Thursday, September 15, 2011


Now, before I write a second story bricks post tomorrow and before I write a desperately needed "Choice II" post, here's what I came to think about while I was trying to decide which game to play this evening. I ended up writing this blog post ...

Most people like to jump into games and just have fun. It's no different for MMORPG players. Sure, we also like to 'work' for a goal that is worth it (and non-frustrating and keeps the mind busy), but sometimes we, too, just want to have fun.

Of course, we are still starved for a MMORPG that feels worth our time investment. So just like everybody else, I have been playing other games recently. Deus Ex 2 and Crysis 2 were good games, but I finshed them very fast. Playing a second time is difficult as I am bored by the stories.

So my main game for the last few months whenever I “just wanted to have fun” was Civilization V. Thank god they didn't add a developer-made story there yet! But all this games-playing leaves a sad taste in my mouth. I feel like I am getting nowhere. Like I am not investing in something. And of course my feelings are perfectly correct; I am not.

For MMORPGs this means that they can and should offer short-term distractions, like grinding mobs, doing BGs or questing. And if these isolated activities are fun in themselves that's great. But what really makes the difference is that I feel like I am building something.

This not only keeps the mind busy (anticipation of future rewards/fun – very powerful!). It also increases the value of my goals. But I don't want to get too technical in this post. I just wanted to tell you that all the games on my computer feel like meaningless distractions right now. And I am not used to that after half a decade of MMORPG playing.


  1. AHEM.....

    1st definition from Merriam-Webster, for "game":

    activity engaged in for diversion or amusement

    So the fact that games are meaningless distraction seems to be quite self-evident....

  2. Definitions of "game" are notoriously difficult. Is a soccer player playing a game (engaging in a meaningless distraction) or working for his money?

    Is the fan who is breaking down in tears after watching his team lose engaging in a meaningless distraction? Does he have fun crying? Would he want to watch his team if he didn't care enough to cry when they lose?

    Take a look at the wikipedia article:

    "Ludwig Wittgenstein was probably the first academic philosopher to address the definition of the word game. In his Philosophical Investigations,[5] Wittgenstein demonstrated that the elements of games, such as play, rules, and competition, all fail to adequately define what games are. Wittgenstein concluded that people apply the term game to a range of disparate human activities that bear to one another only what one might call family resemblances."

  3. Probably "game" is used for anything which does not result in immediate survival value (= doesn't provide food or equivalent, like money). Which is why an activity can be "work" for someone (who must do it in order to eat) and "game" for someone else (who does it just because he wants to do it). Soccer is a game when you play with friends for the sake of it. When it's multi-million euro contracts, it's another story.

    Whatever the case, when something becomes life-changing (as your example of the fan breaking down in tears), for me it's not a game anymore, and it's the moment to ask yourself some questions.

  4. It's different for me. I like my hobbies to be life-changing. I want to want to change my schedules due to them.
    I don't want to feel like doing something meaningless with my time.

  5. How can explicit games be meaningless yet MMORPGs be meaningful? You "invest" in an MMO only to quit years later with little value extracted? You can claim you have stories, but you can also claim stories from traditional games. At the end of the day, both are forms of entertainment designed to be distractions. I don't understand how you can pull the wool over your eyes with respect to MMORPGs.

  6. Motstandet, I'm just reporting how I feel. And I claim that this is what is important.

    Do I think that some games are important? No.

    Do I feel that my activities in some games are important to me and do I enjoy this feeling? Yes.

  7. "You can claim you have stories, but you can also claim stories from traditional games."
    Traditional games, being so often either single-player or lobby-based with few long-term ties, lack the ability to add "we" to stories.

    We is an important word when telling a story.

  8. o_O?

    No one talks about epic games of Risk or their D&D sessions? No one talks about awesome nights of TF2? A co-worker is so excited about Double-Headed dragon in that MTG Planeswalker 2011 game for PS3, that he comes into my office every day to tell me of some amazing game he and his friend had the previous night.

    The stories that matter are not created by the game designers--they emerge from the game rules themselves.

  9. "The stories that matter are not created by the game designers--they emerge from the game rules themselves."

    I wholeheartedly agree.
    And of course there are non-MMORPG games that can become important to us.