Archive for the ‘real life’ Category

The Evolving Gamer: Time vs. Reward In MMO’s

I’ve really been thinking a lot over the past few days about what has changed for MMO players over the past few months that has really led to this slump in excitement for the games we love. While this hasn’t happened to everyone, there are still a great deal of gamers who can’t really seem to find that game that really gets their blood flowing. There are potentially dozens of reasons, but I want to take a closer look at one or two of the reasons here. Rather than look at the any events that have or haven’t taken place lately, I decided to look at the bigger picture. What has changed in the past ten or so years that has really caused our perceptions to shift and our desire to play our favorite genre less or with less enthusiasm?

I think one of the biggest changes that we have seen as gamers is actually not related to the games at all, but rather changes that have taken place in our lives. Many of our lives were radically different when we first started playing MMO’s compared to how they are now. Many of us were high school and college students when we first started playing MMO’s, but this isn’t the case anymore. We have graduated and moved into the work force with many starting families and buying homes. These things are all going to drastically change the way we play our games, both in terms of our perspective towards the game and also in terms of how much time we can realistically spend playing them. I want to focus most specifically on the element of time.

It should be pretty obvious that if we have less time to play MMO’s, we are going to try to do all we can to squeeze as much enjoyment and entertainment out of the time that we do have. I remember sitting in Fort Tethana in Asheron’s Call for hours during my summers in high school just going through vendors hoping to find good gear that people had sold. I would never consider doing this today. This then means that we aren’t going to want to spend several hours waiting for a group to form or grinding faction reputation or collecting crafting materials. We just don’t have the time for it. What this really does for me is create a system of importance. I see that I’m going to have to spend all of this relatively boring and uneventful time in game to advance my character in some way, and it causes me to question what I could be getting done away from the game. Even if it’s not something important, like watching a TV show or playing the XBox instead, it’s still is worth pondering.

While MMO’s are after all games and should be played under the assumption that they aren’t going to be filled to the brim with usefulness and importance, they are also quite different than console games in that you invest much, much more of your time and yourself into them through your character. If you have less and less time to spend gaming and you begin to see that your time isn’t going to be spent in a worthwhile fashion, are you going to be as likely to continue playing as opposed to spending time with your family or riding your bike? This is really becoming an issue for me, and I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s the fact that I don’t really have a game to get me to reconsider this philosophy or whether this is just a part of aging and re-evaluating priorities. I certainly hope that aging and gaming aren’t mutually exclusive and I don’t think they are, so I’m going to wait it out and hope that “option a” makes itself clear to me soon.



One Crazy Week

So it’s been six days and change since Anaktoria and I have been married, and things are finally starting to settle down.  She’s been able to move most of her stuff into the apartment, and now it’s time for thank you’s and cleaning (and WoW.)  I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding, and most of our family members were able to make it, so we were both ecstatic about the whole thing, but things have been a bit crazy lately.

I had more homework than I care to explain due before Wednesday, which I pulled off pretty well.  Also, my brother kindly donated his old computer so Anaktoria and I could each play WoW together, though the system has continuously been plagued with one issue or another when it comes to WoW.  That said, we made the hour trip to my parents house and picked up my old PC, which is still running pretty well (though there was a collection of a baseball size amount of dust and dust bunnies which needed to be blown out) so we’ve brought that back and are patching it as I’m writing.  It seems to be going smoothly so we’ll see how it works.  We’re both looking forward to getting back to playing together.

On the WoW front, Ana has been able to join a new guild that she’s enjoying.  Working with another guild (the two are partnered for raiding) she was able to clear Karazhan in two nights and gain three epics in the process.  While I’m really excited for her, I also realize that she owes me BIG TIME 🙂  I’ve gotten Tonks up to 67 and am trying to decide where to head to next.  I just want to get to 70 and start running instances and work towards raiding again.

Well there’s a general update of everything that’s been going on this past week.  It’s been absolutely crazy and I’m glad it’s all coming to a close nicely.  Ana might start guest posting from time to time also.  Have a great weekend everyone!


When virtual becomes reality

First off, we’re back! After a lovely vacation, it’s time to get back to the grindstone.

I have known Eakon for about two years. Virtually. We leveled from 30 to 40 together in Stranglethorn Vale. However, through the graces of modern technology and Facebook, we began to chat outside of World of Warcraft as well. Whether AIM or whisper chats, we became good friends over the internet waves. Now we know him as Tireen or Anoss, since he shed Eakon long ago. But, now I just know him as Joseph.

Last Thursday Kanthalos and I met him in real life. Outside of the computer. No WoW names. Nothing. I had thought it would be strange, but it was quite fun! We hung out like old friends, chatted, all sorts of non-WoW things.

Anyway, my point (if there is one), is that gaming is more than just killing things and leveling and getting the “phat lootz.” You can truly make some good friends. Whether just a grinding buddy, or someone you can always count on as a 5th in your group to someone you can tell all about the shitty RL day you’ve had, there are all sorts of friends to make in MMOs.

I don’t suggest running out and meeting a random MMO buddy if you haven’t established that they’re NOT an axe murderer, but getting to meet Joseph was a blast and a unique experience.


The MMO shakes

ad·dic·tion [uhdik-shuhn] –noun
the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

As a busy college senior, I’ve had hardly any time to play games. According to my mother, polishing my resume is a lot more important than getting Ana to lvl 70. Psh. So, I’ve been having what I fondly refer to as the “MMO Shakes.” Every time I boot up the laptop, my mouse hovers over the World of Warcraft icon. It’d be so easy to click…so easy. But no, I’ve got a 12 page paper on Henry James to complete. It’s true. MMOs are addictive. I’m going through withdrawals. Every time I see Kanthalos on his account I yearn to play. I weigh running a five man against finishing my portfolio. It’s so tempting.


MMOs give players near-instant gratification. Log on, step out of your own world and worries, and get absorbed in a new one. Easy.

I’ve found that it’s hard to step back OUT of the world though. It’s easy to log into WoW and say “I’ll get to my RL stuff later…” but logging out is that much harder for me when I’ve got a pile of chores and work waiting for me. It’s tempting to just stay in a world where Early Romantic Literature or Advanced Latin is hovering above my head. And no matter how good my intentions, I don’t give that work all the attention it deserves if I’m grumpy because I had to log off to do it. Maybe it’s just me, but I find MMOs to be highly addictive. No, not in a crack pipe sort of way, but in a way where it’s really easy to forget and push away RL obligations. I don’t get the night sweats and have to take a hit off of the ole’ Ironforge, but I do find myself wishing I was playing games instead of sitting through hours of class.

There is so much that could be said on MMOs and why people find them so easy to get into but so hard to quit. MMOs are psychologically pleasing if the game is doing it’s job. It takes your brain on a journey your body can’t, sends you to remote lands, gives you superhuman abilities, and puts you in touch with millions of others who enjoy the exact same thing. Running a new instance or a 40 man raid gives you such a high. I remember the first time my guild took down Oss. It was a rush like nothing else. To know that your efforts, harmonized with that of 19 others, were successful and necessary in completing a task is a great feeling. It’s not a feeling you get in daily life too often.

World of Warcraft, pre-expansion, was like Warcrack for me. I’d get home from classes, log on, and run a raid every night. If I went out with friends, I’d be thinking about what loot I had probably missed out on, and what content the guild had conquered without me there. It was a habit. My friends didn’t see much of me, my grades suffered, and my apartment began to resemble the pit of despair. So, I had to take a break. No, I wasn’t exactly like Cartman (“Mom! Bathroom!”) but it was bad.

As I’ve backed off of WoW more and more, things are coming into perspective for me. Yes, WoW and many MMOs are addictive (just ask Kanthalos about AC) but they are also a fun alternate universe to explore and conquer. They just need to be used in moderation, like all things in life. It’s hard for me not to log on when I know I’ve got things to do, but WoW is much more fun and rewarding when I do work first and THEN play.