Once again I’m riffing off other blogger’s titles. This time Moxie’s.
So I’ve kind of organically slid into a break from MMOs. I’m down to logging into Rift about once every two weeks at this point, generally with Angela who is still dabbling. Otherwise I’ve been playing single-player games.
I wasn’t sure why I’ve stopped being excited by MMOs, really, which lead to some introspection. What is it I’m looking for from my games? I think the answer to that question changes constantly, but here’s what I came up with right now.
Progress. There’re two levels of progress that I enjoy. The first is in-game. Advancing to a new zone, reaching a new level, learning a new skill. Basically ticking off a checkbox from a list. I think that’s a basic ‘itch’ in a lot of people; I’ve known folks who’ll go back and add ‘interrupt-driven tasks’ to their To-Do list after they’ve been completed, just so that they could then check them off.
I’ve had this itch since I was a kid, really. Before there were video games or personal computers, I’d undergo weird projects like re-typing a dictionary or a volume of an encyclopedia. Why? Well, clearly I was a crazy child, and loved the satisfaction of finishing a letter or whatever (in theory…I never got very far on these projects). Plus any excuse to use such a cool gadget as a typewriter…
The bigger Progress is finishing stuff. I love the feeling of satisfaction I get from finishing a game (or a book). I don’t (in the case of games) do this very often. I’m very ADD when it comes to games; my interests are extremely broad and my time is fairly limited. I literally don’t have time to play even a fraction of the games I’m interested in. But in a single player game, the possibility, at least, exists. You can certainly be ‘done with’ an MMO but you’re never going to see those closing credits, right?
The second thing I’m looking for is Narrative, or story. As has been pointed out by many people, a mediocre single player storyline is generally better than the best MMO stories, just because the world can morph and change to support the story and that one character who the story revolves around. MMOs have lore, but not a lot of story. This, at least, is true until you get to higher levels; I’ve heard about some pretty interesting storylines that happen in dungeons in some MMOs.
But I never get to dungeons since I play solo, so all the content in the dungeons of MMOs, which is often the best content (from what I read, anyway), may as well not exist as far as I’m concerned.
And that’s another issue. I’m a single-player gamer. I always have been. Again, going back to the days before video games, I used paper & cardboard chit wargames as a place to escape to in the way a lot of unhappy kids escape into books (I did some of that, too). I always preferred tactical games because I’d have stories in my head about the various units. Essentially I translated the make-believe games little kids perform with plastic army men into more elaborate make-believes stories about soldiers involved in house-to-house fighting in WWII, or the captains of tall ships sailing under Nelson’s flag. I was role-playing before there were role-playing games, I guess.
Here at the other end of my life, I’m reverting to the same kind of thing, in a more adult manner. After a long day of work and chores and work, I’m really enjoying slipping into someone else’s skin via playing a single player game. I *can* do that, to a certain extent, in an MMO, but it isn’t as peaceful. I always have people jarring me out of my reverie via just being people, y’know? (This is also one of the great strengths of MMOs; it’s all about context and what you need.) For the same reason, I have zero interest in playing non-MMO multiplayer games, even though when I hear twitter friends talking about their gaming sessions I feel a bit envious because it does sound like they’re having fun.
I generally get around to gaming time about 10 pm, though, and by then I’m feeling pressed for time so don’t want to have to fiddle about, and I’m sick and tired of dealing with people, even people who I love, so really need that alone time to recharge.
I’m also, honestly, tired of the MMO community as a community. There are a lot of MMO players out there who I am very legitimately fond of, but the ‘chorus’ of the community is starting to grate on me a bit. We just seem to recycle the same old arguments and debates and, when playing, I can’t help but be drawn in, almost against my will. Now that I’m not playing MMOs, a lot of the discussions (Is SW:TOR just WoW reskinned!!?!) just wash over me. I hear them, but I don’t really care about them enough to get into it.
Like Scopique, I’m just kind of tired of the bitching. Single player gamers bitch too, but I don’t know many of them so I don’t hear it very often.
Of course, the downside to all of this is that I no longer have a lot to say to my friends, which makes me worry that I’ll lose them as friends.
I also know that my gaming habits are like a huge pendulum, and eventually what I want from a game is going to be a vibrant, living world to explore, and those can only be found in MMOs, so eventually I know I’ll go back and I’ll be posting here about how lifeless and dull single player games are!