gamers enter the denial stage for different reasons.
For example, you may have bought a new linear game at the price an average triple-A game goes for nowadays, only to finish it six hours. While the debate of whether hours of fun should be tied to the price of a game is a debate for another day, there is no denying that some people will be pretty damn annoyed at such a situation. I have experienced it myself, and it’s not fun, especially if you didn’t particularly enjoy the game (I’m looking at you, The Order 1886).
This is the sad stage of wishing you could go back in time so you could experience the game for the very first time again. You want to go through the trials and tribulations that made playing the game so much fun without the knowledge of knowing what’s coming.
Sometimes, this can be amended with significant downloadable content packs or expansions. When The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine expansion was first released, this satiated my need to play the game for a couple of more hours, but it did eventually come to an end like I knew it would, and I was back to wishing the game had more content coming along in future.
Overall, bargaining is just about either wishing that the game was longer or that they’ll add more post-release content to it that extends your overall gameplay experience.
This is when it all really starts to hit you that the game is finished and there is nothing you can do about it. You can play it again, but it won’t be the same as the first journey through it. Key plot twists, gameplay sequences, and feelings of triumph will be known to you and thus you won’t feel the same way playing through the game again.
You’ve finished it and it has changed you in ways that you never thought possible when you first started with it. And now, you’re just going to have to deal with the fact that you will never be able to relive the same journey, in the same way ever again. Man, it’s depressing.
Finally, you begin to accept the fact that you finished a really great game (or, sometimes a game that just wasn’t all that long.) You begin to realise that you will never experience this title for the first time again, but that’s fine because the experience you had was totally worth it.
The primary action involved in this phase is looking for a new game to play. While it may take you some time to get fully into it due to the hangover associated with the previous title, eventually you will and you’ll finally begin moving on. And then, the cycle will inevitably begin again. Such is life as a gamer.
Have you ever experienced post-video game depression? Which games were you sad about finishing? Please share in the comments down below.