Question of the Day: Are you happier when you focus on one game?

Zubon wrote a post on Kill Ten Rats which has been haunting me since I read the title (good title btw).

He wonders if ‘single game players’ are happier, arguing that if you don’t realise how much better other games can implement different aspects of MMOs, it’s easier to be happy with the one you have. For example, if you never played an MMO with a really well designed crafting system, you might find WoW crafting to be great.

Zubon also comments, sensibly, that if you haven’t played EVE you won’t know what a fully functional MMO economy is like. And I wonder how many of the hardcore WoW auction house/ goldmaker players have been tempted to try EVE because it’s strange to me also that most of them don’t.

I’m not sure on that one (you play the whole package after all, not the separate minigames), but I take the question another way.

Do you have more fun in games if you can focus utterly on one at a time? This means not switching butterfly-like between several in the same week but focussing utterly on the game that currently holds your interest? It means picking one MMO to spend the majority of your MMO time in.

I think that the most fun I’ve had in MMOs has been when I have been most engaged and that means very immersed in my current game of choice. It’s partly because that makes it easier to build social bonds, which I enjoy, and partly not feeling the stretch between ‘shall I play character X in game A or character Y in game B.’

If you do play multiple MMOs, how do you manage it? If you are more of a one game player, do you ever feel tempted to stray when things are quiet in your game of choice? Or are you a serial MMO player like me, who likes to have one main game at a time, but may switch after a few months?


21 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Are you happier when you focus on one game?

  1. And I wonder how many of the hardcore WoW auction house/ goldmaker players have been tempted to try EVE because it’s strange to me also that most of them don’t.

    Why would I want to go from a MMO where I am obviously “winning” to another MMO with long-established (alien) rules I would have to learn from scratch? Or put another way, I already know this lever drops a food pellet when I press it, so why should I try and see if that lever other there also drops food pellets if I press it too?

    As you might imagine, I fall in the “play one game at a time” camp, although it would be more accurate to say I only play one type of game at a time. I log onto WoW for about an hour or so each day, then it’s off to Minecraft, Magicka, Assassin’s Creed, or whatever $5 game Steam forced me to buy with their dastardy deals.

  2. I guess I’m a one MMO at a time kind of person, I beef up my gaming diet with single player and other multiplayer games.

    I think a lot of this is down to the fact that I get really caught up in the lore and trying to take more than one set of history is tough.
    Additionally I find that having a explorer/achiever personality mean I don’t have time for another MMO, I’m too busy enjoying the one I’m (currently) playing.

  3. I think it’s true; and especially for MMOs they’re just way too engaging and time consuming when played ‘properly’, to allow switching between several. if you’re looking for that escapism and immersion, it feels disruptive not to dedicate yourself fully, at least for the first weeks and months. establishing social relationships ingame also is the fruit of time.

    I wonder though, with the whole change we currently experience in the genre and some of its bigger paradigm shifts, like the focus on soloplay, whether this really still applies in the new era of MMOs that we’re facing. probably less and less so. you can easily switch between fully flexible gamey games, no problem there.

  4. Yup, I’m happier.

    I also think it’s important not to get too hyped up. There’s a few people I know who are going through the motions while waiting for SWTOR/This Secret World. They would be better off taking a break from MMOs.

  5. I’m probably happier playing one at a time. Whether I’d want to or not, I might feel like I’m “falling behind” if I were to split up the time I do give to MMO’s among many, especially given the time required to stay up-to-date with any one of them.

    Ignorance is bliss, at least it has been for me. Why ruin my happiness for twice the price? That’s how I feel about it.

  6. I think that when I’m happier in my MMO of choice I play one at a time.

    I’ve been a long-time WoW player, dabbled in Lotro when it first came out (which coincided with a not-so-happy time in WoW for me), went back to WoW, are now playing Lotro again and put WoW on hold.

  7. I think that the most fun I’ve had in MMOs has been when I have been most engaged and that means very immersed in my current game of choice.

    This is the case for me as well. It’s not so much about not knowing how green the grass is elsewhere, but about being immersed and engaged, having goals and motivations.

  8. I think if you play multiple games in the same genre in parallel, it’s going to be very hard to avoid making comparisons all the time, potentially to the detriment of your enjoyment.

    That said, from my perspective at least it’s perfectly possibly to play multiple games from different genres/styles at once, time permitting. For example, at the moment I’m playing Burnout Paradise (Sony free gift), Dragon Age Origins (again, as I recently bought DA2. A couple of things I’ve read suggest this isn’t the best idea, but I’ve started so I’ll finish), Alan Wake, WoW, and NBA Jam and PvZ on my iPad. None of these games particularly overlap, so I don’t make comparisons — in fact switching between the games over the course of a week’s play helps to keep them exciting prospects.

    If I was to play DA:O, The Witcher (bought in a steam sale recently), Mass Effect and (say) FF13, there’d be enough overlap that I likely *would* start comparing them, most likely to my own detriment.

  9. One MMO, yes. I usually have some single player game on the side that I muck around with depending on my mood or gaming needs. Outside of WoW I have Minecraft, Torchlight (where are you Diablo 3?), Dawn of War 2 or Starcraft 2.

    I have a few other games I need to get back to at some point.

    Other MMOs? None really. I have Champions installed but haven’t touched it in several weeks.

  10. I think I am happier just playing 1 at a time myself. I don’t feel like I’m “neglecting” one game for another, plus I feel like I’m advancing farther if I limit myself to 1 game. while I have and do “bip around” it’s usually for a month or 2 at a time, not doing multiple games per week.

    Currently Rift is my primary. I do have EVE running on the side for the offline skill training, but I think I’ll be letting that go before too much longer. Once SWTOR comes out, EVE is definitely dropped in favor of that. Or I may drop EVE and Rift both and just do SWTOR. Time will tell, but I do know for sure that 2 subs is my maximum, and if EVE didn’t have the offline advancement like it does, I’d only have the 1 game right now.

  11. That’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question for me – am I happier because I’m immersed enough in a game that I play it exclusively, or am I playing a particular MMO exclusively because it’s the one I was happiest with?

    Would I play two at once if i was equally happy with both? Probably not. I tend to play one MMO at a time and stick with it until it gets too repetitive. Once I start running the same dungeons and raids over and over again I get bored and my attention drifts.

    Eve is the exception to that, mostly because I can still feel like my character is progressing toward a goal even if I only log in once in a while to update the skill queue.

  12. I’d not say “happier”, exactly, but perhaps “more effective”. Sometimes that’s the same thing for some people, but not usually for me. I’m happiest while I’m still learning about a game, and usually, that means bouncing back and forth between different games so I don’t get stuck in a grindy rut and start disliking a game because it’s not teaching me anything, it’s just giving me busywork. Of course, if all I find when I come back to a game is more grind, it’s easier to drop it when there’s something else to play.

    Then again, I’m a bit of a statistic aberration, I’m a heavy Explorer, and I work in the game industry. A lot of my gaming is more about research than play. As such, a gestalt approach to games is more helpful than trying to become a specialist in any one given game.

  13. I’m happiest with flow. When I get that in a game, I stick to the game. When it’s elusive, I’m tempted to play other games and see if I can find it there. Simple.

  14. I fly back and forth between the two extremes. I do agree, though, that you’re happier when you’re focused in one gaming world. In fact, other than beating a game (that can be beaten), there’s really no reason to stop playing a game you enjoy and take up another. Games like WoW break this, though, because there is no terminal point in the story; it goes on forever, so if you want to do something else, you’re making a choice either to split your time, which as you mention can make you feel stretched, or “abandoning” your game that you’ve put so much time into but haven’t “beaten.” Perhaps the very existence of MMOs creates this question in the first place; if every game we played had a clear beginning and (more relevantly) end, then would we flit around at all?

  15. 1. I think Zubon is speaking the language of closed authoritarian regimes who seek never to show their citizens that life can be better. Ignorance *IS* bliss. But then one would never know about EvE’s economy, City of Hero’s sidekicking and costume creation, and Star Trek’s incredible leveraging of their lore. I have only read about Rift’s “change-role-on-the-fly” but I think it’s brilliant.

    2. I enjoy games of all sorts and can flit about from driving games to sports games to platformers. I need to pay attention to roleplay games because the writing has gotten so sophisticated that I need to devote my entire attention to games them. Heck, I’ve gotten incredibly lost in Fallout 3 and had to look at my Pipboy to remind myself of what I was supposed to do.

    (I am on chapter 4 or 5 of Final Fantasy 13 and am still pretty confused by the story. Thank goodness for the summary blurbs each time I load up the game.)

    3. Making friends requires commitment. People come and go throughout a play session and making contacts requires being online at the same time as other people. Playing one MMO at a time makes sense if one wants to be a part of a community of players.

    I am only playing DDO right now and find time for FF13 for short spurts since the PS3 runs really hot. I am glad that I have played other games of all genres though and am hopeful that games will only get better. Tasting a $400 sake may spoil me forever, but if I thought that Space Invaders was the best game evah that would have shut me out from very rich videogaming experiences.

    (Yes, I understand that some people think that super hardcore Ultima Online and Everquest *ARE* the best games ever. I did not play those games.)

  16. This whole thing sounds, to me, like confusion about causality. I think dissatisfied players are more likely to play multiple games than satisfied ones.

    • Not always. I play a lot of games just because that’s how I’m wired and it’s more efficient for me to do so when I’m in research mode. Just because I’m satisfied with a game doesn’t mean that I want to play it all the time. Not every game is built for that, and burnout can happen pretty quickly in even the best games. Portal, for one, was pretty widely praised for being just as long as it needed to be. It’s a great game, partially because it doesn’t overstay its welcome and ask players to grind through repeat exercises demonstrating mastery over and over again to get to another piece of the story.

  17. Pingback: Killed in a Smiling Accident. » Blog Archive » Beast, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Beast, said he.

  18. I am one of those people who get class envy. I am always thinking that the other class is better at healing or fighting or even looks better in their armour.

    I remember that when I played AD&D you had a stable of characters.

    This is how I play at the moment, switching from class to class as I feel the need. Although it does mean that some classes never get played or rarely progress unless I concentrate on them.

    I would really be interested in an MMO that when you bought it you bought one class and that was it. It would be interesting what would be le on the shelf in the store.

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