A Letter From the Absentee Editor

Written by Stephen Patterson

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I’ve thought about writing about ‘anhedonia’ for some time. Anhedonia is losing interest or not deriving fun from things which you usually would or always have done. It’s not an easy topic to write about, because admitting that you suffer from it suggests a number of other things about yourself: mainly that it’s a symptom of depression, or anxiety, or stress, or any other number of interlinking issues. It is however something that always crops up every time I think about something I want to cover in a piece.

My primary perspective on running this site/blog/podcast is that it helps me obtain a wider perspective through content, and then by extension, lets me share it with a few people who are interested in similar things – video games, narrative stories, characterisation, literature, and design (I don’t think I’ll ever not enjoy that connectivity with others through games). Something that the podcast helps me do is think about something new to try every single week, whether that is reading a book by Ian Bogost on game criticism (writer of Unit Operations) or playing Risk of Rain while on a train to see some bands somewhere. It’s not only the things I play but also the places I play them in, my mindset at those times and the moments in life they help define that makes consistently altering and progressing my knowledge of games something which I enjoy the greatly. I remember moving house 4 years ago because I hooked up my entire entertainment centre on the floor in an empty house to play the PlayStation 4 – it released the day I moved. That’s why I stopped playing things which ended up being largely repeatable and indistinguishable over time, for example Civilization, FIFA and Call of Duty. Those experiences are so, by their very nature similar throughout, that they blur together and it’s a lot more difficult to build strong memories and attachments to specific events and times with them. For me.

However, there is a downside to not having those constant fallbacks that almost served as relaxation spaces. The drive to consume and play (then present an opinion on) new content each month is stressful and feels like a constant race to find something exciting. Finding Dead Cells by choosing to play it before one of the more recent podcast episodes was wonderful, because it was engaging: I wanted to play it outside of just to talk about it here. Many of the games I played however I felt some sort of obligation to form an opinion on: not because someone listening asked or told me about it, just because the collective internet zeitgeist was doing so. I ended up with severe cases of FOMO and a sense that I was falling behind. NieR: Automata is a good example. I don’t particularly enjoy the gameplay but I like the artistic direction and liked the idea of the story, but there are many books which could have done a lot more for me considering I didn’t like the ‘game’ portion of NieR. So for now instead, I’m playing Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun and Starcraft, because those are games I have extremely fond memories of and do not need to talk about or justify. 

I digress. Sometimes life gets in the way.

Anhedonia is something that is brought about by real life worry, stress, anxiety, and depression. It means that I no longer enjoy things that have fundamentally underpinned who I am for a long time, even if from an outside perspective it seems confusing and irrational to others. So for now, I’ll be continuing my break from writing and talking to find that spark again, and see where it leads. The website itself costs no small amount to keep afloat in terms of time and also for website registration costs and the like, so we’ll see what happens – for now CritCandy is still here to be used again in the future.

Thank you for reading and listening.


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