Focus = Fun?

Lately my MMO gaming time has been down a bit, mostly due to DoTA, but also from the fact that currently I’m only actively playing LoTRO, and that’s with Aria, so we don’t log in a ton of hours each week. LoTRO is a great game to take at a casual pace, as there is always something to do, and even in short bursts of an hour or so you can make significant progress.

The down time has got me thinking how much game time has an effect on game enjoyment. All my best memories of games, be they MMO or not, are from games I was heavily invested in. The peak of WoW for me was raiding MC and BWL, making progress each week on new encounters. Both UO and AC peaked around the time my guilds were most active and involved in heavy PvP. My overall gaming highlight was being ranked #1 in Myth 2. In all situations, I was playing those games a rather stupid amount of time, generally around 6 hours or more each day, 7 days a week. You have a lot of free time as a student. Having graduated, that’s just not possible right now, and even if it was, I don’t think I would want to spend my life devoting so much time to gaming, not to mention Aria would kill me.

Maybe it’s just an odd coincidence, maybe it’s me just getting old, but I just don’t have that ‘pull’ with games these days as I did before. Yes LoTRO is fun, but it’s not ‘must play now’ fun. Same with the Wii, all fun games, but not anything like getting Final Fantasy 7 and playing it till your eyes bleed, taking a break, and going right back. And I think it might have something to do with consistence; the more you play a game, even if it’s just in smallish amounts but daily, the more you get ‘into’ that game and want to finish. Part of that is overall I just have less gaming time, but another factor is choice. I have more choices now than ever in what to play, and I can bounce around from one game to another at will. It’s fun from a diversity standpoint, but not so good for actually getting into a game and finishing it, hence The Witcher remaining unfinished despite being a great game.

So I think in order to get more out of the gaming time I do have, I’ll need to focus a bit more. Non-MMO games make this a bit easier because they actually have an end, so once you finish, you move on. MMO’s and open ended games like DoTA or Civilization are a bit trickier, since they never end, but at the same time don’t require quite as much time to really get into. DoTA you get into it for the length of a match, and as long as your skills stay sharp, it works. Same with Civ, but even less, since its turn based and you just need to remember strategy, not quick combos and twitchy gameplay.

6 Responses to Focus = Fun?

  1. brainclutter says:

    My interest in all forms of gaming has severely waned as I get older. I was hardcore as a student with a nutty sleeping schedule, part-time job, and girlfriend. That girlfriend eventually became my wife, we got a dog, we bought a house, I work full time, I play several RL sports, and I just don’t find myself nearly as interested in gaming as I once was.

    Warhammer Online will likely be my last stab at MMORPG gaming because for me, these games are just a catch22. The only reason I play is to be successful, which results in me having fun. But being successful usually takes a large investment of time and I have very little of it to spare. No success = no fun (it’s a carry-over from years of playing competitive sports).

    Once I’m done with WAR, I’ll probably get whatever the best next-gen system is and retire to the likes of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Resident Evil, and Mario Kart… I don’t have it in me for another bout of MMORPG madness.

  2. Bonedead says:

    I think you’re just getting old, honkey! Teehee

    I agree though on the focus being necessary to get “into” a game. I mean why play games if you’re not focused? It reminds me of playing CS and some newb getting killed and saying alright now I’m gonna try or I wasn’t trying. Hello? Why are you even bothering to play if you’re not even trying. Granted, most of the time it is an excuse, but still it happens so often that it can’t be an excuse at least some of the time.

    I think focusing on a game is a balancing act. Focus too much and you can get burned out. Though you can still play as someone who is burned out, you won’t be focused (see: CS example above). Focus too little and it will probably seem like you’re wasting you’re time. That or you just won’t really care about what progress has been made in the game.

    I hope I don’t lose my gamer drive anytime soon. I mean I have felt it at times but I believe it is usually due to lack of choice, or lack of an interesting choice. I mean shit, we all know doing this shit all the time isn’t good for us, but that doesn’t stop us. Let’s just bury that notion in our subconscious so it can depress us later when we’re burned out and bored as fuck.

  3. Swift Voyager says:

    When I get burnt out on the games I’ve been playing I dig into my box-o-games in the closet and find something I haven’t played in a while.

    I’m nearly 38 and I’ve been up and down the rollercoaster of losing interest and getting it back again. Real life stuff tends to rarely stay the same for too long. You’re likely to come back to a time in your life where you have time to game again. Imagine for instance, that Aria begins working evenings or taking evening college classes. Imagine that you end up working evenings and/or weekends and have your “weekends” on wednesday and thursday. You could even break your leg while sky diving and end up stuck on the couch for 6 months.

    …Aria isn’t allowed to read this one: You could even end up single and living on your own again. If you try to play too many games again right now, then it’s kinda circular because if you play too many video games and get wife aggro the punishment is that you get all the time you want for playing video games.

    All the joking aside, I’m guessing that you haven’t really lost interrest in gaming. I’ll bet that you’ve just reached a point in your life where your free time isn’t so pointless any more. No worries though. There’s always at least a small chance that your free time will become pointless again one day.

  4. mandrill says:

    I took a break from MMO’s recently, after burning out of WoW through grinding my character up to lvl 50. I was playing WoW as a break from EVE and when I stopped playing WoW I didn’t go back to EVE but enjoyed some less involving games for a few weeks. Flat Out 2, Soulstorm, Kane’s Wrath, and others, let me come back to EVE feeling fresh and having a workable plan. I’ve started a new character, I know where I want to take him and how to get there and this time around it looks like I might hang around for more than a few months. I have also resolved to play other games in order to prevent burnout this time around. Focus is all very well but variety is the spice of life.

  5. Stropp says:

    The important thing to me with my gaming drive is to simply be having fun. The occassions where I have ‘burnt out’ on a game is due to pressure to play when I don’t really feel like it. Raiding schedules, guild leadership, and even playing to come up with material for my blog have made playing a chore and removed the fun.

    So now I just make sure I do what I want to do. I’ll make time to visit friends, read a book, watch TV, or even get out and do some gardening. Games now fit in my life, not the other way around. (Although at the moment I’m spending a lot more time in Age of Conan than I probably should. ;-) )

  6. mbp says:

    I have noticed a trend in single player games towards shorter higher quality games. I think this is great – I love a game which delivers a few hours of high quality entertainment but doesn’t eat up your whole life. Also – even though the bigger titles no wget to console first they are often improved by the time they get to PC release. I can heartily recommend Bioshock / Orange Box / COD4 to any gamer who wants to experience a few hours of pure entertainment without signing away their whole lives to an MMO.

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