Finding the game to suit your mood

Over the last couple of weeks, my patterns of game playing have changed. I’m still playing the same games as before we had a death in the family, but I have noticed that I am playing them in different ways.

I’m enjoying the social contact and escapism in my MMOs, but I also have a lot of other things to do in real life. I find that I’m reluctant to spend too long in game. Sometimes I solo — more than usual. I’ve started low level alts with sisters and friends, on a very no-strings-attached understanding.

I’ve also been avoiding in game stress. I’m looking for a more peaceful and less challenging experience right now. Maybe it’s part of the grieving process, or a way of escaping from real life upheavals. I’m not entirely sure. Either way, I’m not enjoying progression raiding in the way I had in the past. I can live with it — we have such a light raid schedule that one night a week isn’t going to hurt — but right now I can’t honestly say that it’s fun for me.

I would normally stop doing things if I decided that they weren’t fun. But in this case it’s only one night a week, and I enjoy the company and being able to keep my hand in. I’m hoping this phase will pass soon and I’ll be back to gleefully comparing my repair costs with the other tanks as usual. (In case anyone was wondering what we discuss in the tank channels.)

I also find myself retreating towards familiar things. I would love to spend more time with EQ2 but somehow in spare moments I still drift back to WoW. I think this is down to the low barriers of entry to a game you know very well. Also, I already have a couple of characters who are geared for endgame there and a social circle,  and I’m familiar with most of the current content. It’s very low stress for me to hop into WoW, run a couple of instances with friends or PUGs, and hop out again. A large part of this is because the heroics are easy, I’m overgeared, and I probably could run them blindfold.

EQ2 isn’t high stress by any means, but it takes more time and energy to go and learn a new game, explore, make new friends, and figure out new content and mechanics. And energy, as much as anything, is what I’m trying to recharge at the moment. For the same reason, I bowed out of trying any of the new releases this month. It’s not the right time, and I’m not in the right mood.

Back on the DS, Galactrix has been seeing a lot of play, probably because I’ve spent a lot of time on trains.

I love it more and more with every session, despite the game’s  huge sucking flaws. Yes it spends a freaking aeon saving and loading itself all the time — it has more load screens than EQ2 in open beta. Yes the screen manages to be sensitive when you want it to be forgiving, and vice versa. For all that, I love how it plays and I love what they were trying to do. I’m finally discovering the main storyline, and trekking around the galaxy unlocking stargates, fighting baddies, discovering rumours, making new items, mining, trading, and unlocking my latent psychic powers. I am also impressed at how many variations there are on a simple “match three colours” game.

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18 thoughts on “Finding the game to suit your mood

  1. I usually played Guild Wars and set my status to “offline” when I was in such a mood. Just like reading books of your favorite author instead of trying something new. If you want to avoid stress, LOTRO can at times be a beautiful snorefest. I see fans already crucifying me, but I meant it positive. ;)

    Galactrix is about thinking, you find that relaxing? http://store.steampowered.com/app/29200/ – Osmos might interest you. It has interesting WTF? How shall I do this? moments while it remains quite easy in difficulty and the mechanics are super simple anyways.

    I am in the mood for a curried sausage. Hot, fatty & spicy. How about that?

    • Galactrix is pretty relaxing for me. If you fail a fight, you can just retry it. The big bonus is that it’s on the DS so I can take it with me on trains.

      Osmos sounds cool though, I do enjoy that type of game. (I loved world of goo, for example.)

  2. “or the same reason, I bowed out of trying any of the new releases this month. It’s not the right time, and I’m not in the right mood.”

    Absolutely the same here. No headspace.

    As for playing what’s familiar, I totally know what you mean. It’s not like these other games & chars are going anywhere. :D

  3. Going through similar myself after my father’s death, all this is part of the grieving process, and sometimes escaping from real life upheavals for a short time is a needed part of the greiving process. You’ll get there, just go slowly slowly. Good luck to you.

  4. Not to make all about me or anything, but when I was grieving for a friend last year I found myself playing the original Puzzlequest pretty obsessively. I think there’s something about that bite-sized style of play, with easily-attainable short-term goals, just enough story to keep you playing and just enough brain power required to keep you engaged.

    But, yes, I’m sure grief filters into everything, from the banal to the outlandish, right down to the games we choose to play. Whatever works – hope the non-demanding spaces are helping.

    • So English :) It’s ok to share your experiences, you know? It is funny that we both end up with Puzzlequest variants, I think there’s something in the bite-sized solo play with a bit of distracting puzzle solving.

  5. I find as I become busier and busier in real life, due to work and family, I end up playing more WoW than other MMORPGs. Fact is, I just need a super casual game. It’s very difficult to made head way in something like EQ2 at level 80 when you can only spare an hour every night.

    • I know what you mean. And the thing with WoW is that it can be super casual .. if you know it. It’s the learning and meeting people that takes the time, I think. I suspect that’s true of games like EQ2 also. If you already know it, it’s much easier to play it casually.

    • Aye, I’ve argued this more than once. As gamers age, short session gaming becomes more and more important. I’ve logged more hours with FFTA2 and Puzzle Quest variants than I ever will with a PC-sit-at-a-freakin-desk-for-four-hours MMO.

      Oh, and yes, Galactrix rocks. Of the original PQ, Galactrix and Puzzle Kingdoms, I love the original *game* best (it tied everything into a better package), but the Galactrix board best. I must have hexes in my blood.

    • Thanks! tbh games have been a part of my life for so long that it’s not surprising it would filter here too. I think that’s quite interesting in some ways.

  6. You might want to try Rune Factory for the DS. It’s a mixture of Harvest Moon farming and dungeon crawling, and it’s a nice game to uwnwind with, almost MMOish sometimes.

    • Oh cool, I thought it was just a magical version of Harvest Moon (which was a cool game but got a bit micro-managey for me). Intrigued by the idea of dungeons though.

      • I’ll second Rune Factory, but only because I’ve heard very good things about it. I keep meaning to try it out, but I’m knee-deep in Valkrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. (VP Tactics, effectively.)

  7. I played WAR for just a couple of months, back when it was new, but now the Mac client has lured me into trying it out again — and what I love the most is how easy it is to just hop in and have some casual fun for an hour or two. If you have to drop out of an ongoing RvR effort since the baby needs you or whatever, it’s nothing like dropping an instance or a raid in WoW. The PvP and PQs are nicely casual yet deep enough to not get repetitive (so far). Anyway, a fine quality in any game.

  8. Pingback: Chilling out with Osmos « Welcome to Spinksville!

  9. Pingback: A holiday, a holiday, the first one of the year! Best of 2009. « Welcome to Spinksville!

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