You're here. You're reading Kotaku. You probably understand this situation better than anyone. You're excited by video games. You see new releases on the horizon and you anticipate them. But beneath that veneer of enthusiasm lurks a layer of dread. Got time on your hands? You probably can't afford to buy video games. Got enough dough to buy every single new release? You're probably don't have enough time to play them.
Your hobby of choice is creating a weird anxiety in your sternum. You buy games and you never play them. You freak out because you won't get this game finished before this one comes out. Oh my god oh my god oh my god. There's even a catch-all terms for it. We all use it. 'The Pile of Shame'.
Shame. How did we get to the point where feeling ashamed is a recognisable part of video game culture. This shit is supposed to be relaxing. We're supposed to be kicking back on the couch. What the hell happened?
Then July comes along. Good old July. And for 31 days of the year everything feels alright. July is without a doubt the best month to play video games, the month when that anxiety evaporates. Just play the games you want to play. Like you're supposed to. Like you aren't engrossed in the cycle. Like you're detached from it. The noise fades. You're playing a video game. The video game you want to play. Not the video game you should be playing.
Ah video games. I remember this feeling.
Dry July. It's a beautiful thing. It's that dead space in the calendar, sandwiched between the absolute chaos of E3 and the lead up to the holiday period. In August brand new video games start to filter through and the silence is shattered, but July? That's the month. That's the month when...
Maybe I'll play that game I never got time to play. You know, the one that came out over Christmas? Maybe I'll delve into that JRPG that felt like too much of an investment before. Maybe I'll try and get good at some random online shooter? Maybe I'll finally try out League of Legends!
Alright chill Mark, don't get too crazy.
When I look back over the last three or four years, all of my favourite video games experiences happened in July. There was the time I decided to try World of Warcraft after ignoring it for the better part of ten years. I had an absolute blast.
There was the time I finally decided to play Dark Souls. I committed to it for the whole of July and fell head over heels in love.
One year I spent the whole month playing indie games on PC. Games I would have otherwise ignored. It was the best.
What am I going to play this month? I have absolutely no idea. Recently I've been playing a lot of Splatoon and — bizarrely — feeling guilty about it. I haven't put a dent into The Witcher 3 and can't find the motivation. Batman: Arkham Knight is the game I feel like I should be playing but I'm just not finding it compelling enough. I often feel like I'm forcing myself to continue. I'll procrastinate. I'll do household chores to avoid playing it. Strange. That's not what video games are for. Video games are the opposite of that.
Splatoon. I'm going to play a shitload of Splatoon.
But you know what: it's July, I'm gonna play whatever the hell I want. That's what July is about. July is the month of the year when you remember why you play video games. Cut loose from the hype cycle, unchain yourself from that weird anxiety-ridden loop.
July is the best month to just play video games.