The fun of deciding NOT to do something

Say it in whispers, but one of the things I like about MMOs is that it isn’t possible for me to do everything in the game. There just isn’t time, so I have to decide where I want to focus my efforts.

I know that other people don’t have the same time constraints and also don’t seem to get bored at the same rate, so they can throw way more hours into hardcoring it up. I just don’t find hardcore as fun as the more thoughtful gameplay choices that casual players have to make.

I’m playing far more casually at the moment, and that means that even in aspects of the games I enjoy, I’m always weighing up whether the benefits (including fun) of an activity are worth the time/ effort. Whilst a lot of hardcore gamers really thrive on grinding for hours for that last 1% bonus, as a casual I enjoy being able to say, “Nope, I’ll skip that grind. I can be 99% as good without it and put the time into something else.”

So for me, playing with time constraints (and boredom constraints) makes the day to day decisions of gameplay more fun. The decisions matter. I know I won’t have time to raid simultaneously on several alts. I know I won’t have time to get good at thousands of different specs. So I have to choose carefully and stick with my decisions. That’s fun for me; important gameplay changing decisions are fun. And it isn’t just time constraints that come into play – I enjoy exploratory gameplay where I’m learning new things. So I’ll prioritise that over grinding for achievements.

I could make time for more in game grinding if I really wanted to do that. Maybe that last 0.01% would make a difference to our raid performance after all. But I know the truth is that I enjoy deciding not to do something just because it’s there, just as much as I enjoy throwing myself into some new feature. I love that there is content which I deliberately decided not to complete, but that other people do. I know that to a hardcore gamer I must look like an unmotivated slacker.  But I don’t think that slacker really describes the way I play at all.

Do you pick and choose which parts of the game you play, or do you feel duty bound to do everything you possibly can to advance your character?

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11 thoughts on “The fun of deciding NOT to do something

  1. I enjoy the scale of these games for a different reason:- The fact that there’s more to the game than I can or want to master makes the world feel bigger somehow.
    In WoW I know that there’s the entire PvP game I’ve hardley touched, I’m still finding my way into Vanilla and TBC raids I’ve not seen before, I still find quest content I’ve never done before. I like that that stuff is out there even though its unlikely I’ll ever seriously PvP frex. I play WoW as a raider but I started playing online games to explore virtual worlds and the bigger and more complex the better.

  2. I am currently enjoying Age of Conan with the new expansion. The levelling pace is a lot faster than WoW (in the time it takes to get to level 20 in WoW I was in my 30s)and with offline levelling even if I can’t get in the game too often I do not feel like I am crippling myself. This makes it a lot easier for me to be able to set aside a night and do some RP, or just wander around aimlessly for a while as I know that I can pick up the levelling again at any time and get some more levels. Having a stock of double XP potions doesn’t hurt either, I am almost level 40 and can do a level an hour if I really work at it.

  3. This has always been my motto in MMO’s: If it’s isn’t fun don’t do it. The “unmotivated slacker” simply has a different set of priorities than the so-called hardcore player. The beauty and hallmark of a good MMO is that there’s room for all of these different kinds of players.

    We as MMO players are trained to “work” to min-max our characters. It’s not uncommon to look down upon and even ridicule someone who hasn’t “worked hard” to max out a character, even if there’s no actual gameplay advantage to be had.

    A hardcore raider enjoys his or her game by advancing vertically. For an altoholic like myself, I prefer horizontal advancement. I may never face Arthas, and truthfully don’t care if I ever do, but I have been able to play this game many many different ways, and I love the variety. To each their own.

  4. I’m a terrible hamster. If you dangle stats in front of me, I will chase it in an endless wheel, with total disregard for food, fun, and other such important things. ;)

    Which is why Guild Wars is perfect for me. You get the stats so early that really, getting to the stats is just a tutorial.

    Leaving me free to do whatever the heck I want to do, while keeping my stathamster safely caged.

    Lately, all I do is kill White Mantle. There isn’t any rep in it, and I don’t care that they have a miniscule chance to drop pretty (and profitable) weapons. ANet has outdone themselves with the War in Kryta White Mantle mobs. I’ve been doing nothing but killing them, for the sheer joy of it. I’ve abandoned all other title things I was vaguely following as a sort of ‘hm what shall I do in GW today!’ in favour of killing White Mantle.

    Gaming life… it’s so much more fun (for me), when stat chase doesn’t enter into the equation.

    • omg, don’t forget to eat! *shock*

      I think that way of playing is pretty common among the type of players I like to hang out with (I mean, people who take the game seriously enough to want to get good at it).

      I always thought GW had such an interesting model. Don’t drag out levelling, don’t force the gear dependence.

      • Indeed! Poor foodies. :(

        The most tragic thing about the Inner Stathamster, if I allow it to RAMPAGE OUT OF CONTROL AAA!!!! is that, much of the time I’m not even having fun running, running, running on that wheel. I’m just… compelled to. O.o

  5. Add other people into the mix and that choice isn’t so easy. Choosing content then may mean not being able to raid with friends because of all the gating.

    After awhile they add so much content that the choice is taken away. I’d prefer a lot smaller scope content myself, because it isn’t always about min maxing. You sometimes have to choose between content and people too.

    • There is one more thing about gating though. Gating’s always there, in some form or another.

      In GW, for instance… I mostly kill Mantle alone if I want to go in Hard Mode (and when do I ever not lol), because for this nugget, it’s faster and more efficient than going with humans (in general).

      I do go with friends sometimes, but then, it depends on the friends. The Mantle mobs are actually interesting enough that they require some degree of skill (or attention, or experience, or whatever you wanna call it – of something!) to beat.

      This has led to me only going with people whose company I value highly, and that I know can play. The ‘acquaintance’ level folks that I can, and will, run through other content (because they can’t do it by themselves), I tend to refuse.. because in the case of these mobs, I do not want to carry these people. Call me a selfishly battered nugget, but I would rather have AI henchmen with me, than carry these people.

      This is a form of gating, too. But it’s much more subtle than going, ‘BUZZZZ!!! UR NAWT ALLOWED IN THERE TILL YOU ATTUNE THIS ATTUNE THAT AND EAT 23 POLKA-DOTTED GNOLL EGGS!’ And I’m not sure it’s a form of gating that can (or should?) be avoided.

  6. I fired up a Burning Crusade ten day trial to see the BElf and Drannwhatever starting zones, but realized I could also play my other characters. I went and soloed Gnomer with my level 50 Druid… just because I felt like it. I’ll probably try to hit Deadmines next. (It means being sneaky getting there, too, as a Tauren Druid on a PvP server. The journey is half the fun.)

    It was awesome to prowl around without worrying about a PUG leaving me behind, and to explore corners of the place I’d not seen earlier.

  7. Pingback: Killed in a Smiling Accident. » Blog Archive » Reviewlet: Dragon Age Origins – Awakenings

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