I argue with MMO bloggers a lot. Maybe I’m just old and set in my ways, but so much of what these youngsters say just rings so false to me…
One topic to always get me embroiled in an all-day rasslin’ match is this concept that most MMO publishers are just out to fleece their customers and they make MMO’s full of un-fun time sinks so that people will play longer and so keep subscribed.
I don’t agree with this argument. If the activities that bloggers refer to as “time sinks” aren’t fun to the players, then why don’t the players leave the game? Why stick around if you aren’t having fun? Anyway, I’ve argued that argument until I’m blue in the face. Not going to do it again, life is too short.
In fact, I’m throwing in the towel and I’m going to AGREE with these bloggers, but on condition that they cast their nets wider. It isn’t the MMOs are full of time sinks. GAMES are full of time sinks.
This struck me when I was reading In Praise of the 3-Hour Game (doh, no stretch there.. I sure can make mental leaps, eh?). In it, Wired’s Clive Thompson suggests that most (narrative driven) games are bloatware and shouldn’t run more than 4-5 hours. The argument goes that games cost a lot to make, so you have to charge $60 for them, so you have to fill them with time sinks to stretch out how long they take to play so that players feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth.
For the record, I don’t totally agree with Thompson either, but I agree with him more than I do with the bloggers. When I’m grinding levels in a Final Fantasy in order to take on the next boss, all I’m doing is grinding levels. Nothing unexpected is going to happen. Nothing else in game is going on. Compare that to grinding levels in an MMO. I never know what’s going to happen next. Maybe someone is going to come running past any minute, in need of help or something. And I’m probably talking with guildies or friends while I’m grinding, so even if nothing unexpected happens I’m still having a pleasing conversation.
In either case, people are paying to do time sinks. Either at $15/month, or with that big fat $60 fee up front. If the basis of the argument against time sinks is that time sinks aren’t fun, and we’ve established that both single and mmo games are full of time sinks, then why do we find games fun in the first place?
I mean, any non-gamer would tell you the entire game is a waste of time and a ‘time sink.’
I could do into this some more, but I have to go grind a couple more levels in Star Ocean: First Departure before I can take on the next boss. And y’know what? I’m really looking forward to playing after the day I’ve had.
# # # End gaming discussion # # #
To my friends: A while back I was apologizing about being so negative and all that and mentioned that my mom wasn’t doing too well. A few of you expressed concern, and that was very much appreciated. I just wanted to post a quick update. It’s been an on-going struggle since, as we’ve tried to motivate her to take care of herself. Funny thing I’ve learned. If a person is lucid, you can’t force them to help themselves. We’ve been trying like crazy to get her to check herself into the hospital but she wouldn’t. Then today she fell (not for the first time) and hit her head (the first time). Thank goodness someone happened to be there, and an ambulance was called, and now mom is *finally* in the hospital getting some medical attention. Tests will be run; they think she may have pneumonia, or worse (her white blood cell count is way low – she’s smoked like a fiend for close to 70 years…draw your own conclusions) but at least they have her eating and drinking.
I know it sounds weird to be ‘celebrating’ my mom landing in the hospital, but it feels like such a relief. She’d gotten to where she would choose not to answer the phone, and every time I called I’d get to worrying that she’d fallen or had just passed away and was laying there, or hoping she’d just decided she didn’t feel like talking to anyone (you wonder where I get my crankiness…the apple don’t fall far from the tree!) Thank goodness an old high school friend lives across the street and he’d check on her for us. I’m far less worried with her IN the hospital than I was when she was OUT of it.