How Do You Break Out Of A Gaming Funk?

Illustration for article titled How Do You Break Out Of A Gaming Funk?

Today in Speak-Up on Kotaku, commenter Wocalax needs your help breaking out of a two month long gaming funk. How do you rekindle the love in your relationship with video games?


I haven't been hooked on game for about two months and it really bums me out.

I tried to res-park my love for FIFA last night. I didn't want to play all that bad, but I forced myself to put it on. When I was in the game it was fun, but then the unspeakable happened. My goalie punched the ball in my net.... The animation was all wonked out, the ball was 2 feet from his hand and it just shot into my net. Well then I got scored on again and turned off the 360, turned it back on, erased my career save and put the disk away.


Often getting a new game helps, but there aren't any games out I want. I don't know what to do!

What do you guys do when you are stuck in a gaming funk?

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Chris Coutts

Gaming funk, you say? Then take this opportunity to catch up on some great television on the air these days. Tens years ago, "great television" would've been an oxymoron in my books, but since the Sopranos paved the way and showed there's a large audience eagerly awaiting well written, acted and produced serialized dramas, there have been glimmers of hope popping up on basic cable and cable stations alike. I used to love, love, LOVE films - but frankly these days they can't hold a candle to the type of stories being told on television. Instead of a compact, quick-cut and wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am formulaic story of a 90 or 120 minute film, with television you have dozens of hours to really sketch out your characters and tell a much deeper and plentiful story, touching on many subjects of human interest. Movies just can't hold me anymore, and I find myself only able to enjoy the cream of the crop in terms of fiction. I can only stand to sit through documentaries now, but with that being said, on to some recommendations...

Of course, there is the Sopranos, which is a story not so much about the mafia - instead, it's one about family and careers, and what anyone must go through to manage all their separate lives within their life without completely losing their shit. The big difference here being that said individual heads la cosa nostra in Jersey. As a whole picture, the show is brilliant, and despite the controversy on how the series ended, it remains one of the best television series of all time in my mind. The show is very funny at times, and the final season (both parts) takes a lot of risks and really demands people take TV shows as seriously as movies by presenting very deep, insightful thematic elements into it, showing how multi-layered the program really is. Not to say the first 5 seasons were boring, I just think they relied heavier on conventional television storytelling techniques. If anything, watch it for scenes with Paulie. He's brilliant. This show'll make you re-evaluate just about every person in your life.

The Wire is a show that ran around the same time as the Sopranos, and while it was panned by TV award shows due to Sopranos out-shining it, many (abroad and domestically) firmly believe it to be the best series ever produced for television. With a five season coherent and unique narrative arc, the show is about urban life and all its aspects - from criminals working the streets, to the cops who try to put them behind bars, to the politicians and bureaucrats who wade through it all, to the struggling newspapers trying to make sense of everything and maintain a reader-base. The show is filled with memorable and relate-able characters from all spectrum's of urban society. Each season tells its own story, while still driving an overarching plot, and is one of the most compelling and revelatory dramas of our time. It may take you a few episodes to get a feel for the show, but once you're in, I'd be surprised if you weren't driven to see it through to the end and loved every minute.

More recently, AMC has been thriving in the great-television depeartment. The closest series with a gaming connection would be the excellent Walking Dead. I've not read the comics, and at this point I'll wait til the series is over to appreciate them, as I don't want them muddling impressions or expectations of the TV series. While the show has its flaws, like many AMC pilot series (aka ones that're 6-7 episodes long), they're simply setting the stage from grand ideas and adventures to come, I believe. Like much of AMC's original programming, the show prides itself on attention to detail and a realistic nature to it. If you liked Left 4 Dead for even five minutes, you'll get a kick out of this show... it's definitely one to watch if only to see how far they can go with the zombie apocalypse.

Mad Men, though, is AMC's big triumph and outstanding introduction to the world of serialized television drama. While lacking a lot of the in-your-face emotional and stylistic punch of the previous recommendations, it's a great show to watch if you're at all interested in history (especially post-WWII). Being a child of the 80s, it's a fascinating and very candid look back at the way the world once was, set amid the 1960s New York advertising world. Like any period piece, the show's real value comes in contrasting its themes and messages to today's world, but the show's writing is impeccable, and has the acting to back it up. It's more of a slow-burn, but it does draw you in and excels at creating a believable world and a cast of characters to fill them with.

HBO's latest entry in to the serialized drama ring is the exceptional Boardwalk Empire. Set in Atlantic City amid the alcohol prohibiton era of the 1920s, it's a great mashup of familiar series I've already mentioned. It has the scope and depth of The Wire in terms of how broad the story it aims to tell is, while surpassing the set and costume design of Mad Men to effectively create a period piece feel of the 1920s. It's loosely (how loose, I do not know) based on real people involved in crime and politics of Atlantic City, further grounding it in reality and making it all the more intriguing to watch unfold. There're some really big names attached to this series, including Mark Wahlberg and the brilliant Martin Scorcese producing the show (along with numerous writers/producers of the Sopranos on board), and has Steve Buscemi as the show's lead character, and who does a wonderful job in a role you're in no way used to seeing him in (even then, it takes a few episodes to really be convinced). It's only through its first season, but you can tell HBO has big hopes and dreams for this one.

After ALL of that... Breaking Bad is the show I recommend to everyone, no matter what sort of person you are. In my humble opinion, it's easily the best thing going on television these days, and episodes will stick in your mind months after seeing them. After a brief 7 episode pilot season (which should hook anyone with an appreciation for good storytelling), the show really gets going, and continually answers the question "where can they go next with this idea?" realistically and believably. Bryan Cranston has won 3 Emmy's 3 seasons in a row for his work at the show's central character Walter White, but I believe this program's near flawless from top to bottom. The directing and photography is brilliant - easily movie quality - as well as the writing. The acting is top notch and although subtle, this show has some of the most immersive sound design I've ever seen... really helps set atmosphere and mood, even if it is simple and minimalist for the most part. Easily the best thing on TV these days, and it's only on Season 4! Not since LOST have I been so consumed by wanting to watch "next week's episode." Fantastic stuff.

And these are just the DRAMAS! And not even all of them, at that (what about the Pacific!!?!) I could probably fire off half a dozen great comedy shows too, but we'll start here - because frankly comedy is a much more fickle thing to recommend.

And for the record... I loathe TV. I never sit down and watch whatever is on; bored to tears by every sport, news is largely bullshit and adverts dressed up as reports, and basic cable is largely just pure bollocks that only serves to amuse and distract people from bigger ideas, issues and problems (oh, and don't forget selling products. Lots, and lots of products). But there've always been real gems out there though they used to be far more few and far between. With the decline of the movie-going industry, I can only see more money being put into quality TV to sop up ex-theatre goers. Exciting times to be alive, I must say... as long as you don't think about how the global economy works. Or when/if we've hit peak oil. Or if you closely watch WTC7 collapse over, and over, and over again.