Chatty Cassie: Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) in Gaming

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing a lot lately about this acronym FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. It was actually a fairly new acronym to me, one I’ve only heard in the last few months or so. It means having this fear of missing out on something new or popular, and it’s been coming up a lot in the board game community especially regarding Kickstarter campaigns.

Many wonderful Kickstarter campaigns have launched recently, and while a lot of gamers want to participate in all these campaigns, many of us just don’t have the funds to do it. Yet we see friends after friends sharing the campaigns, talking about the campaigns, comparing them to other games and campaigns, and it can be pretty hard to not feel like you’re missing out on the fun when you can’t afford to back all these campaigns.

This isn’t just a gaming community issue, by the way. FOMO applies to humans in general, especially with social media. Social media has led to a negative psychological behavior in which people will look to the internet for interaction and bonding, yet will find that they are not receiving what they want. They do what they see others do, they buy what they see others buy, yet they still feel lonely. 

Wanting to connect with others is not a bad thing. The Self-Determination Theory suggests feeling of relatedness or connectedness with others is a legitimate psychological need. However, FOMO may lead to behaviors that can reflect addiction. Imagine you feel down or bored, so you look to the internet. You begin to experience FOMO –  you feel less by not participating or engaging in what you see others doing. This feeling leads to a feeling of loneliness, and the common cure? More internet. More social media. More FOMO.

So what do we do? How do we rid ourselves of this craving, this feeling of needing to be doing what others are doing, buying, and backing?

Well the best thing you can do, believe it or not, is have gratitude.

To have gratitude is to show appreciation. Appreciate what you have now, and where you are. Be present in your day, and enjoy what is already around you.

Now let’s bring this back to gaming. We become bored or lonely, so we look to social media to see what others are doing. We see them backing Kickstarter campaigns, talking about them, sharing cool prototypes, and we feel like we’re missing out. FOMO again. We leave the internet, participate in something similar to what others are doing, share it, and yet we still feel, well, lonely and empty.

Here’s where gratitude comes into play. First, consider the games you already own. Do you play them as often as you should, or want to? If not, consider trying one of the fun board game challenges, like the ten by ten. Play ten games ten times. Another fun one is to reduce the percentage of unplayed games in your collection. If you have a friendly local game store or game library in your town, you could try to play some games you’ve never played before and do the 52 game challenge, playing one new game a week. Or swap games with friends! There are so many wonderful games out there that don’t have the huge popularity that some games do, but are just as fun, if not sometimes more. In the board game industry, not being a popular game does not directly translate to being a bad game.

Second, give your present 100% of your attention. Maybe you don’t play games as often as you’d like because you’re busy feeling lonely and perusing social media. Your chores are piling up, homework is due soon, and you just don’t feel…good about any of it. If you’re busy watching others play games, you’re not giving your present all the attention it deserves. Start to focus on your present and give it 100%, you will most likely get a lot more done in your day, and you may just find that extra time you wanted to play games.

Being present doesn’t just apply to task management, mind you. To be fully present, your mind must be in the moment. Are you paying attention to your game, or are you busy thinking about getting the right photo, sharing your successes, which game to play next? When you are here, be here. 

FOMO can hurt and can definitely put you down, but that doesn’t mean you’re out. Take a look at your shelf today, grab a friend or two, and enjoy the moment. You didn’t get to back that super awesome hella popular game. Well, so what? The next big, popular, fancy game is around the corner, and if you keep chasing the next one, you’ll never finish the race. Quit the race and go play some games!

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