Binge Gaming

I was reading an article over at Bio Break about juggling your MMO game time, and I didn’t think any of the options fit how I juggled my games. Although I almost always intend to set aside certain days for certain games, it almost never happens that way. I get sucked in, and the binge begins.

Binging is probably the least liked option as it really doesn’t allow a true sense of juggling. Instead of playing multiple titles throughout the week or month, I tend to congregate my gaming activities on one particular game, 2 at the most. At some point, a game will lose its allure, and I will happily relegate it back to the shelves as a new (or old) game catches my fancy, and the process is repeated. Of course, like the rest of Syp’s choices, there are pros and cons to being a binge gamer.

Pros

Completing a Task

As much as task-oriented goals are derided for their lack of creativity and imagination, I love completing things: quests, achievements, you name it. When you’re chopping your entire game-time for the day into segmented blocks for game a, b, and c, it’s easy to lose that cohesive: I FINISHED! It’s easy to find yourself spending your game night in a particular world just moving from location A to location B without any “actual” gameplay being accomplished.

Keybinds

I tend to keybind everything. I love having my mouse loaded with all kinds of nifty abilities and spells. On the other hand, when I’m swapping games often, I find myself confusedly trying to spam fireball when I’m playing my ranger and find myself trying to use animal fear on a troll. Not good. By immersing myself semi-exclusively to a MMO of choice, I find it easier to get readily comfortable with everything on my bars.

Cons

Continuity

The main problem with binging is that it’s hard to keep the thread alive between gaming obsessions. By the time I return to a game, there has likely been a patch, a buff or nerf, or a completely different set of currency. This can be horribly disconcerting, and even a bit off-putting if you’re not prepared to spend a bit of time re-integrating yourself.

Group Play

My binging, I think is in part, my aversion to and absolute love of group play. I really don’t like leveling with another person, finding that often our goals are so disparate that it sucks the fun right out of the game. On the other hand, I absolutely love end-game, and will gleefully give up many a free night to down internet dragons.

I find myself dedicating myself almost exclusively to one MMO when I’m raiding. However, it’s pretty easy to burnout when you spend all of your time grouped. Almost every game I’ve left permanently was a result of “forced” group play.

If I’m not at end-game, I tend to ignore all attempts at communication or group play. I think my lack of ability to get immersed in end-game in multiple games contributes to my lack of commitment once the exploration/leveling portion of the MMO is done.

Binging isn’t for everyone, but I find that it helps me keep perspective on what I want out of my gaming experience as well as providing me with a sense of refreshment. While a new game has it’s own perks, coming back to an old friend and finding yourself captivated in a similar way by the things that you loved make the break worth all the more.

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2 thoughts on “Binge Gaming

  1. I am sort of the same way. I have a lot of games, both MMORPG and single player ones, that I keep promising to spend more time on them, to keep a rotation of some sort. Yet, I seem to have a goal oriented mind in that I can’t stop playing a certain game until I complete a certain self-imposed goal.

    Until I complete that goal I just keep wanting to play that game. Even to think about playing other games can be hard. That can also easily lead to burn out too, unfortunately, as I am a butterfly gamer.

    I guess it also explain why I have trouble getting into certain games. If I can’t think of a goal to reach besides “leveling for the sake of leveling” then I lose interest very easily. Or if I know what I want to achieve but just can’t see a clear path to reach that.

    Same thing about forced grouping. I love to run dungeons with my group of friends. To the point of even looking to the weekends when I know most of them will be online. However outside of dungeon runs I prefer to solo. If I have to group up I just feel like I lose my freedom of doing what fits my mood. Like going to play with another character or just go over the hill to see what is on the other side. It just feels like I need to stick to a questing railroad or similar so both of us will get the most benefit from it.

  2. I can definitely relate to this. I like to give whatever game I’m playing at the time as much of my attention as possible. I feel I don’t have quite as much fun when I begin to consider all the other games I have yet to finish. I almost feel guilty!

    Since acquiring all this extra free time over the last few months I’ve really only played three games. I picked Aion back up for about a month and tried to get really into it again. Needless to say, that failed. The game is absolutely beautiful and I enjoy the flare of all the skills and whatnot, but overall it still feels so slow (both leveling and general progress at max level).

    Next was Diablo 3. I spent a good bit of time in this one, leveling a couple character up to or near 60 and also attempting to make some progress in inferno. While I actually really enjoyed my time playing, it was actually Lullu that kinda pulled me away from it. At some point she asked me, “What exactly is the point of farming for all this gear?” and I didn’t have an answer. Why I have a problem with it now and didn’t in Diablo 2, I have no idea.

    The other game is Tera. Lullu and I picked it up about 3 weeks ago and I have to say I’m pretty impressed. Tera is Korean, just like Aion, but it seems En Masse made many improvement that NCSoft overlooked when attempting to westernize their game. The grind isn’t quite as grindy, for instance, especially considering that I LOVE questing. Even the RNG that Korean MMOs seem to love has been toned down a bit, though I will admit the enchanting system can still be disappointing. That being said, the combat is extremely fun and the classes feel very different from what I’m accustomed to. I expect I’ll be playing Tera for awhile.

    A good portion of what dictates what game I play is whether or not Lullu can/will play it. Since we almost exclusively play games together, it can actually create some difficulties when trying to switch around. MMOs obviously are an easy choice, but I have a pretty good selection of Steam and Xbox games that I haven’t finished that I just can’t see putting time into when we both feel that we have so much stuff left to do on whichever MMO we might be playing at the time. Sure there are times when our schedules aren’t lining up for whatever reason, but I find myself more interested in spending time researching for the game we’re playing than picking up some game I haven’t played for a few months in the hopes of making whatever minute progress I might squeeze in before ultimately deciding I’m just not really interested in playing that particular game at that time.

    Slight off-topic rant ahead:

    I think that you pretty accurately listed the pros and cons for this type of gaming style, but I think perhaps the most interesting of the set is grouping. I find it really interesting to think back on how much my gaming personality has changed over the past few years. I used to be someone who always leveled alone, ran instances often, and would log in to sit in a major city to chat. Now I almost always level with someone, only run instances while leveling to get quests done, and only log on in order to make progress toward whatever endgame goal I’m working on at the time.

    What I find the most interesting about the switch is that I still really enjoy instances and the mechanics involved. Working together to achieve anything sounds more enjoyable than trying to do something alone. I find myself always considering how efficient it might be to group up, however, and this often leads to me deciding to pass. When it comes down to it, grouping up with people rarely turns into a very efficient use of my time when not yet at max level. The only possible exception I could see for this is if the group was a static, organized, coordinated group of friends who all had the same goal and the same basic skill level. While I’m sure that’s not impossible, I think it is far from common.

    The only real drawback I see to this shift in my play style is that I’m much less likely to run into people and make friends. This is actually probably a huge loss, honestly, because the entire point of playing an MMO is to play with other people. While it won’t keep me from leveling or running instances when I want to (yay dungeon finder), it really strays from what I once thought was the normal, acceptable way to find a guild…. or at least a group of people that I’ll want to play with for the many months ahead. It’s been very different having to spend extra time looking at guild websites and trying to find out if they really live up to all the claims they make.

    I know that this is now a pretty common method for finding guilds, especially amongst the raiders of wow, but it feels more complicated to me. Sure you might be taking a risk when changing servers to raid with new group, but there are so many other things to do in WoW and leveling new characters is easier than ever. This is not something that you can say about most other games. Many of the newer games end up specializing in one area until they get a few patches out. While I’m generally a patient person, waiting 6+ months before finally taking a shot at a guild just seems crazy to me. I know as well as any good raider that the road to success is much quicker (and smoother!) with a solid guild.

    Without any reliable way to measure a guild before you join, often the only choice is to give it a shot. I like to believe that I’ve got a chance at finding that perfect guild, filled with nice, competent players who are dedicated but relaxed, but the truth is that I’ve mostly found guilds that are the opposite. I’ve joined guilds that have been too serious for their own member base, much to my amusement. I’ve also joined guilds that turn out to be an alt-er’s paradise, sometimes have a large portion of the guild with no max level characters yet 3-4 mid level alts. While I believe everyone should play the way they want, I find it almost cruel to lie to someone who clearly states what they’re looking for up front.

    Admittedly, I can probably partly blame ProCo for some of my problems. While it was never the perfect guild, it always seemed to have the companionship, reliability, and efficiency that really spoke to me as a player. I think it was the first group I found that really felt like everyone shared the same goal. Trying to find that in other guilds, and especially other games, is much more difficult than I had considered. Whatever events occurred that push ProCo in the direction that lead it here seems to be about as common as the Big Bang (ignore that remark if you’re a devout Christian).

    I’m sure there has to be another group out there like what I’ve known for the past few years but I honestly have no idea where I’d even begin to look. All attempts thus far have met with complete, and sometimes very disastrous, failure. Finding even a handful of people that really understand, and I mean REALLY understand, what the ultimate goal of the guild is has proven a monumental task that has left me a bit jaded (completely did that on purpose).

    So what’s the point?

    Hell if I know. All I can say is that I’ve noticed changes in the MMO scene over the past couple years that have left me worried. Some of these changes are things that have to do with me and my play style, but many have to do with the whole population, in general. I’ve come to expect more and more from the people I know and play with because it’s what I’ve been dealing with for the past couple years. A large portion of the people I see leveling alongside me seem to want more and more handed to them (an entirely different rant on its own). While I definitely don’t see leaving MMOs behind, I often find myself longing for the days when I was a little more naive, a little more laid back, and a little more accepting.

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