Monday, July 13, 2009

He plays it wrong

Every time I show a stupid behavior, I get the joker argument: "it's fun for him" or "he plays the game he wants". Actually "I do what's fun" is equal to "it's right because I think so", just sounds better. However this case I can say "he plays it wrong" without debate: Professor Beej describes (part2, part3) his playing as "addiction". Being addict is surely not fun or the "right way", so this time I'm safe from the "I do what's fun" trolls.

The current statement of medicine is there is no "game addiction" in the sense of alcohol or drug addiction. There are no detectable neurological or physiological changes in the body that compels the patient to carry on with his harmful actions and cannot stop without expert help. The "game addiction" is considered "lack of control" over his time spent.

I disagree. I think "game addiction" (playing unhealthy amounts, ignoring jobs, studies) is the consequence of "playing it wrong". There are lot of people who "plays it wrong" and they all suffer from it, even when they have the control to not play 15 hours/day. Such "healthy" people are feeling unaccomplished and empty after forcing themselves to log off. While they keep their play time limited, they spend it in a "wrong way" upholding the bad feelings. So playing for them is "not fun", despite they obviously claim the opposite. (see also "I smoke for fun, I could quit anytime").

"Playing it wrong" has two major points and Professor Beej declares them both. He obviously finds them true, and believes that other things cause his "addiction". With his pretty good words:
  • "The driving force in these games is a quantifiable increase in the power of your character through various types of progression"
  • "MMOs directly link this character progression with time spent in-game, thus making casual gameplay impossible if a player wishes to experience the highest levels of the game"
I claim that anyone who finds the above statements true:
  • spend most of their free time ingame
  • feel unaccomplished "wish I had more time"
  • unable to limit their game play without forcing themselves (and feel bad about it)
  • some of them are "game addicts", playing so much that it hurt their job or studies
  • unable to ever become (real) casual, they either quit the game or carry on with the above style
  • and above all, they are not really successful players
At first let's prove that the two harmful beliefs are factually false. The conscious point of any games is to win them. There are other points like improving skills (game or social) and to spend good time by gaining the state of flow ("having fun"). The sub-points cannot be achieved without trying to win, and (unless the task is very hard, which is unlikely in a popular video game) trying will lead to winning.

There are no "you won, game over" screen in MMOs. This is not strange among games. You cannot permanently win tennis either, even if you win the Grand Slam this year. There will be a next season. This case the "winning" can be described at your position on the chart of competitors. If you are on the top 100 list of tennis players of the World, you pretty much a "winner" in tennis and commonly perceived as a "great tennis player"

In video games, there are similar lists. In case of PvP, the arena rating places you somewhere on the spectra of players. In the top regions, armory directly places you on the list as "111th" or "2nd". In PvE, the wowprogress list tells how big percentage of the raiders did the achievements you have. While it's pretty much arbitrary, I think we can agree that being in the top 5% is pretty nice and we can call the person a "winner" of that style (PvP or PvE).

Have you seen any "character power" mentioned above? The belief in "gear progression" is a nonsense. Gear is a tool for winning. You would laugh on the tennis player who sais "I have a $10000 tennis racquet, a $5000 tennis shoe and a Vera Wang designed tennis skirt, so I am an awesome player".


The second statement is equally nonsense, even if someone falls for the first one. I play 4 hours a week with my main. 3.5 spent in Ulduar, other 0.5 spent enchanting the new gear, writing macros. Granted, I live on savings now, but if I would make the raiding costs on the fly, it would take 1.5 hours to get the weekly 5K. So I would spend 5.5 hours / week (50 mins/day average). With this time investment I have the "I choose you Steelbraker" achievement (top 2%). I merely maximize the utility of my time. I do what I'm best in (making money fast) and for it I go directly to the days when the firstkill tries will be.

The raiders of my guild raid all 4+4+6=14 hours/week and I assume without AH it takes another 3-4 hours of dailies to get the consumables/enchants (if the guildbank wouldn't provide it for free). So they are still below 3 hours/day, far from anything unhealthy. They simply couldn't get more gear by playing more, as Ulduar is already empty.


The two bad statements together make a deadly mixture as you can spend infinite time for a goal you have not set. If you just log in to do something, you can keep doing different things for long-long time without feeling of real accomplishment (as without goals it's impossible). Since the game is designed to give you rewards, you will feel several minor accomplishments, like "look I'm richer than yesterday", "what a cute pet I got", "I've finished Sholozar Basin!". Due to the second statement, you increase time spent in the hope that it will provide accomplishment, and it does! 2x more time, 2x more minor, meaningless, empty accomplishments.


The way out of the "game addiction" is simple. I mean not simple as "just don't smoke anymore", but really simple: set a winning goal like "be in the top 200 in 3v3" or "get the FL+4 hard mode achievement" and use the same (unhealthy) amount of time towards this goal, instead of just doing random stuff. Before starting any game activity, ask yourself: does this bring me closer to my goal?
  • does leveling my 5th alt gets me closer to Orbituary? No. Then I don't do it, I work on my main.
  • does getting "explore Ashenvale" achievement gets me closer to Orbituary? No, so I work on really making my main ready.
  • does doing another 5-mans gets me closer to Orbituary? No, as I'm already wasting badges on +XP gear for alts.
By excluding these time sinks, 50-70% of your game time saved without any loss of progress, just by setting a goal.

Now "sick statement #1" comes back and says "you need more gear for FL+4! Go farm gear!". Sick statement #1 is a strong belief, as it's supported by the peer pressure from equally unsuccessful players ("we are not geared for Ulduar yet"). Here comes the goblinish trick:
  • Fact no1: those who have the achievement you want surely knows how to do it
  • Fact no2: if they done it more than 2 times, they probably could boost you through it
  • Fact no3: therefore if you could get into their guild you could get your achievement
  • Fact no4: they decide who they invite, there is no universal invitation process
So, all you have to do is send them an apply and ask them to explain in a couple of lines why they rejected you if they did. Their answer set your course:
  • They are full on your class/spec: go to another guild, or switch mains
  • You don't have raiding experience: ask back what raiding achievements they need. Apply to a lower guild, that does only that (probably a Naxx25+siege guild)
  • You are ungeared: ask back what stats they need and go to wowhead, see where you could get the proper stats. Tip: in Naxx25 and siege
Now you have a short-time working goal. You can focus your time to this sub-goal. As soon as it's done, you can go back to applying to a guild having your goal achievement. What about gaming time? Soon it will be limited by other people and game mechanincs, I mean you can only get closer to achievements or gear when your guild raids (or your team does arena), and you can't kill more than one Yogg/week (who has loot). Being online other times simply cannot help you at all to get closer to your goals. So you won't feel it important (or fun) to be online such times.

This process gives maximum time efficiency: feeling of real accomplishments in short time. No more "addiction".


Note: the two sick ideas are not random but coming from common social beliefs. Actually it's quite "normal" to believe in them, in the same sense as it was normal in the medieval ages to believe that the Earth is flat and the middle of the universe. People use to compare each other according to wealth. The guy with the $10000 tennis racquet is considered a "winner" just not in tennis but as "rich person". The guy with the $100000 car is considered a "winner" just not in car racing. So the social person automatically assume that having "epixx" (or bike, or Mammoth) will make others consider him a "winner of life". In the game it is true that with enough time investment anyone can get these.

However it should be obvious even to a social that you can't "win life" in a video game. You can only win the game itself. While other socials respect your $10000 tennis racquet, they will only laugh on your pixel-wealth.


Note to retards: I do not say that anyone without competitive goal (just to hang out) is addict or plays it wrong. I say that anyone who plays it with the goal of "gear progression" is playing it wrong.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know this may seem like a weird thing to say but the best way to quit an MMO is to destroy your character i.e (delete gear, tell your guildies to go f*ck themselves, call your leader a f*ggot and /gquit).

You have to burn it all to the ground or else you'll be tempted to come back, relog, raid, pvp, alt lvl, chat, city mingling, etc.

Dmitry said...

I disagree with Mr. Anonymous.

An addict will start an alt as soon as the "hangover" becomes extreme, and will spend even more time in the game leveling the alt to the same "height" the main was at.

You don't just throw away your cigarettes when you quit smoking. You fight your habits, not the cigarettes. And the habits are inside your brain.

TL;DR: Gevlon is probably more right than you on this.

spinksville said...

"So they are still below 3 hours/day, far from anything unhealthy."

But how many days a week /must/ they play to avoid getting booted?

I think you're basically right, but it's very easy for people to have scheduling issues that make it much harder for them to find an appropriate guild.
eg.
- you have to put the baby to bed so can't raid before 7:30 (most raid guilds start before that).
- you go out with your friends on thursdays so can't raid then (most guilds raid thursday nights)
- you don't want to raid more than 2 days a week. even though hardcore guilds can clear the content in 2 days, they will want to recruit people who can do more.

I've always been surprised that Blizzard doesn't put in better guild-finding tools, since more server transfers would be more money for them anyway. ie. tools for people to put in what time they have available and what class they play, which could then throw up a list of guilds.

And none of this will help if people persist in having unreasonable expectations for the amount of time they have available.

Larísa said...

Lots of good points in this post, Gevlon. Making up your mind about what IS your one-and-only goal in the game isn't entirely easy though.

Take me for an instance. I love endgame raiding, so keeping my main mage in shape for doing this is always first priority. But on the other hand I DO enjoy leveling a druid for healing now. Yeah, its an alt, but I don't agree that it's necessarily waste of time. I learn about healing, I enjoy it immensly. I think it makes me a better player and if I never tried that role out I would feel as if I had missed 1/3 of the game.

Not that I think you're doing it wrong, restricting yourself, being so disciplined. On the contrary. Well done!

Ydraisa said...

@Gevlon:
Good topic...

I believe the addiction for online games is similar in a way to the gambling addiction. The addicted person doesn't have goals, the whole thing is far beyond logical reasoning.

The addict wishes to be "in" the game pretty much like the gambler often doesn't have goals (i.e., I need to win just enough money to buy myself a new car) but simply plays for the "thrill" to gamble.

@spinksville:
On the subject to a "guild finder"...

I think the problem is more on the human side of it rather than on the technical side. If Blizzard could come up with a very creative way of defining the guild recruitment process and prerequisites, then it could work. Even though the basics can be easily formalized (have over 1600 spell power, or be defense capped and over 30K health) the details are harder.

For example our guild is looking for a few select classes, but does not place emphasis on the gear. After the applicant fills out a standard form, the officers ask a few questions ranging from spell rotations to why the person has picked talent XXX or how would they handle a specific assignment in a specific fight. Further more, nobody wants to raid with a very skilled player that is a complete ass over Vent. This is quite difficult to formalize in a guild recruitment program.

Gear can be easily obtained nowadays, and raiders do Naxx & Ulduar 10/25 farm sessions to gear people for hard modes in a few days. However, skill, persistence, willingness to go the extra mile and attention for detail cannot be taught or brute forced in.

Hirvox said...

How about playing for envy?-)

Chris said...

Gevlon,

You've explained that 'gear progression' is illusory. I agree.

But I'm interested in your definition of 'winning':

Being in the top 2% on Wowprogress only really matters if you care what all the M&S think. Why would you want to impress them?

The reality is that a night of wiping to Steelbreaker HM (which I did last week) is largely equivalent to a night wiping to Thaddius in an M&S guild. You repeatedly fail, look for who is responsible, perhaps feeling frustrated.

Provided you log on the same amounts of time, you've been equally efficient, in your terms.

Maybe there's some status in there for HM guilds, but that, too is temporary.

Ydraisa said...

@Larísa:
I don't think Gevlon meant there should be only one goal, but merely there should be goals.

When you log in the game you have a mental checklist of things you want to do, and decide which one to focus on for whatever time you have available.

What you do is very different than the person that logs in the game with no goal in mind, other than simply be in the game. "Be inside" is their only goal, and they wander around, often lurking for hours an end in a major city with nothing to do other than watch /1 chat.

That is the category of people that Gevlon's post is about I think.

Ephemeron said...

Actually it's quite "normal" to believe in them, in the same sense as it was normal in the medieval ages to believe that the Earth is flat and the middle of the universe.

Oh, the irony.

Rybosh said...

Have to disagree with you on this point:


Have you seen any "character power" mentioned above? The belief in "gear progression" is a nonsense. Gear is a tool for winning. You would laugh on the tennis player who sais "I have a $10000 tennis racquet, a $5000 tennis shoe and a Vera Wang designed tennis skirt, so I am an awesome player".


Given that the best gear drops from bosses of increasing difficulty, a more correct comparision would be having beaten the Williams sisters, Federer, etc.

By the same token, you might have been carried by your doubles partner.

Carra said...

First you say that those addicts can never get to be "casual" players. Then you go on to tell them how they can be casual players, something is wrong in that reasoning.

And I disagree, you can change your addiction to casual play. No need to delete your characters either. If you're logging in each evening out of habit without any plans to do then that's one sign that something is wrong. Ask yourself why you're logging in and set a goal.

But most importantly, being addicted to WoW is a sign of deeper problems. It's escapism to its purist. So you have to ask yourself what you're escaping from and try to fix that. The rest will follow.

Laudrim said...

@Chris

"Being in the top 2% on Wowprogress only really matters if you care what all the M&S think."

Would disagree with you. Assuming at least the top 20% of the raiders listed on Wowprogress are M&S-free(though chances are they're not), you're ranking in top 10% of the actually "good players". That was/is his goal, and he achieved it. And achieving your own goals is all that matters, isn't it?

Happyending said...

@ Spinks

I'm not sure how it is in the UK, but on this side of the pond, you had better be willing to commit 4-5 days a week, and at least 4 hours a sitting to join a hardmode guild.

I really wish I knew where these mythical guilds were that only raided hardmode 2 or 3 times a week for under 3 hours a sitting.

Ydraisa said...

@Happyending:

Reroll EU and come join E&T :)

We (technically they since I don't have the raider rank) raid 3 days a week 4 hours a day. And working on Ulduar hard modes in both 10/25 if that's down your alley...

Vlad said...

"But how many days a week /must/ they play to avoid getting booted?"

in most cases 2 raids /week.

"(comparing thaddius wiping to steelbreaker) Provided you log on the same amounts of time, you've been equally efficient, in your terms."

not really, IF you wipe on thaddius that means _a lot_ of people screwed up big time, when you wipe on steelbreaker it's usually a "minor" mistake.

"but on this side of the pond, you had better be willing to commit 4-5 days a week, and at least 4 hours a sitting to join a hardmode guild."
well then, this is a hardmode guild of scrubs, who cant reapeat the strategy that worked before (they cleared the hardmode before- right?, so why the hell is it taking them 2h+ on each hard mode encounter ?
4-5 raids a week x 4h =16-20 hours, just to clear 9 hardmodes (and thats assuming theyr doing the _hard_ ones, like firefighter or 1 light ? something is wrong imo.

Chris said...

@Laudrim

"That was/is his goal, and he achieved it. And achieving your own goals is all that matters, isn't it?"

Do you subscribe to this viewpoint?

What if my goals are to collect lots of pets and PUG Archavon once a week?

If the setting and achieving of personal goals is 'playing it right' (theme of OP), then the M&S are doing it now.

@Vlad

Major mistake/minor mistake, who cares? Failing means not getting achievements/not 'playing the game right'.

The fact that someone somewhere said Steelbreaker is more difficult doesn't have a huge impact on a casual who will never see the encounter...

@Gevlon

Why are you playing during the HM attempts and not waiting until the encounter is on farm? Far more efficient achievements/time, I think you'll find.

Or maybe you find it 'fun' to challenge yourself... (oh no! it's that word again!)

SiderisAnon said...

The conscious point of any games is to win them. There are other points like improving skills (game or social) and to spend good time by gaining the state of flow ("having fun"). The sub-points cannot be achieved without trying to win

Gevlon:

While I enjoy reading your posts, you seem to be getting more cynical as they go on.

I believe that somewhere along the line, you failed to notice something: You are just as busy as your M&S telling people how since they don't play the way you do and so validate your existence, they are playing it bad/wrong.

Not everyone plays a game to win. The game is about being entertained, about fun. There are plenty of us who enjoy the "sub-points" without caring if we ever get to the "win". We play to play. We enjoy the trip, not the destination.

You are so wrapped up in the competition, which is where you find your fun, that you've forgotten that other people have fun in other ways. To use your tennis analogy, most people play because they enjoy the game, because it's good exercise, or because it's time spent with specific people. Only a small percentage play expecting to win tournaments. While that does make a vast majority of tennis players different from the tournament players, it doesn't mean they're having bad/wrong fun.

Nor does it mean that people who aren't 100% efficient with their time and focusing only on the raiding goals are having bad/wrong fun, as much as your ego would like people to believe it so.


And just so you can't claim that I'm just a whining M&S, I have a small AH business and make 2K or so a week, which more than finances my various characters.


You play the game to make money, which is part of your definition of "winning".
something about the game. You forgot it is a game that people play to have fun.

Eaten by a Grue said...

First, I do want to say that I am pretty impressed that you manage to bring a good topic every day, or at least most days.

I think I disagree here. To say someone is playing a game wrong, well, it's a game. If you are having fun, it's not necessarily wrong.

But how does this relate to addiction. Well, addiction is more than just having alot of fun doing something, or spending a ton of time doing something. I think most people would say that an addiction involves a negative impact by the activity on other aspects of one's life.

The tennis analogy is a poor one and rather serves to disprove the main point of the post. The pro tennis player may spend all day, every day on the court, and even if he or she never gets to a ranking of top 100 in the world or better, even if he or she never even sets out a goal aside from the vague one - just keep playing more tournaments - the tennis pro is not doing it wrong. The tennis pro is successfully earning a living at playing tennis and furthering other life objectives with the money earned. There are also health benefits, celebrity within society, real life networking accomplishments, and so forth.

With a gaming addiction, if WoW play time gets out of control, there is little to no corresponding benefit to other aspects of one's life, and in fact real life goes on pretty much complete hold. Yes, I know, you get some minor leadership skills in running a guild, and maybe improve a few social skills, but for the most part, you get nada out of the game. There is no practical application to elemental grinding. (And even gaming the AH - well that is nice, but let's face reality. The AH is an imperfect market. Many people do not care about in game gold. So trying to apply AH skills in the real world can lead to quite a shock - eBay profits are not so easy!)

Bottom line? Playing it wrong is playing too much, to the point where there is a negative impact. Playing so much that you do not even get enjoyment out of the game. I think the professor is basically right here.

Someone who logs in for 30 minutes a day to play the AH and gets satisfaction from that, even without set goals, is not playing it wrong. Someone who does 5-mans for social joy and only spends, say, 10 hours a week on the game, but sets no real goals for himself in game other than just to hang out, is not doing it wrong.

Being goal-oriented does not remove the addiction. There are so many goals that can be set and met. And even your example of FL+4 HM - someone can set that goal, spend 15 hours per day seeking it, then accomplishing it, and then immediately shooting for doing it with 9 alts.

I think the prof is right. MMOs, for many people, trigger the same "healthy" instincts that we have in life. Non-MMO players do real life hardcore - 16 hours per day, assuming 8 hours of sleep. Some of these activities include meeting goals, some don't. Not everyone is "doing it right" in real life, but hey, it's life.

An MMO addiction is like a little short circuit, creating a little life environment within the game, and it is easy to get caught in it.

But in the end, if you can consistently keep your real life goals at higher priority than WoW goals, you will be fine, no matter how "wrong" you play WoW. Just play real life "right", and everything else will fall into place. It's when WoW goals get ahead of real life goals is when problems start.

Anonymous said...

I think the "game addiction" theory has major holes. One of my friends that thinks I'm addicted spends more time playing and practicing for Hockey. The guy's theory would find this acceptable, but doing the same online is not.

On Penn and Teller BS this week they did video games. They used an example of reversal lets say that video games were the well accepted sport and football was new. Would the same arguments apply? Yep. There is no way to prove addiction for video games w/o proving that you can be addicted to football, hockey, or any leisure activity.

Ydraisa said...

Defining addiction outside of chemicals (i.e. not the drug addiction kind) can be hard from an academic perspective, but I believe it can be summarized in layman words pretty easily.

If what you do for leisure affects your behavior or ability to do the other activities then it may be a sign of a problem.

Let's take the case of the gambler. Assuming you manage to develop a system where you can consistently win the majority of the games, then it's no longer an addiction. It's a profession -- you can easily earn your living just from gambling.

However if you spend all your money to gamble, and sell your house to gamble even more, then you got a problem.

Same can be applied to WoW. If you could earn your living from playing WoW (think Ensidia and other professional PvP teams), then it's not addiction - it's a job. For the rest of us, how much time you play, or how you chose to spend your online time is nobody's business but yours.

Except when your behavior starts to change (see worldofmatticus.com and others for an in depth description on this), and when you start skipping school to play, and when you get fired from your job because you took way too many days off because expansion just hit, and when your own company goes bankrupt because you no longer care and instead of making business decisions you have WoW on your computer screen all the time.

That is what all is about, in my opinion.

Townes said...

You're right, of course. If my goal is just to progress in raiding and enjoy the company of my guild, my casual guild is fine with me showing up for a few hours a week. Or, my wife plays casually the way you define it.

I do see how the game is designed to draw you in for longer periods of time, though, and you are 100% right that if you don't have a goal, you will not be happy.

It is even worse now with endless achievements - exploration, mount collecting, titles for doing everything in the festivals. This is a good thing in offering goals that might be fun for some people. But it's a bad thing if you don't have some simple goals and want to do everything. There just isn't time to do everything and have a normal life.

I don't know if even 3 hours a day in WoW is healthy. It could mean less exercise, less reading, even less sex. Maybe another rule ought to be, "finish real-life goals before going to achieve cartoon game goals".

Yaggle said...

Yeah, although I play what I think is a lot of hours(20-30) per week, I could play half that and take a character to endgame. I don't really think of Wow as a game you can win, I think of it more as a simulation, such as Sim City or Civilization. And as Civ players know, there are many ways you can win. Conquering the world is only one way to win. I admit I am not very goal-oriented. I am happy as long as I keep doing better at things. So to me, I feel like I win when I learn to play different classes better and am financially successful. Many people who are more goal-oriented, or just have higher goals, do not consider that winning.
In my life, I have been disappointed by achieving goals. Often I find that once I meet those goals, whatever I have been doing does not feel fun any more. I averaged 211 in a bowling league one year. I lost interest after that. As Spock once said, "Sometimes wanting is better than having".

Wooly said...

My goals are clear, raiding: preferably killing Yogg anytime soon. The observer is a bonus. The other goal is (obviously) making more gold. I'm not targeting for the goldcap, but I hope to reach 100k anyway.

A little off current topic maybe, but the money making department is starting to take more time of me lately then the raiding one. There's a reason for it: competition on my server is going nuts. Only today I've had to log in 4 times and repost the majority of my items, because some new guy seems to have started a big undercutting war. He seems to be online most of the time, undercuts by big percentages, and posts massive amounts too. I undercut him again, some others do too, but we're at a point that even though I'm able to get most mats for much less then AH price, my profit is hardly worth all this effort anymore. So, I'm beating his price now and he seems to have stopped undercutting, but the sales I make aren't doing much for me now. Especially because it's a slow market I'm playing on.

I'm figuring waiting it out (will take quite some time) and cutting my losses meanwhile is the way to go. But I'm starting to get the feeling that in a high competition market, spending only 2hrs a week on AH just doesn't cut it, or am I wrong? I hope so.

Carl Lewis said...

Nice post

SiderisAnon said...

Wooly wrote: A little off current topic maybe, but the money making department is starting to take more time of me lately then the raiding one. There's a reason for it: competition on my server is going nuts. Only today I've had to log in 4 times and repost the majority of my items, because some new guy seems to have started a big undercutting war.

If you're having to dedicate that much time to the market, it may be time to get out of the market entirely. If you're facing off against someone who has enough time on their hands to log in every couple of hours to adjust their auctions, then you can quickly hit a point where it's just not worth it anymore.

Maybe you should spend some time looking at the other markets on your server? You may be emotionally invested in the market, but that's not a way to make money. Take a week or two to look around for other money making ventures. Then if your current market is still horrible, move on. (Or branch out into both.)

Nees said...

Thanks for that link Ephemeron, I didn't know that. :)

Bristal said...

To contradict your main point, I think those that just log in and monitor /1 and bug people in major cities are less likely to exhibit addictive gaming behavior. They are bored, and don't have the focus or interest to actually pursue any active goals. When they find a more interesting pursuit, they will likely leave.

Addiction is far from boring. In gaming it comes from that intensely focused feeling of having to "accomplish" some nebulous goal, and then another and then another and not being able to think of anything else. Thus it's the "goals", especially those involving repetitive or time sensitive actions that lead to uncontrolled behavior.

I think dailys and reputation grinds can be the worst part of WoW.

Gibbiex said...

Pretty solid post, I think. I wonder if we are all addicted, but still I take nights/weeks off once in a while, and I don't feel a compulsion 'must log in'. I think blizz shares a portion of the blame here for creating such a huge time sink. Gevlon cheerfully ignores the massive effort it took to get to 80 and get geared. Yes, once you are at that point, you could only spend 20 hrs or less raiding, but typically you get bored of doing just raiding and want to see other parts of the game, which requires a larger time sink.

Some things I really hate about blizz is:

1) required dailies (JC, argent tourney), short world events that take a huge amount of effort to get the achievemnt (i was 95% done with flame fest and it was over, so I just wasted 20 hours of my life doing it (not entirely, got half a level and 100s of gold).,

2) gear progression at end game - you need to spend X amount of hours farming Y so you can do instance Z with better loot, so you can do instance A with better loot.

3) Forced obsolescence; yes the instance will be there, but the drake achievements disappear, the effort will become trivialized (== not fun), etc. If you just want to see the instances, well you can, but its trivial. We did ZG last night for the first time; was a total joke. We had only a small idea how the bosses worked, we rounded up entire rooms, etc.

4) Long forced sessions. While leveling: Notice how some (maybe half?) of quest hubs don't have a inn nearby? That's so you can spend yet more time running back and forth to the inn. Thanks blizz!

Notice how you have to clear an hour of trash to get to the boss, and the trash respawns? That's to spend more time/effort to get the phat loot. (I think this adds to skill == fun, but it can get ridiculous; i really love instances with minimal amounts of trash).

And 14 bosses in an instance (= 4 hours typically) - Thanks blizz!

Yeah, you don't have to log in, but the time sink and the idea of wasted time wouldn't be nearly as bad if they took some effort to minimize the amount of time it took to do stuff. WoW is better than most MMOs though, at least you don't have to spend two weeks releveling if you spend a night wiping.

baltanok said...

Hang on a sec, guys. A lot of you are condemning Gevlon, and I don't think you understand his point about setting goals.

If someone has set the goal of "get every single vanity pet in the game," and then set the short term goal of "get one additional vanity pet this week," they are playing it right.

doesn't matter that you might dislike the goal, or even find it trivially easy. All that matters is that they are effectively using their time towards that goal, and not beating themselves up over "not spending more time in the game."

Most people would find my goal immediately upon getting the expansion silly: get the explorer title - on foot. But it fit with my character's nature, so I got explorer 2 weeks before northern flying.

Thanks, gevlon.

luv2bdryvin said...

I couldn't agree with your more Gevlon.

I used to be addicted to WoW. Killed two semesters of school for me.

However, I started reading your blog.

I set up my own inscription business on my server, according to your model. I only log once per day, and its a slow server, but the 2500g per week it generates is more than enough.

I gave up on everything except collecting vanity pets.

I raid when I want to. I actually started paying for Uld 25 runs... and have been quite successful. Only 1000g per night... but the GM of the guild I go with like it.

Thanks for free me! I no longer feel bad when some scrub as "CaN u run me thru SM plzzzzzz????"

Buboe said...

The conscious point of any games is to win them.

Sorry Gevlon, but this is where you lose me. I've been playing wow since a week b4 TBC. (with a couple of breaks to deal with new babies)
I have one level 80, and I stepped into Naxx for the first time last week. By any of your measures, I'm a failure at this game.
However, I still get as much enjoyment from it, as I did the first time I rode the elevator from Mulgore Plains to Thunder Bluff. I set myself goals sure; lvl engineering so I can make the helm; get my Shaman's BS up; make $5k so I can updgrade sledges' ghetto mount. But these aren't the reason I play.
Running a good WC pug, or doing Scholo in a Tux (thanks Tamarind) are just as legitimate goals as killing Steelbreaker.
The difference is, there is no Wowprogress for this type of fun. (Well there's Tam, but he's sorta special...)

ACHIEVEMENT (Watch the sun go down from the Bridge in Howling Ffjord) (top 2%)
http://inmysissyrobe.wordpress.com

Pazi said...

What? Gear doesn't matter? Because last time I checked it makes 9/10 of our stats and beyond 80 it is the ONLY way to improve those stats.

Anonymous said...

Terrific post!

I'm pretty sure it's the addicts who are reading this blog and all of the comments. That's true addiction!

The point of goals is well taken and I appreciate the direction. One can easily get scattered.

Finally, there IS a little bit of the Amusement Factor. Some things in this game are kinda fun to do.

Beej said...

Very well done, Gevlon. I can't really argue with any of your points.

The best I have is anecdotal evidence to show that my personality won't allow for any kind of goal in game to not override my real life.

I tried the setting smaller goals. My first was: PvP in WG when I'm at home and it's up and do PvP dailies. That way, I could get my WoW time in, enjoy myself, and actually have a minimal reward to show for my time. Unfortunately, my personality didn't allow me to stop there, and I ended up becoming obsessed again with making sure I was at home for every WG timer as well as making sure that I hit a certain amount of honor each day. While that doesn't sound like a lot, it did the same thing that my original raiding addiction/obsession did in that it limited my real life because of a game. And that's where I draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable.

There are a lot of people who can work with incremental goals like those you outlined here, and to those people I say "great!" But for people like me who get sucked in due to hyperfocusing or addictive personalities or whatever, we have to be a lot more careful.

And like I said in my original post on WoM, this isn't some tried and true, research-based study. This is what I went through, how I felt, and what worked and what didn't for me. I don't make the claim (though I suppose it does come across as rather authoritative at times) that it's the be-all, end-all of what is "healthy" or "unhealthy" MMO playstyle. I see where you're coming from with this, and it's a very valid point, but personally, that kind of goal-setting could not work for me because I always had to take it one step further.

Anonymous said...

All you people are nuts!!Why are you debating RPG's? Are there not bigger issues to contend with in the world?Have fun!!

J.Ayers said...

"Actually "I do what's fun" is equal to "it's right because I think so", just sounds better."

No it's not. When using a statement such as "it's right because I think so," it can be in the process of directly imposing rules/beliefs on another.

"I do what's fun," is used imposing an action upon yourself. Of which, the effects that are indirect on another (short of beating someone with a stick for "fun," or the like).

They are similar, but one (mostly) imposes directly on others, the other (mostly) imposes on yourself.

J.Ayers said...

"All you people are nuts!!Why are you debating RPG's? Are there not bigger issues to contend with in the world?Have fun!"

This is fun for us... Duh... :P

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