Why Are Games So Depressing Lately?

The other day I was feeling kind of down–nothing major, just normal stressful life stuff–so I thought I’d jump on a few MMOs to escape reality for a bit. First I got on LotRO. I’m in Mordor and, well, it’s not exactly a cheery place, so that didn’t last long. So I logged off of that and thought I’d try Guild Wars 2. The character I’ve been running through the story on is just starting Orr… land of zombies, ruins, and undead dragon corruption. Not much better. The Elder Scrolls Online offered me a quest that involved a daughter murdering her father because he betrayed and murdered his son. Diablo III… well, everything’s depressing in Diablo, isn’t it?

I’m not looking for Rainbow Puppy Fun Times Online, but why does everything have to be so dark? There are even some games, like Secret World or Path of Exile, that I avoid completely because, while the gameplay sounds fun, one look at a screenshot or video is enough to tell me that I won’t last long because of the setting. So why do games get so depressing? I know I’m not the only one who has gotten burnt out on a game because they went from a starting zone that was colorful and cheery to one that was Fifty Shades of Brown. I think the idea is for the location to create a sense of desperate struggle against evil, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion has done a great job of telling a story of a desperate struggle in a place that is absolutely freaking beautiful. I used to log into Marvel Heroes at times like this. It was light and fun without involving much thought. But now that that’s gone I haven’t found anything else to fill that gap.

So what gives, game devs? Life is depressing enough as it is! Why do games have to bring me down too?

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4 thoughts on “Why Are Games So Depressing Lately?

  1. Note: LotRO totally gets a pass on this, because they kind of have to stick to Moria as it was described in the books. That’s one I’d complain about if it wasn’t dark and depressing.

  2. In times like this, what you need is Slime Rancher. Watching colorful slimes bloop and plort is an immediate mood lifter.

    Path of Exile is trickier, it may be worth exploring in a more neutral frame of mind. Yes, the setting and aesthetic is dark, but the freedom to build and gain in ludicrous power can be empowering if one enjoys superhuman feats of disintegrating packs of mobs across your entire screen in seconds. Caveat: it takes a fair amount of learning and not a few deaths to get to a point like that, so avoid when feeling down.

    But seriously, give Slime Rancher a go, it’s like bottled delight.

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