Breaching the gap

So it’s Friday. My daily post for IT World is written. Guinea pig houses are cleaned. Shopping done…in short, all my chores are done. Time for some gaming. But what to play?

I have no clue. And this has become a pattern in my life; one that I’m not sure how to break.

There’s a kind of inertia to my game playing, I’ve found. Once I pick up a game, I can enjoy the heck out of it as long as I keep playing it. But once I take a break, my focus drifts and I start gazing at new gaming horizons with a feeling of longing. And that’s a problem these days.

Let me back up a little. My fulltime job runs 36 hours/week these days. I divvy that up as 4 9-hour days, Mon-Thursday. Then I have my blogging job, where I’ve committed to 1-2 posts/day for IT World during the week. So in theory, Friday I have a couple blog posts to write, but otherwise Fri-Sun is me-time (of course that isn’t always true…both jobs sometimes slop over into weekends)

So assume I’m really enjoying a game over a weekend. Then I hit Monday when I have both jobs to do. By the time I get to the gaming part of the day its often after 10 pm and sometimes as late as 11. I still squeeze in a bit of whatever game I’m playing though. Ditto on Tuesday. But usually by Wednesday and Thursday, the fatigue of the work week has built to the point where I just don’t have the energy to keep going so late, so I don’t get any gaming in on those days.

By Friday, it’s been a couple days since I’ve done any gaming, and four since I’ve really been deeply immersed in the last game I’m playing. My inertia is shot to heck as I’ve been hearing all kinds of interesting gaming news for a week, while not ‘reinforcing’ my habit of playing my current game. Does that make sense?

So I’ll feel like starting something new, but at the same time I know I have 2-3 days before the cycle starts all over again. And I find it really hard to return to a game I’ve started and put down in the past. That shiny new game smell has worn off (I’ll be past all the tutorials but won’t really remember all the nuances of how to play, or in the case of an RPG I won’t remember the story or what I was supposed to be doing to finish whatever quests I’m on.)

Often I’ll end up watching TV or reading rather than playing. And then at the end of the weekend feel like I’ve squandered my time because I didn’t get any good gaming in.

I’m not sure what the solution is to this problem, but what’s more interesting is wondering if this “gaming inertia” is something unique to me, or if others experience it too. I kind of think they do, because I’ve seen people who’ve been fanatical MMO players forced to take a break for a few days (for a business trip or family holiday, say) come back and no longer have any urge to play the same game that was driving their lives before the break.

I guess what I need is for developers to start designing ‘bite-sized’ games that still offer a lot of depth. I know there’s a big debate over game length, but frankly I’d rather have a great 15 hour game that I could finish over a weekend, than have an 80 hour epic journey that I’m never going to finish, or even get into the real meat of.

What about you? Can you set a game down for a long period of time and pick right up where you left off, or do you suffer from a gaming inertia problem, too?

6 thoughts on “Breaching the gap

  1. I’ve been on an MMO break (actually damn near a PC gaming break) for roughly two months, with only the occasional dabbles in LOTRO to pay for my house and work on the occasional reputation daily quest. I’m looking forward to getting back and doing content with my kin but it’s not eating at me whatsoever. But then, I’ve been doing MMOs long enough to be able to just let go like that. I don’t have some burning *need* for an MMO to consume every waking thought anymore.

    That said, I’ve been console gaming and my Gamer ADD has been out in full force. But that’s fine. I have so many great games on both PC and 360, again, why should I need for only one title to consume my desires? I have something for nearly every taste and every mood I could possibly be in for gaming. And I can only see that as a Good Thing.

  2. Dream of Mirror Online and LotRO are like that for me. I was fanatical about DOMO and then had no time to play any MMO over the holidays and when I had a chance to play, I couldn’t get back into it. I know if I started playing it I’d soon be right back in the swing, but it’s WANTING too, you know? Plus, now that I am raiding in EQ2 again, the time for other games has been slashed, but I may quit EQ2 this summer in order to focus on other games. There are some upcoming games I won’t be able to ignore.

  3. I dabble with a lot of things, but the game that gets the most attention is FFTA2. I can play it almost anywhere, and the mission/quest structure means that it’s designed for bite-sized gaming. With my busy schedule, I really appreciate that. The next game that will get that sort of play time will likely be Puzzle Quest Galactrix.

  4. Games *seem* to be more addictive than they are, at least for me. While you’re playing them it seems like that’s all you want to do — but all I need to do to break that cycle is log off. Stay off for a few days and *poof* you can take it or leave it.

    Personally, I don’t WANT that feeling of having to play, of having to log in. I don’t want to spend my entire working day thinking about when I can log in and play, and what I’m going to do when I get there.

    So in that sense, your malaise seems to me like it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We ask for addiction, then we complain of burnout; I think as gamers we’ve become bingers, always looking for the next epicurean marvel to hit the table, eating like bastards, then turning away. “F*** off, I’m stuffed” as Mr Creosote would say 😉

    I understand what you mean — that feeling of “shall I play? WHAT shall I play? meeehhhh” and the desire to have games that start up fast and don’t require 45 minutes of foofing about before you can actually get anything done (be it crafting, killing, whatever). I suspect that’s a development direction we’ll see more of in the coming years. Sushi-size MMO!

    I feel a blog post coming on. Maybe. Meeeehhh. 😀

  5. When I played WoW, I experienced a similar “gaming inertia”. I would take a few days off or a full week off because of various obligations, and I’d come back wondering what had me so hooked in the first place. If I was determined to play, I was able to get back into the game fairly easily, but I always had that weird feeling when I first came back.

    Bite-sized MMOs would be fun. When I think of them now, I think of the free MMOs that are very under-developed. WoW’s daily quests felt like a good way to get the feeling of satisfaction without spending tons of time online. I’d like it if more games implemented something similar.

Comments are closed.