I didn’t really make a Decision to stop playing MMOs. It just kind of happened, mostly due to an economic crunch that has since eased. I keep thinking “Now I can afford a sub again!” and Angela would love me to rejoin her and our friends in EQ2, and I keep saying I will… but I don’t.
I missed MMOs for a few weeks, but then I started feeling a kind of lightness of being. Like some weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It has taken me a while to figure out what’s going on, and I think it has a lot to do with the out-of-game cost of playing an MMO, namely keeping up to date on changes and feeling a vague pressure to ‘keep up’ (or ahead) of the curve, or even just feeling like “I’m paying for it, I should play it.” At least I think that’s what’s going on. I’m still not 100% sure.
Maybe I was burnt out without realizing it, and this feeling is just the burnout lifting? Whatever it is, it feels good, like a long-standing care has been lifted.
But what’s even stranger is the social impact this has had on my life. Now keep in mind I’m a die-hard solo player in MMOs; one of those people that is often told he should be playing a single player game since they’re much better than playing an MMO solo.
First of all, they aren’t better. Not for me. I keep starting single player RPGs and finding them unfulfilling. Even critically acclaimed games like Fallout 3 just feel empty and dead. I haven’t gotten very far in Fallout 3, just in Megaton, but when I hit that town and all I see are NPCs following their pre-programmed wander routes, it just feels lonely and pointless in a way that MMOs never do, even when I’m not talking to or interacting with other players. Other players add life to the experience, even without direct interaction. Single player RPGS just aren’t as compelling. (Though I loved Fable 2, but I think the difference was that I was also playing an MMO at the time, so I had that ‘living world’ itch being scratched elsewhere.)
Anyway, back to the social impact. My RSS feed is filled with MMO bloggers. Lots of them have been writing long, well-considered posts about MMO design, how to move the state of the games forward, what’s broken and how to fix it. Really thought-provoking stuff.
And I just don’t care.
And that makes me really sad, because a mere few weeks ago I was enjoying the hell out of debating these points with these smart people. And now, I just find I have nothing to add to the conversation, and even find myself sometimes thinking these people are wasting their energy in debating this stuff. Huh? Where are THOSE thoughts coming from? I *love* being an armchair game designer! Anyway, this all leads to my standing on the sidelines watching, and I no longer feel like part of the community of MMO bloggers. That carries a great sense of loss.
And, as an add-on to that, I’m not posting a lot here, either. Now a big part of that is the blogging gig at ITWorld. My ‘word bag’ has only so many words in it every day, and I’m finding it’s pretty low on words by the time I get done a day at work, a day of twittering, and written a blog post or two (9 posts in the past week over there). My ‘hour bag’ runs low, too. I’ve been meaning to write this post for several days but just don’t find both available time and available energy intersecting conveniently.
On the bright side of all this, I’m re-discovering the joys of (non-rpg) single player games. I’ve been playing the hell out of this little “Aquia” game on the new DSiWare platform, and am finding Rune Factory Frontier (the latest “Harvest Moon” game for the Wii) to be incredibly compelling.
I think I need to just follow my muse and morph Dragonchasers into a single player gaming blog for a while. I’m not sure what that will do to the audience…will having ‘off-topic’ posts drive away people who would stay subscribed to a quiet RSS feed? I guess I’ll find out. I mean I’ve always been a little bit ‘all over the place’ with my book reviews and the odd “check out these neat thing” posts, but Dragonchasers never really took off until I really started focusing on MMOs.
Every day brings new adventure, though. Doing the ITWorld Blog has felt incredibly rewarding and is, I think, helping me to slowly get my writing chops back. And the money from it is what ended the financial crunch I referenced above, so both artistically and fiscally, I’m very, very grateful that gig fell in my lap. Maybe some day I can transition to writing full time. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.
PS Props to anyone who got the B5 reference in the title of this post. Vorlons FTW!