July Is The Best Month To Play Video Games

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?

Goddamn.

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...

Relax.

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.


Comments

    Am I seriously such a rare beast?

    I live with my partner and work full time and I still have heaps of time to game all year round. I can easily get in a couple of hours on week nights and... Jeez... Probably 10 hours a day on weekends if I really wanted to.

      You are a rare beast! But be awesome rare beast, be awesome!

      I get back from work, go to the gym, cook dinner, watch an hour or two of Netflix with the wife, then off to bed. On the rare occasion that she has some work to do at home I can squeeze a couple of games in.

      It's not so much that I absolutely can't find the time, but that it would be better spent with her. It's a guilt complex. :p

      My weekends are usually more open, but between social obligations, side projects, education, and more wife time, gaming always has to take a back seat.

      It would be different if I were still that guy wot made games, but like an athlete past their use by date or a punk rocker in his 40s, priorities have to change.

      Thank god splatoon has three minute rounds!

        Three minute rounds?! That's so fast! How do you actually get to shoot any paint/ink?!

          It actually feels like plenty! It allows for a bit of back and forth in the middle, and a couple of big pushes and counters. The last minute even gets that stressful "last lap" effect from Mario kart, completev with more intense music.

          It's like if you cut all of the dead time out of a CoD match, you never stop shooting.

        Have you tried remote play?

        It's been a game changer for me this generation.

        You're wife will give you the eye the first time. But before you know it, you're both on the couch watching House of Cards - except you're also sailin' da boats in ACIV.

        Last edited 07/07/15 11:10 am

      Do you have children? That might take out a bunch of peoples time I'd imagine. Also do you have a live in maid/cleaner? :P

      I'm much the same, i don't get the issue... but then again i don't have kids thankfully.

      Hahaha yeah same boat, my fiance is studying law full time and works full time so most nights I can fit in 3 hours and 10+ on weekends, though 3 nights playing basketball takes up a lot of that time

      You sir are living the dream! Not to say I don't get time to game but it's at night - with four kids even when I get a free moment during the day they're usually then using the consoles!!

      Imo people who "don't have time for X" are simply not making the time. They have plenty of time to spend but prioritise other things.
      Nothing wrong with that, but the excuse annoys me.

    I have to agree. I've spent the last couple of weeks really looking at games I previously ignored. School holidays make it a bit of a bonus with the time you have to play.

    Trine 2- Not my sort of game, but it is absolutely gorgeous. Every screen is just plain beautiful.
    Marvelous Miss Take- Not good for marathon gaming, but great in quick bursts. Digging the charm.
    Darksiders- Didn't seem like my thing, but getting into it.
    Her Story- Play it. Stop being on the fence about it. Just grab it.

    That's just a few of the top of my head. Been really hard to resist the Humble sale, as they have a ton cheap that I want.

    Except if you're a niche gamer like me then you have Steins;Gate and Ar Nosurge on your list of things to check out. You'll also be hanging out for Suikoden III when Sony get their butt into gear and also be wanting to see what Skullgirls 2nd Encore is like later this month (Because EU...). Geometry Wars 3 drops this week on PSPlus too so that's a bit of extra pressure knowing how much of a time sink it can be. That's not to mention the surprise stuff that gets dropped without any prior announcement.

    July used to be a dry period for me but it's now filled with all the games that slip between the cracks left by AAA titles so it's turning out to be just as stressful. Ironically, I'm actually on a retro kick at the moment having just finished Suikoden II and Gungrave Overdose, then starting on Chrono Trigger and the Fear Effect series. But... new games are calling...

      I find that when you have games like Tales of Graces f, Tales of Xillia, Final Fantasy X/X-2, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns, Nier, Star Ocean Last Hope, Valkyria Chronicles II, Yakuza 3 & 4. Vagrant Story and Xenoblade Chronicles in your backlog (not to mention all the Atelier and most of the Neptunia series), you might get *one* game finished in July, assuming you can finish The Witcher 3 which you've already put over 100 hours into and have not yet visited Skellige...

    Ahh what a great article... *starts up Clicker Heroes*

    Great article. The anxiety is real!

    I also don't find Batman compelling, but I'm gonna delve into Dragon Age and The Witcher and maybe Dark Souls II this July.

    Am picking up F1 2015 this week though, so the dryness is not all-encompassing.

    I always struggle with these dry periods. There's an overwhelming level of choice and as dumb as it sounds I normally use release schedules to help prioritise. Now I'm looking at a pile of games I wasn't interested in enough to even start when they were released and there's no order to it.

    Certainly is a great article I can totally relate to buying a lot of games and never playing them, at least not yet. I was quite surprised that I managed to smash the shit out of batman in three days. First game I've completed since gta 5 on 360 came out. At first it was meh to meh then it went holy shit batman is awesome , then more meh specially with regards to the bat mobile, and finally ended on a holy shit high note.

    As for playing otherwise dis regarded games, friend of me gave me metro 2033 a few years back played a few hours and thought it was pants, bought and played metro last light and never got into it . Then went and bought the redux edition for next gen and didn't play that a lot either.

    Then started playing it a shit tonne since end of batman and erhmagawd awesome game so bleak but so good.

    See a pattern here

    TLDR

    finding unplayed games only to enjoy them later is awesome

    I just started The Witcher 3 last week. Aaahhh.

      Ha ha ha, it'll keep you going for a while if you want to complete everything. CD Projekt Red estimated about 200 hours!

      Last edited 07/07/15 4:28 pm

        Yeah, I'm actually counting on Dry July extending through to around February :P

    Ahh, apart from buying the new waves of amiibos it's been a pretty good month in which I limit my spending on games. Ive just started playing Destiny again and apart from the occasional RNG grinds and rep grinds, Im actually having a lot of fun. Im starting to play through the Dark below and house of wolves content and discovering that theres still quite a following with this game.

    Crucible is where im having a load of fun and also where im beginning to sympathize with the players who find Thorn annoying :)

    Being my birthday month, July is when I both catch up on & buy a whole bunch more games.

    Also, fuck Dry July, worst timing ever.

    Something that's been sitting in my head for a while now: "if they just randomly stopped making games for about two years, I'd be good." Thank god for dry July.

    My July involves:

    1. finishing Persona Q (about 50% done);
    2. finishing The Witcher 3 (about 50% done);
    3. finishing MGS4 (about 10% done);

    and then moving on to something new and tasty (from my pile of shame).

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