How ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ cured my burnout

How ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ cured my burnout

Fighting games: apparently good for your mental health.

When the holidays roll in with parties and getaways, it’s a little hard to avoid getting lazy. My plan for the break was to make a recap video of 2018, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to go through months of unorganized footage.  Come New Year, I still found it difficult to begin editing my backlog of personal videos. It was frustrating, knowing that I had a huge creativity block that prevented me from imagining how the flow of the video would go. I ended up looking for various ways to procrastinate, and with its recent release, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate became the perfect distraction, and a surprising revival to my creativity.

The Super Smash Bros. series is more than your typical fighting game. What sets the series apart are its goal of smashing players out of the screen rather than killing them, the diversity of special items and stages, and of course, the extensive crossover of all your favorite Nintendo characters. It’s a game for all ages, and was a childhood favorite of mine. A lot has changed since the Melee edition so I was overwhelmed with all the new items that made so much happen on-screen within seconds of battle.

By then, I didn’t want to face the work I had to do, so I picked up the controller again and pushed myself to relearn the ropes of the game. I chose to main Sheik, whose quick and sharp movements require practice to perfect. Sheik’s combos gave me a sense of playful control over my opponents, which helped renew a sense of confidence in myself.


Focusing my attention away from that spiral and into a game where I could really see myself improve and have fun helped me find my passionate drive once more. 


Initially, I felt like I was being unproductive with my time, but I couldn’t stop playing because of how much energy it gave me. I realized then, that this was a part of the process.

Sparking momentum like this is the first step to healing from burnout. I always spiral into self doubt, convincing myself that this rut is worse than the last one, or that maybe this isn’t just a phase. Usually, I resort to binge watching, but this time around it didn’t revive my drive. Focusing my attention away from that spiral and into a game where I could really see myself improve and have fun helped me find my passionate drive once more. Smash really helps with personal goal setting by bringing attention to concrete markers of progress, since gameplay statistics are presented at the end of each battle.

It’s hard to remind ourselves that we’re improving in real life because we aren’t always given progress reports the way video games do. This became a reminder that I am capable of constantly improving in any venture as long as I pursue it with heart. This is common knowledge, but we need reminding every now and then. Small shifts in thinking can create big changes, after all.

How could a casual game unlock these realizations within myself? Well, we don’t always need something deep to learn or feel inspired. Even the simplest things will do, so as long as we allow ourselves to absorb whatever feelings they may spark in us.

Dabbling in different hobbies outside of your main work helps with curing a burnout. Of course, there is the risk of getting too distracted, but taking a fruitful break requires discipline the same way it takes discipline to avoid overworking. Burnouts call for breaks, and I now realize that gaming could actually be considered a productive part of the process during these times, at least with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.


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