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Cycles

March 18, 2013

Dear Reader,

One of my commentators struck a chord last time with some others.  Tellah, an old friend, wrote

This is not an uncommon part of my gaming cycle. I’ll get into a game heavy, then I’ll drop playing it, often with nothing in game that triggers it. Just a matter of satiation, is how I’ve come to think about it. And, if the cycle holds true, I’ll get the urge and be hours deep into it again before I come up for air.

I wonder how often this is the pattern for gaming.  It certainly holds true for most of my experiences, but I’m curious if there are others out there who play differently.

I remember a while ago a blogger – I think it was Syp of Bio Break – decided to create an MMO rotation so that he wouldn’t get burned out on a particular game and would give fair time to each that had his interest.  I seem to recall it broke down not terribly long afterwards as he started noticing his desires to play certain games more than others.

Gaming, as a purely voluntary activity, is by its nature highly subject to our desirous whims.  When you’re given free time to do with what you please, consciously telling oneself to play game B instead of game A – which in your heart you know you prefer – will be challenging.  We might ask, in fact, if there’s any real reason not to give in to your game playing moods.  Until recently (with recently meaning the past decade or so), there really hasn’t been.  Now, though, thanks to MMOs, things have gotten a bit stickier due to perceived social obligations.

Regardless, this isn’t a post about that.  It’s about our gaming cycles, how our interest sparks a kind of devout intensity for something that makes playing something else seem impossible.  I’ve played like that before, but recently, I’ve been more spread out.  I have MTGO, LoL, WoW, and Deadlight.  I’d argue, too, that my buddy is a third type: a blasé consumer.  Nothing really sparks much for him at all, so he just sits and plays one game at a time start to finish to get it done.

Perhaps, then, passion is the difference.  Those gaming romantics among us become passionately involved with a game and play it until the fire burns out.  Others of us play the field a little, having preferences, but not committing to a single game because they’re searching for that perfect experience  that may not even exist.  The there’s those who’ve somewhat given up.  They’ve been there and seen that so often that nothing’s doing it for them anymore, so they just settle for whatever game is put in front of them, playing the days listlessly away.

Each has their own cycle.  The romantics, as Tellah describes, play intensely until they suddenly lose interest without warning or explanation, then move on, occasionally rekindling an interest in old games and repeating the cycle.  The searching players play games until they’re sure that a particular game isn’t the one, then occasionally spend a little more time to mop up any curiosities, then move on, pushing the old game, finished or, as likely, not, out of the group and bringing a new one in.  The blasé simply consume one game after another, commenting on their moderate successes or failings, but feeling little other than the slow passage of time.

Of course, there may be a bit of sensationalized rhetoric there.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and searching for his passion)

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2013 7:14 pm

    I always play WoW. Maybe a few times a week, maybe almost exclusively for a week. WoW is always included in my gaming for the week though.

    It’s almost like a separate hobby from “gaming” in a general sense. Because I play other games, much like the romantics you describe. I play them intensely (albeit alongside a little WoW) until I move on from them. Sometimes I go back to them. Examples would be Sims 3, Civ 5, Skyrim, Minecraft, TOR. I’ve spent considerable time in each of these.

    WoW always gets some time though, probably in part due to raiding “obligations.”

    • March 19, 2013 2:42 pm

      I’d agree that being deep into an MMO ceases to be purely gaming, and I’d suggest it’s because of the social nature of it (for most people). Since you’re forming real bonds in a digital game environment, your social bond programming kicks in, and you feel guilty when you’re NOT doing whatever needs to be done in WoW. Gaming is a purely voluntary activity, but not when you mix the social obligations in there, so I think you’re right; WoW’s something different.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. March 19, 2013 4:10 am

    I do think there’s a sort of cycle in my gaming habits, but it lasts years instead of months. Also, there’s always a tangible trigger that causes me to abandon my old game, usually some sort of change that slowly sucks the fun out of it for me.

    Within the one game that I’m dedicated to at any given time, I’ll frequently mix up different kinds of activities though.

    • March 19, 2013 2:43 pm

      You should do a post on “Why you quit every game you’ve ever really been into” or something with a more eloquent title. I did one like that a while ago, and it helped me sum up the problems I see with various games. It might be very enlightening for all of us!

      Thanks for the comment!

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