They Can’t Play These Games Anymore, And They Blame Exes


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Two characters prepare to hit each other in Elden Ring PVP.

Some breakups are so stinging—worse than biting into a lemon slice with a cut lip—that they ruin everything the relationship ever touched, including good memories, sunny places, and your favorite video games.

It’s hard when your ex loved playing a game with you. Or when they used to pay more attention to their Xbox than to you, or maybe, instead, you could sense they were tired of seeing you attached to your PC. Remembering the arguments, the anxiety, or worse, the way they smiled about leveling up, could be enough to make you swear off a certain title completely. That’s how it was for a few lovesick gamers, who reflected on their experiences with heartbreak and the games they’ll never play again for this slideshow.

Some huge, genre-defining games make their lists, like Persona 5 and Horizon, and you might be surprised that anything, even a barbed arrow through the chest, could keep someone away from an incredible story, or ray tracing, or whatever. But, hm. You must have never had your expectations obliterated, then.

Keep reading to get a sense of what it’s like. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

It’s only fair for me to provide my own entry, which unfortunately also happens to be deeply embarrassing. When I was 19, I was doomed to love a guy who also said he loved me but, reflecting back on it, didn’t seem to even like me that much.

Sometimes, when I was in his dorm room, pining or searching for deeper meaning in The 1975 lyrics (same thing), he would silently build twisted rollercoasters in the 2016 construction simulator Planet Coaster instead of speaking to me. This could go on for uncomfortably long periods of time, but I’ve learned that only thirty minutes of stoic rollercoaster construction can make you feel like you’ve been sealed in a glass casket for, like, at least a week. I often felt humiliated for everyone involved, but, you know, 19-year-olds’ ability to pine often outweighs their shame.

I still see Planet Coaster in my ex’s shadow, and so I’ll never play it. Though, I wasn’t really planning to.

“My ex loved Stardew Valley. She loved playing it all the time, and I bought the game at least three times on different consoles. I think I also bought a plushie.

“I introduced her to the game after she’d mentioned really loving the Harvest Moon series as a kid. It was a good move because I grew up on a farm, so it kind of helped bridge the gap [between our experiences] in a way. Now, after a messy breakup years ago, I own it for Switch, PC, and PS4, and I haven’t touched it since.” ⁠– Tyler, 31

“I was about 14 hours into Horizon Zero Dawn when my marriage was breaking apart.

“I was sleeping on the floor right next to my PS4. I had just finished playing a session when I had to tell my kids I was leaving.

“I can never return to that game, or even the world of HZD. Every time I see those games, I remember the pain, the look of hurt on my kids’ faces. Even after several years, I can’t bring myself to play it.” ⁠– Dan Lipscombe, 40

“We didn’t play together, but we were together when I did, and she was usually nearby or next to me. Hurts very much to think about the idea that I wouldn’t have her next to me the next time.” ⁠– Eric, 31

“I can’t ever play games like Yume Nikki, or any of the Dynasty Warriors-type games.

“My ex played these, and they were constantly mean and rude to me, but I was too naive to understand it wasn’t okay. Now, those games remind me of that shitty person, watching them play games because they didn’t want to do anything together.” ⁠– Ellie, 22

Persona 5 was the first in the series that I played. I have trouble with [Japanese role-playing game] combat and the ‘week’ system, so my ex was helping me with it, guiding most decisions, etc.

“We broke up as I was finishing the third palace. Never touched it again, unfortunately.

“The whole thing is weird to me because many of my favorite bands and artists in general were recommendations of hers. I don’t know what makes games different.” ⁠– Ciro Mota, 30

“My ex and I spent a long time together playing it.” ⁠– Sam, 18

“[My ex-girlfriend and I had] been close friends for a long time, but we got closer during the pandemic, and we both played Genshin Impact.

“We started always playing together, and taking photos together in the game, and going on other in-game dates. In the end, we decided to become lovers.

“But our relationship was not very good. Last February, we watched fireworks together in Genshin because there was a special event, and that was the last time we played together. The next day, our relationship ended.

“I began to avoid, even hate, Genshin Impact. I tried to play the game again the other day, but the memories I made with my ex still linger. I decided to uninstall the game again.” ⁠– Disakarida, 24

“I will never play League of Legends. My ex played it constantly, and he met the girl he was cheating on me with there.” ⁠– Alice, 33

“My ex got me a copy [of Titanfall] for my birthday, and she was so excited to watch me play it. We sat down and turned it on, and I immediately jumped into the campaign.

“Well, what I didn’t know was that the campaign was multiplayer. I hate multiplayer with a passion. Always been a solo boy.

“I finished the first mission and immediately laid out what I thought were honest criticisms of the game and how I wasn’t having very much fun. You can figure out what happened next.

“She burst into tears, called me some choice words, and left the room like so many scenes from an anime. And, just like an oblivious anime protagonist, it didn’t immediately hit me why she was upset.

“Eventually, I figured it out and did my absolute best to apologize for being a colossal dumbass, but the damage was done.

“I felt so bad for what I said that I think it actually altered how I view gifts. Now I always express appreciation and positive things about gifts, even if I know I’m never going to use it.” ⁠– Nate, 31

“Back in 2013, my ex-husband and I played a game called TERA. He became obsessed with it, to the point where he brought my gaming laptop to the hospital so that he could play TERA while I recovered from giving birth (including during one of the first pictures he took with our son).

“A couple weeks after our son’s birth, he found a girl named Athena from Greece, and they started spending a lot of time together. At first, I encouraged it, but, eventually, I came to find out that he was buying her in-game stuff (using his real money). When they weren’t gaming, they were messaging constantly on Skype, even to the point that he altered his sleeping habits for her.

“I stopped playing this game because…well, I got into it for my ex-husband, and now the game was ruined. I was watching the destruction of my marriage.

“The day before Christmas Eve, he told me he was moving back to his mom’s house. On Christmas Eve, Athena sends him pictures, and he officially leaves for his mom’s house. On Christmas Day, he tells me he wants a divorce.

“Since then, I haven’t been able to play TERA. [I also now feel like Christmas is] a pointless holiday that I only celebrate and make special for my son.

“But unfortunately for me, I didn’t [immediately] learn my lesson, and it took another eight years before I was finally strong enough to leave him and never look back. I am thriving now and am being treated like I should be.

“But will never touch that fucking game again.” ⁠– Silfy, 31

Are there any games that you’ll never play because you associate them with an ex? Are there some games that are simply too good to give up? Can you ever truly recover from heartbreak? Give me all your answers in the comments.

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