I have to confess that I am a complete 40k nut. It's my release from the stress of the real world and I enjoy consuming as much of the game as I can. But I don't force it. If I'm not feeling like it, I won't make myself paint, blog, read or whatever. I prefer to do something else (there are other things, right? Right?!?), because I do not want my precious free time being taken up by something that feels like work or that I end up resenting. I do this because I've learned from my past mistakes.
My interests tend to go in long cycles. Before I got back into 40k, I was heavily into MTG (which is great!). But after a few years of intense enjoyment, things started to get a bit stale. I was playing and building decks out of habit but not really with the passion I had before. I ended up just doing it because I didn't really have anything else that I fancied doing at the time, rather than because I really wanted to. I eventually reached burnout – a point where I really couldn't stand the thought of playing or making a deck, I felt completely uninspired and detached from the game.
But I kept on playing anyway.
And then I really burned out.
Having had a break of a few years, I can now play occasionally for fun, but I no longer have the intense desire to make a killer rouge deck or try out loads of new combos. I dip into it when I feel like it and I'm happy with that. Perhaps I will return to my former all-consuming passion for the game, but equally, maybe I won't. I'm just going to see what I feel like.
I recently read this guest post on Imperius Dominatus by Adam from the Space Wolves Blog. Adam created and ran the site for years during the height of the 5th edition love with the crazy space Vikings, just as I was getting back into 40k. There was a huge amount of great content for me to devour, and really helped develop my understanding of how to make a decent Space Wolves army and had lots of cool hobby content too. Then the posts started slowing down, and suddenly stopped. For months nothing was added, and we were left with a big wolfy hole in the blogoshpere.
Some time later, the blog was re-launched in it's current iteration, purchased by another blogger who paid Adam to contribute occasional posts. And they felt forced. It was obvious to me (and probably many others) that sadly Adam had hit burnout, and was pushing out the content. Adam knew how he felt, but he just kept going anyway. Like with my MTG, he kept going until it was just too much, and the result is his farewell to blogging article linked above.
Wargaming, like any wonderfully nerdy hobby (I embrace this!), attracts a large spectrum of different personality types. I don't think I'm going too much out on a limb here to suggest that a large proportion of us (myself included) love to loose ourselves in the game, totally immersing ourselves and loving every minute. But I know I can become reliant on the escape it provides, and any other hobby or game doesn't seem as interesting or exciting. I've done it before with Diablo II, Morrowind, and MTG. But it can get too much, and whether through habit/addiction or choice, overdoing a game when you've actually had enough can lead to burnout and sometimes quitting the hobby that you once loved.
We invest a great deal of time, money, effort and emotion into our hobby, and it's not easy to put things in perspective sometimes. I think what I'm trying to get across here is that's it's ok, healthy even, to step away, have a break, and come back to your favourite game if and when you're ready. For the gamers who want to get better all the time, to the blogger who's trying to maintain their success or push to the next level, for the modellers and painters who are working on their masterpieces or to complete their award winning army – it's ok to have a break. For a hour, day, week, month, or however long you want, take a breather when you need it!
So I guess through past experience I've learned to pace myself and to recognise the signs of burning out. Sometimes it's a natural thing as interests move on. Sometimes it's overdoing it. Either way, I hope this has given you an insight into what to look for, and maybe a moment to reflect on where you are and why you're there.
Now, where's that codex...