Monday, January 9, 2012

Burnout: MMO Edition

In ten days my subscription to a certain brand new science fiction / space opera MMORPG will renew for the first time.

I haven't played in six days.

There are, let's be honest, two types of gamer: completionists and the rest of us. You probably already know which type you are, so I'll forego the analysis and diagnostic fee. What does this mean for an MMO, though? How does your game playing style shift in light of a massive and socially-driven game?

Personally, I've found a few areas where it's different enough to note...

  • The more people I play with, the more I play.

There’s an odd dynamic in MMOs where people who profess to love the PvE or solo style of gameplay find themselves forced into social situations in order to get better gear rewards, to rank up faster, etc. Those of us who prefer social gameplay in the first place, however, are likely to burn out on solo mission after solo mission.

I find this manifesting itself in my single player games as the need to discuss and share gaming experiences. At this point I just can’t play Skyrim without chatting about it later with my mates on IRC.

  • Repetition is the key to learning—and to burnout.

Undoubtedly, some day we’ll see an MMORPG that truly has no repeated content. No need to do the same mission over and over with different flavor text, no need to repeat a dungeon or flashpoint, no reason to go back to an area you’ve already “cleared” because you missed some key piece of equipment. Some day. Not today.

On this point I hold a purely speculative opinion. Not being a completionist, I cannot state for fact whether or not completionists actually enjoy repetition. Personally, I find it enjoyable the second or maybe the third time, but after that, I need new stimulation.

  • “There’s always a bigger fish.”

While not a completionist, I do consider myself a hobby-addict. There are far too many enjoyable activities to confine myself to just one of them every day. What I find is that single player games tend to lend themselves more to the occasional binge or the play once a week style, whereas an MMO almost requires daily interaction.

New games come out all the time. As do new movies, books, comics, gadgets, phones, and so on. We’ll call it attention deficit—ooh! Shiny.

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