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Recently I learned that I never completed ending E, one of the 26 endings in NieR: Automata, which is apparently considered the official ending. Of course with the discovery that my current favorite game of 2017 has some key unplayed elements, I immediately started playing it again to experience those key unplayed elements…right?

No. I think I have a problem. And this problem may have to do with fear.

Transcript(ish)

Hey Future Caleb, have you finished NieR: Automata yet? I mean really finished it. Because just last week Present Caleb was talking about how much he loves this game, that it’s better than Breath of the Wild even. But then, that very same Present Caleb, me, learned that I never completed ending E, one of the 26 endings in NieR: Automata, which is apparently considered the official ending. It would seem then that this video I’m recording now is self-defeating, because of course with the discovery that my current favorite game of 2017 has some key unplayed elements, I’d immediately start playing it again to experience those key unplayed elements, thus making this video unnecessary. But here I am, asking my future self a question that shouldn’t logically need to be asked, because of course you’ve finished NieR: Automata…right?

No. I think I have a problem. And I’m wondering if any of you present viewers out there have a problem too: When I stop playing a game, I generally stop for good.

But why? I could blame my tempting backlog–so many games with so much potential–but that excuse falls apart quickly. Not only has my first post-NieR: Automata attempt, Jotun, already ended (and not by completion but by the game simply being weak), but the idea that a person can be dissuaded from a known good experience by an experience with an unknown quality is, seemingly, flawed. If the grass is already green on my side of the fence, and I know it’s greener than just about every other patch of grass I’ve ever played on, why even look to the other side?

I used to say that the only thing better than finishing a good book is starting a new book. Perhaps my aversion to re-engaging with NieR: Automata is just that. This would explain why after dumping Jotun, rather that go back to NieR: Automata, I started another backlog game: The Last Guardian. For what it’s worth, I’m having a great time with it.

But the allure of the new trumping the track record of the old seems too simple. If that were the universal case, why wouldn’t I have switched from NieR: Automata at any other point during my playthrough? Why not start a new book after finishing just one chapter of a current book, right?

So, maybe it’s the hunt. I want to relive the exhilaration that comes with experiencing an epitome of form like NieR: Automata. And unless I’m actively searching for that experience, it will never come. Sure, NieR: Automata is amazing, but what if Jotun was just as amazing. It’s not. But for the duration of that first loading screen, I could dream.

So is that it, I’m just chasing a high? I don’t think so. And I doubt you, Future Caleb thinks so either. In the future you have everything, yet you still play video games. All drugs are legal, all food is tasty and healthy, and all of the forgotten geocache stash containers left over from the short-lived 20-aught trend of people actually going outside to do stuff have rusted away and leached chemicals into your water supply that allow you to fly…somehow. Your grass is so, so green, Future Caleb. After All, in the future, everyone’s grass is legally required to be a pure spectral green being no more divergent than a chromaticity value of .0547 x .4832 according to the CIE 1931 standards. So, your grass is very green.

I think my hesitation to jump back into NieR: Automata is…fear. I fear the muscle memory and button map logic will have faded from my hands and head over these lapsed days. And without the skill such memory implies, and without the excitement of an unknown story unfolding before me, I may not have fun. And if I’m not having fun, was the game really that good when I first played it. Even more, can a game really be good, if it can’t be fun during a second playthrough. Now I’m questioning my ability to analyze a passion, and as evidenced by this very video, I like analyzing things. And If I can question the impact the game had on me so soon after having played it, then what’s that say about the game? What’s that say about me and my mental capacities?

It’s like the opposite of Nostalgia. Nostalgia highlights the good times of the past while dulling, and even eradicating memories of the bad times. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense. Fond memories of the past allow you to imagine a good future to come. Nostalgia is what fuels hope.

But what I’m encountering is not so much a confidence in what happened long ago, but a fear of being confronted with a lack of confidence in what happened very recently. I’m scared to play NieR: Automata again because I’m scared of questioning my own brain, of questioning my own experiences.

I know–or I think I know–that logically all of this worry is crazy. I’ve been taking antidepressants for over ten years now, and though medication has curbed the paralyzing nature of depression, I can still recognize the thought patterns. Potentially having my negative thoughts affirmed–for instance, if my muscle memory has faded and I’m no longer good at NieR: Automata–is absolutely such a pattern. It’s paralyzing. No matter how much I tell myself that even if the game turns out to be not as good as I remember that I still had a wonderful 35 hours of gameplay, those 35 hours mean nothing as soon as I have one minute of unhappiness. Before antidepressants, replaying a game after any hiatus would be unimaginable. Now, with the help of antidepressants, the thought is daunting, sure, but it’s manageable. I’ll probably jump back into NieR: Automata…eventually.

I did some research and found out that this fear of disappointment is in fact related to depression. I’ve included, in the description below, a link to a short article that touches on this idea.

For you current viewers, do you ever hesitate to re-play a game you loved? If so, is it for the same reasons I mentioned above? If not, why do you hesitate?

Please like, subscribe, and click the Bell icon to make sure you don’t miss future videos. I’m trying to get the average views per video up to 100 by the end of the year. Sharing this video with your gaming friends helps a lot toward that goal. And if you are still watching this video, you obviously like it, right? So, please share. You’d be making a medically depressed video game nerd happy.

Thank you for watching.

And to you future Caleb, tell those neighborhood kids to stay off your very green lawn!

Research/Sources/Credits/Inspirations (this is not a comprehensive list, as that would be impossible, especially the “inspirations” items)

Is Fear of Happiness Real?Research reveals why some of us are afraid of happy events.

Music Credits

8bit Dungeon Level Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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