Category Archives: Gaming life

Answering the siren’s call

Beau Hindman’s siren songs have been playing seductively in my ears for years now.  For the record, he’s been singing them a long time.  In fact, he now sings them from the shores of Massively.  In case you haven’t heard, here’s the gist of what he likes to sing about:

When it comes to your gaming, slow down.  Don’t worry about your level.  Explore more.  Rely less on maps and fast travel.  Get into the experience.  Role-play it up a bit. 

I can’t tell you how appealing this play style sounds to me, and yet, the way I play couldn’t be more opposite.  

Unfortunately, the speed of life that bleeds into every facet of my existence dictates my play style.  As there is very little down time in my daily routine, I’m constantly aware of the time, where I need to be in the next half hour, what needs to get done before I move on to the next task.  And that’s how I tend to play my MMOs.  Where do I need to go next? Bee-lining from quest hub to quest hub.  What quests can I knock out there?  Are the XP and the quest rewards worth it? 

I wish I could check my real world baggage in at the door before entering my gamer’s mindset.  However, that’s usually not the case.  When I do find the time to game, I’m always aware of the time (and what little there is of it).  I constantly feel the need to make the most of it and that there’s not a moment to waste.  Sadly, exploration, following the story of a particular quest chain, and simply enjoying the experience of being in an online world all take a hit during these sessions.

In other words,  my gaming has become less of an escape and more of an extension of my real life.  And that’s not really what I want.

I would be lying though if I said I didn’t enjoy what I’m doing in game.  This treadmill approach to gaming has served me well for many years, and it keeps me logging in, that’s for sure.  The sense of accomplishment is intoxicating and quite fulfilling.  But here’s the catch: this constant grind is exactly what burns me out on a given game.  I simply can’t sustain the level of drive needed to keep it all going.  And before I know it, the bottom drops out.  I’ve lost the momentum and simply stop logging in.

So where does that leave me now?

At the very least I plan to make a concerted effort to slow things down, to take more time with the whole questing experience.   If that means taking a slower form of travel from time to time or resisting the urge to constantly check my map and XP bar, well then, so bit it.  Speaking of which, I wish MMOs would come with the option to hide your XP bar (not necessarily turn it off).  That would be a feature I would definitely take advantage of.  At the moment I’m leveling—err, adventuring through Middle-earth with a captain.  He’s staying in Rivendell but has plans to move north up into the MistyMountains to see if he can lend a hand to Gloin and his dwarven crew.  Adventure is yet another siren’s call I find difficult to ignore.

For the time being though, I’ll remain chained to the mast of continued leveling, quest grinding and chasing the armor upgrade prize.  And even if in the end I’m not successful in slowing things down, it’s still nice to know that there are players out there who have.

Thanks Beau.  Please keep the songs coming.

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The oil after midnight

On average during the week I get about an hour a day of gaming time.  As I tend to play MMOs where just getting to that sweet spot can take an hour or more, many of my gaming sessions feel rushed and somewhat unfulfilling (my cross to bear).  That’s why I have set aside Friday nights for my extending gaming time.  I tend to abandon all reason and stay up way past midnight most of these nights.  This tends to be long after my son and much saner wife have gone to bed.  It’s just me, my computer, and the small hours of the night.

Generally speaking, this tends to make Saturdays a challenge for me—energy level wise.  My son doesn’t seem to understand the “daddy’s tired” routine where playing keep up with a 5 year old can prove challenging even to a well-rested adult.

Every Friday I say I’m going to go to bed at midnight, but I never do.  When midnight rolls around (and believe me, I’m fully aware of the time), I always tell myself: “I’ll just finish up this quest and call it quits.”  But without fail, I always find something else to do.  My mind offers up: “Come on, it’s the weekend.  You’ve managed to make it through another week.  You’ve earned this time.  Enjoy it.”  And I always do.

However, there doesn’t seem to be much more than a blink or two between the time I stumble into bed late Friday night (read: Saturday morning) and when my son launches into our bedroom bright and early, bursting with energy and excited for what Saturday will bring.   That’s when I lay there, my eyes burning, my head humming, my previous evening’s exploits a mere memory, and tell myself that next Friday things will be different.  I’ll manage to get to bed earlier.  And I never do.