Tobold's Blog
Friday, June 11, 2010
 
Married or just fooling around?

What is your relationship to your favorite MMORPG? Are you married to one, or are you just fooling around and carry on with several of them?

What I observe more and more, is a culture in which the dedication you show towards a single game and character gives you status in the eyes of other players. Everything players in MMORPGs are so proud about is stuff they acquired because they spent more time and effort on achieving it. Thus they concentrate on a single game and a single character and advance him as much as possible.

For me that way of playing isn't all that much fun. I believe that you can not actually "achieve" anything in a video game. Even if you had the highest gearscore on your server and had killed the last boss in the game before everybody else, that all counts for absolutely nothing in the real world.

In my opinion games are for entertainment, not to "work" towards some virtual achievement. And to maximize entertainment value, it makes more sense to play several characters in one game, and sometimes even change games and try something new. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to log on and play a bit, that is actually what games are for. If you get a virtual reward for that playing, that can be fun. But in the end those virtual rewards are just pixels that count for nothing, and they are certainly not worth neglecting other parts of your life for.
Comments:
"I believe that you can not actually "achieve" anything in a video game. Even if you had the highest gearscore on your server and had killed the last boss in the game before everybody else, that all counts for absolutely nothing in the real world."

It's the personal achievement that matters, not how much it counts in the real world.

If you climb up world's highest mountains or visit every country in the world, does that count for something either? For people who do this kind of thing, the entertainment value comes from these personal achievements, the feeling that they were able to clear the goals they set for themselves.

That's what I'd call Living. Going out to hang with your friends or playing games casually is fun, but personal goals to clear are much more satisfying.

I wouldn't say that MMO's are the best kind of example of this, but to some people it's the only way. I set goals for myself in MMO's and RL, and achieving them gives me much more enjoyment and 'purpose' than just 'hanging out' for my whole life.

Everyone is different though.
 
I'm not into achieving anything in WoW or these games. I play for enjoyment.

It's just easier for me to play one game than several games. All of these MMOs require a steep time investment, so I can't really invest that time in many games.

So WoW's my choice until I'm convinced there's a better MMO. When I tire of WoW, I cancel and do other things -- play another (non-MMO) game, read more, get out more, etc. And sooner or later I get the itch for WoW again so I re-sub.

I think that's likely to be my pattern. I'll play one MMO and play other non-MMOs. I don't ever see myself playing more than one MMO with any seriousness. Something will unseat WoW eventually, but until then I'll be an off-again, on-again WoW player.
 
Honestly, people who go through life measuring things by the amount of socially acceptable “achievements” they accomplish depress me. We only work to be content (for the most part), our ultimate goal is joy, and many real life achievements are just as superficial as one in a game because humans create the feeling, it isn’t something inherently latent in the world. Anything you achieve in a game can be just as worthy as in real life if it makes you happy. Obviously RL has more potential though, mostly because the people you care about are physically accessible and our world has more variables than a game world.

Instead of a logic-based “these factors make me happy” living vicariously through yourself mentality, those of us who still have the ability to still feel pure joy are probably neither married nor fooling around because we haven’t labeled our enjoyment. So from your perspective I’m a little of both, building a character up and playing multiple characters can be fun to me at different times in different measures.
 
I've always fooled around with the games I play. Not that I've always been conscious of it.

I mean, in my mind I'm totally dedicated to a game. I truly care about it. But when a brand new, good-looking game comes along, I just can't help myself.

My friends all try to persuade me to stick with the one I decided to make a commitment too, but they just don't understand me. I love the pursuit. I love the newness you just can't get from the same old thing you deal with day-in, day-out. I love learning new things about myself, even if that means I have to learn it through another game.

I guess I'm just lying to myself when I say that I'm committed to a game once I've started playing it. Deep down, I know it's not true. I realize time is fleeting, and that one game can't possibly fulfill all my needs throughout my life. I think you have to lie to yourself to ever believe that.

But time and time again, I'm happily involved in solely one game, promising myself that I'll be as loyal as I can, for as long as I can. Yet I know it won't last forever. And I don't want to admit it, least of all to myself. Sometimes I think the game knows it before I do. At times I'm even sure that everyone else around me knows it before I do.

Ultimately, I don't think us mere humans are capable of truly playing only one game throughout our lives. While some of us may do so, I think that some of it is tradition, with a heavy dose of inertia acting to keep the status quo.

But I do believe that we can all find what we are looking for in a game, even if that means we have to find it in multiple games throughout our lives.

And I don't think that is a bad thing. I think it is a part of growing - it's a part of life. We should all be cognizant of how great it is that we're able to do such things. And no one should ever let you feel guilty about it.
 
If my entire life outside of work consisted of meaningless, casual things, I'd consider myself a very unhappy person.
 
Or, let's put it like this:
I cannot get joy out of things that don't mean something to me. Therefore I don't engange in superficial (casual) activities if I can avoid it.

Consequently, the computer games I play mean something to me. My avatars mean something to me. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
 
Happily single more often than not. I'll date here and there, but most of the time it doesn't go past a first or second date no matter how good things looked on paper and at this point I approach things with a healthy cynicism. WoW is my friend with benefits.
 
Playing an MMO or any game isn't a choice between Achievment or Fun as many more casual players seem to imply.

Whilst some players wouldn't have fun striving to clear HM ICC or whatever other personal goal they have set, for many players challenging themselves to achieve these goals is what makes it fun.

Personally if I played several different MMO's at a low level I think I would of quit a long time ago as I wouldn't be having fun.

It always strikes me as incrfedibly arrogant of "casual" players to assume that they have a monopoly of fun and that what is fun for them is fun for everyone.
 
So what if what I 'achieve' in my games means nothing in the real world. Does anything you 'achieve' in the real world matter either? I mean does it REALLY matter? You can go to work every day and at the end of the week you can say you 'achieved' what? Wealth? Self-satisfaction? Happiness? If you were to tally everything you accomplish in your lifetime, what will it add up to? What can you say you've 'achieved' with your life?

In the end, whatever you choose to do and whether or not you consider it an 'achievement' or not is up to you and only you. No one else has the right to tell you what you can or can not value as an 'achievement'. Whether or not it's getting to the level cap in your favorite game or something as complex as curing cancer.
 
I think I'm married to WoW, have been for 5 years (lucky the wife is also then). But right now it's stale and I am bored. So I'm kinda fooling around with my lifetime LOTRO (had it a couple of years, never got too far, but being lifetime, it's always there, no questions asked) and really enjoying it.
 
WoW is like my fat girlfriend, I love her to death, but keep her hidden from my friends.

I think the main reason for playing a game so dedicated are the feelings that come with accomplishing achievements over and over. Also our handicap of not being able to admit that it's just trivial and a waste of time contributes to more wasting of time.
 
Also our handicap of not being able to admit that it's just trivial and a waste of time contributes to more wasting of time.

I think it is the other way round. If you read Tobold's post ( and others), he overstated how trivial it is.

It is like telling your friends that you have been on the top of mount everyest during holidays, only to add that this, is of course, completely trivial and a waste of time.

Yes, it is! Like most other things you have ever done and probably will ever do. Get over it!
 
I don't give a flying fig what anyone else in any MMO I play thinks about my "achievements" and I couldn't care less what they think they have "achieved".

My characters are primary. I am interested in them, their history, their progress. I am still, regularly, playing characters I created two, five, ten years ago in many different MMOs. I am developing them, enjoying them, appreciating them.

They do not in any kind of competetive context whatsoever and I don't find that they are treated as though they ought to be, except possibly in WoW, which is one of the very few MMOs I've played where strangers seem to pay any attention to another character's gear.

I can log in a seven year old character in Everquest wearing gear that was low-end ten expansions ago and get on with my business without anyone sending me tells about what I *ought* to be wearing (something that happened quite a few times in WoW even at low levels).

When I finish this post I'm going to log in my Halfling Warrior that I made back when the Tholuxe Paells server started in EQ. I got her to level 9 back then, which must have been 7 or 8 years ago and she's now level 13. She's just one of a myriad of characters on a score of MMOs that I am still "working on".

To answer your question, I'm married to my characters. The MMOs they are in are just the places we go when we go out together.
 
I guess I'm married to Champions Online, since I bought the cow (life time sub), but I play other games. If anything, I have games that I consistently return to, and I am not often baited by new games. Usually by the time I play a game, it will have been a year or so since it was released.
 
Your blog post sounds to me like you are burnt out on the game you play.

Sure, I agree no achievement in a game really changes a life, earns me money etc, but online fun and satisfaction is as real as any other entertainment.
 
I've achieved a fair number of things that you might count as impressive in "Real Life". I've also co-led a raid group through downing the Lich King.

I list the latter as one of the accomplishments I'm more proud of over the last few years. It improved my leadership skills, my determination, my reflexes, my tactical accumen, my social skills and my approach to learning.

As various other people have pointed out, it's no less "real" than winning a chess championship, for example, or even completing a particularly difficult project at work.
 
You can go to work every day and at the end of the week you can say you 'achieved' what? Wealth?

Schala, I think Tobold may have meant just that. Getting things right in an MMO gives you the same sense of satisfaction and joy as when you do well at work, but it won't get you paid. In fact, you're actually paying money to get there. Just like you would to get to the top of Mount Everest (although killing the Lich King is certainly a lot cheaper than that!).

So Tobold, are you pulling a Gevlon on us again? Money is all that counts?

And Oxymustard, it's not nice to keep your girlfriend locked up, fat or not ;)
 
I highly doubt Tobold intended to say that an achievement is only an "achievement" if you make money off it.

No one could be so ignorant.

You even say yourself that Everest would *cost* you money; so is that not an achievement?

Anyways to answer the question: I would never consider myself married to any game, ever.

Not to mention right now my schedule is so hectic that I barely have time for match of MW2, let alone play an MMO.
 
WoW and I are taking a 'break' right now. We still hang out, but I've been seeing EVE and Call of Duty on the side. I'm starting to get serious about EVE, but she seems like a big commitment, and I'm wary after how WoW has treated me.
 
I tend to treat games more like a sport. I always played sports growing up, but I don't anymore, and gaming has taken the place of that in my life. Therefore things like spending time practicing, preparing (reading about strategy or whatever outside the game), and "playing to win" are how I approach it. I know not everyone likes that method, but I undoubtedly get the most enjoyment out of a game when I treat it this way. What many people call just playing "for fun" is...not fun...for me, it just feels slow, boring, and frustrating.
 
"Even if you had the highest gearscore on your server and had killed the last boss in the game before everybody else, that all counts for absolutely nothing in the real world... But in the end those virtual rewards are just pixels that count for nothing, and they are certainly not worth neglecting other parts of your life for."

Fairly sure every pro gamer, and especially those making more money with pixels than you do at your job, would disagree. Fairly sure just about all of Korea would also disagree here.

'Achievement' means different things to different people. That you find your time in an MMO to ultimately be meaningless is fine (if a bit sad given the amount of time you do spend with them), but I'm fairly sure a lot of people have made good friends, memories, and relationships through them, just like others have gotten through tough times with the help of their online community.

Plus, people still talk about that championship game they won in HS, or some great vacation they went on a few years back. How is sharing the excitement of a high-point in an MMO among friends any different, or any less of an 'achievement' in real life?
 
And to maximize entertainment value, it makes more sense to play several characters in one game

This is very arguable IMO. Quantity over quality? Not always. You can't really say that to maximize the value, it makes more sense to eat every single dish on offer in a restaurant because if you don't like a certain dish, ordering/eating it will not add any value to you.

Same with video games. In MMORPG, those who like playing as a tank might not enjoy playing as a healer. Thus, it's more valuable to play as a tank and receive entertainment from it rather than playing a healer and be unhappy about it.

But in the end those virtual rewards are just pixels that count for nothing, and they are certainly not worth neglecting other parts of your life for.

This, I agree with wholeheartedly. I login to MMORPG once or twice a week to play (or even just chat) with my friends. Other than that, I hardly bother doing end-game stuff that require more commitment than my real-life job. It saddens me to see some people play almost 24/7.
 
J. DangerouS,

Yes, I completely agree with you. Which does make it hard to understand what Tobold means by saying that you cannot "achieve" anything in a video game, claiming that it "counts for absolutely nothing in the real world".

I met Reinhold Messner once. Clearly, he felt that he had achieved something, and that it did count in the real world. His climbing career certainly had certainly cost him much by way of personal effort and pain. Yet I wouldn't be surprised if he's in a way *less* famous than Kungen, whom I believe was/is the guild leader of one of the elite guilds in WoW. What is the "real world"?

Tobold's answer in these situations is usually that it is just his opinion. A climber who climbs Everest achieves something that counts in *his* real world, while a player who kills the Lich King doesn't. Fair enough.

But the scale of the achievement sought also bears some relation to the personal investment required. I'd be willing to take a bet that Everest expeditions, relatively speaking, have caused more divorces and ruined lives than WoW. So whether the rewards are virtual or not, Tobold's advice is sound: don't neglect those parts of your life that you value highly if you are eager not to lose them.
 
Most achievements, no matter in what world they are, do no 'matter'. When I was younger I built gigantic and clearly awesome lego ships; a great achievement, with no apparent value.
 
It seems people seem to value achievements/things more when they are not connected to a computer game.

I have taken a lot of stick from colleagues about playing WoW, but those same colleagues go on and on about what is going on in Eastenders, Emmerdale or any one of the other myriad soaps they watch. But that seems to be more acceptable.
 
For me, WoW is like a cheating girlfriend that I keep taking back. Its all fun for a while, we run dungeons, get some sweet gear, maybe a new mount. Then once I've settled into a semblance of a relationship all the warts start to show. I'm reminded of all the reasons I quit in the past: not in a raiding guild, players are jerks/elitists, never have enough gold, not much to do in endgame. Eventually it just stops being fun and I break it off again.
 
I highly doubt Tobold intended to say that an achievement is only an "achievement" if you make money off it.

What matters is your impact on other people. Thus a happy marriage is an achievement, although it doesn't make any money.

I think you give too much credit to video game achievements if you compare them to climbing Mount Everest. Obviously video games are much, much easier, and require a lot less determination and physical stamina. And from the point of view of impact, I'd rather compare being the best WoW player on your server to something like getting into the Guiness Book of Records for having stood on one leg longer than anyone else.

Your blog post sounds to me like you are burnt out on the game you play.

Actually I'd say that I'm less burned out than most of the "achievers", because playing a lot of alts increases replay value.
 
WoW is my ex. We were together for 4 years, but then broke up amicably. She's my longest-term relationship, and I have nothing bad to say about her.

But Tobold says: "What I observe more and more, is a culture in which the dedication you show towards a single game and character gives you status in the eyes of other players."

Is that really true? Haven't people been comparing themselves against others in MMO's long before WoW?
 
I was once married to WoW. He was my first. But he tired me. Casual encounters with new strangers became too exciting to ignore. I've turned into a cold hearted snake. I will use a game to get quick visual satisfaction. Bore me for a second and I will hop to the next. It doesnt' matter what system, I want to try them all. I guess I'm what you call a "player" literally.
 
And from the point of view of impact, I'd rather compare being the best WoW player on your server to something like getting into the Guiness Book of Records for having stood on one leg longer than anyone else.

Subtle change from "counts for absolutely nothing". I do like your iterative thought process, Tobold. ;)
 
What matters is your impact on other people. Thus a happy marriage is an achievement, although it doesn't make any money.
---

I think you give too much credit to video game achievements if you compare them to climbing Mount Everest.

---

So climbing Mount Everest without anybody being affected by it (quite likely) is worth nothing, but worth much more than playing a (sandbox) MMO ?

.. .. ..
 
Spoken like a true casual ;)

and Hobonicus is impressively intellectual with his comment, and I happen to agree with him 100%
 
"What matters is your impact on other people. Thus a happy marriage is an achievement, although it doesn't make any money.

I think you give too much credit to video game achievements if you compare them to climbing Mount Everest. Obviously video games are much, much easier, and require a lot less determination and physical stamina. And from the point of view of impact, I'd rather compare being the best WoW player on your server to something like getting into the Guiness Book of Records for having stood on one leg longer than anyone else."

Firstly, you grossly misinterpreted my post. I wasn't making those points myself, but *responding to someone else's post*. I was defending your post by pointing out that the person above me had misread your intents.

Secondly, you have apparently failed to read a great number of posts that point out a flaw in your argument: The scale for measuring the "impact" of an achievement is purely subjective.

While most would agree that climbing Everest is a monumental achievement, its simply an aberrant example. The vast majority of people and *us MMO players* in particular will never do such a thing, or any other similarly amazing achievement.

When you speak of RL achievements/success it is more than implied you mean more realistic situations, possibly in your career or other places. Perhaps to *you* that is the most important thing, but you are in no way qualified to decide what is important to everyone.

Basically, it is up to each and every person on their own to decide what they consider an "achievement".

Personally, I wouldn't play MMOs as extensively as yourself if I considered it such a waste of time. I can barely make time for them at all with so many things taking priorities. But when I do I only do things or play games that will be worthwhile on my *personal* scale.
 
Fun vs achievement? Why can"t it be both? It is for me!

The same applies to anything in life, be it sports, work, friends, etc. I can mow my grass for "fun" or I can try to get the best lawn in the neighbourhood. Sure, it might be work and people may scoff it means nothing in the "real world" but then, each of us uses a different yard stick for what is real. MMOs are a mirror Tobold -- they count because some people choose to give them meaning.
 
Seems to me people max out their gear and mounts just to park in doorway of auction house or stand in middle of street in Dalaran.
 
Quite simply, Tobold is correct, even if he is being mischievious. Obviously a raw nerve here :) Video games, while fun if you like 'em, are vastly simplified versions of real life. So must all our narratives be. It's what we do: tell stories to explore the unknowns and the unknowables. If you really have something to prove to the world or yourself, then play 'Real Life'. It's what it's for. Write a book or something. Become a really good doctor or nurse. The list is endless. Play games for fun, to escape the endless complications of real life for a while. It's what they're for. It's why they're simplified versions of RL. No time to live more that one RL.
 
Regarding the whole achievement/meaning discussion that's broken out...

I see WoW being as engaging as any real life game as far as the complexity and attention involved. To the extent it is "meaningless" its because it's often done with a pool of anonymous strangers.
 
@Miri

A lot of people think like this. To me it sounds like a shallow preaching of social conformity, but these people are usually so unaware of my perspective that they can’t even fathom it. It’s like trying to explain a color they’ve never seen. Video games are only simplified versions of real life because there exists the potential to experience the same emotions you can experience in “real life”. In either case, it’s you experiencing it. The emotion didn’t float into your head from real life, your own sense of meaning created it from nothing. You speak of Real Life like it has an inherent purpose and you separate real life and video games with labels which makes you assume there’s some inherent difference to how we experience them. Since we individually give everything in real life (including video games) meaning, personal goals and feelings cannot be labeled as right or wrong by a third party.

Like I mentioned disagreeing with earlier, a lot of people measure life with achievements, similar to you suggesting real life is for proving something to the world or yourself. This is the majority perspective. It's easy to understand and keeps nations from collapsing, but it does nothing for me personally.

For me, I’d consider plenty of activities in video games more worthwhile than becoming a doctor, because I don’t want to be a doctor. It doesn’t make me happy. Since the discussion is mostly about fun in an MMO, this isn’t something that can be decided on a larger scale than yourself. You cannot claim a correct answer in such a subjective discussion, and while I know that is wearisome to say, it holds especially true here.

In short, you can’t decide the right way for me to feel just because you have been provided an easy perspective shared by the majority. If something is enjoyable to me, then it is the greatest thing ever at that time.
 
Wow that ended up being long. For the record, I’m not some crazy conspiracy nut or anything, so try to read my post like I’m just as normal as you.
 
This morning, I like Hobonicus!

Also, real life sucks right about now. I'd like a dose of something else. Virtual selves never get hangovers, nor do they get to sleep on the couch. I like them for that.
 
What if we like virtual world advancement so much because it's like work? I think we turn to the virtual world for advancements and achievements because it's so difficult to find a path for advancement in real life. Since our need for advancement isn't easily met at work we do work-like activities in MMOs to gain some straight forward advancement.
 
125 guilds have downed hard mode LK. Assuming 25 people per guild, that's 3,125 people in the entire world.

http://www.wowprogress.com/

Over 5,000 people have climbed Mount Everest

This year alone, 470 people reached the top of the 29,029ft high mountain, taking the total number of summits since that first ascent past the 5,000 mark.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/7806044/Everest-abandon-hope-all-ye-who-climb-it.html

Clearly WoW is more important!
 
also

/sarcasm


the point is, it's childish to value the experience of playing one thing intently vs. many things casually. I'm sure your total time /played matches up there with many hardcore single-game MMO players. If you're enjoying yourself and not letting your financial/biological self suffer doing it, who the hell cares how the time is spent?
 
This 'only pixels' thing bugs me more and more lately.

I have a beta launch of a big website project on Monday. If things go horribly, horribly wrong, do I tell my client that it's 'just pixels'?

Or does it stop being 'just pixels' when you're paid for it, but remain 'just pixels' when you pay? Or is it the entertainment that's the thing?

Ommmm!
 
I disagree, for many of the same reasons why people don't fool around.

It's a choice between a shallow or a deep experience. You simply cannot get the sense of a MMO by flipping it on once in awhile. But to be part of a community and to know and be affected by things others are is what matters.

If you are just playing shallow, MMOs don't offer much other online games can't. So I'll always marry mine.
 
I'm addicted on a korean MMORPG, but this addiction is like a drug, malefic or not good for the health.

I already tried to stop playing it some periods but after some months or weeks I always reinstall the game again. The game itself is not fun anymore, because the company is ruining it, forcing players to play their others games, but I simply cant leave this game anymore, wtf!

Currently, only addicted people, mental disordes, idiots or who are making money are playing this game, because it doesn't give any more fun.
 
The design of most MMOs is at odds with your belief as they tend to be treadmills for character advancement. In principle, I agree that MMOs, and games in general, should be about fun. But many MMOs bog you down and place obstacles in your path which are not fun, and merely exist to keep you playing longer.

"I believe that you can not actually "achieve" anything in a video game. Even if you had the highest gearscore on your server and had killed the last boss in the game before everybody else, that all counts for absolutely nothing in the real world."

I usually find your blog quite insightful and well thought out but this comment is myopic. It's akin to saying any sort of hobby counts for nothing.

It's not really true either as many high end players cash out and receive alimony when they divorce their MMO.

I believe that many social lessons can be learned in MMO guilds, and that usually occurs by being part of the best. You learn how to deal with clashing egos, selfish people, and the list goes on. Definitely things that can help in the real world.
 
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