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Reader Comments (67)

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 4:19PM Alamar01 said

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The lack of a social environment and the lack of a need for other players' service is what usually drives me away from non-sandbox, grindfest mmos.

The most fun I've ever had playing any game (mmo or not) was the first 2 years of Star Wars Galaxies. Sure there were bugs and glitches. Sure there were insanely hardcore players. Sure there was grinding required (especially if you wanted to unlock jedi). But, there were also ample opportunities for being social with fellow players built in to the game.

The 5-10 min shuttle wait usually placed you alongside at least a few fellow players and gave you a chance to casually chat with new people. Healing your mind damage/wounds by listening to or watching players who leveled up as musicians and dancers in the cantina gave you opportunities to make new friends.

Player housing and player-based cities fostered cross-guild relationships, rivalries and intense pvp skirmishes.

Even the ability to understand what your enemies (the other side) type really strengthened social ties within SWG servers. This last point could make things get a little ugly during and after pvp. However, after trashtalking and fighting died down, it was common for "enemies" to discuss things, roleplay, or even hang out.

Here's hoping that a studio will take a risk and incorporate some of these aspects into future mmos. Who knows, maybe people will eventually tire of grinding and check out some of the more sandboxy, social mmos out there.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 4:20PM (Unverified) said

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Tip to the hat, Beau. Brilliant characterization of the classic MMO player. I would disagree with your observation that the average is moving towards longer play sessions though. The total number of MMO players is increasing massively, so the absolute numbers of obsessive players is increasing as well. The group of short-term, or "casual" players is increasing much faster though, so I'd expect the average is actually moving towards shorter play sessions.

On topic of F2P, don't underestimate the influence of economics on the design of those games. Grind content is cheap content.

While there are a few examples now of how F2P can be very profitable, that kind of money often isn't available during development.
And why spend the profit afterwards on costly content when there's a substantially large player base that has been trained over years to be contempt with grind as a replacement for actual play?

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 4:22PM (Unverified) said

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I've been mulling over a response to your comments regarding the Paragon raider and his blog post, but I feel I am having difficulty formulating a rational response. I'll do the best I can though.

Is what he did healthy? No. Logical? No. Important to him? Yes, yes it was. I think to take the perspective that he's just some crazy cult member worshiping at the alter of WoW is a bit extreme.

This guy put his mind to something, made the changes in his schedule he deemed necessary, and got it done. He was showing up for work, putting in his time with RL responsibilities, and yet still managed to do what he loved to do in his off-time (and do it better than millions of other people). Granted, its no world altering feat he accomplished, but still, you have to give him some respect for setting a goal and doing what was required to achieve it.

Now, could I (or would I) be able and willing to maintain a schedule like that? Oh hell no. But I'm not bitter about it. I respect the guy for doing what it takes to accomplish his personal goals.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 5:14PM Ohhlaawd said

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@(Unverified)

From the end of the blog post: "A lot of people would wonder "Why does anyone do something like this?", for which I have no better answer than vanity, wanting to be one of the best. That's the desire that dominates most aspects of my life, both in gaming and at work."

Uhh, really? He shows up for work at 10 a.m., after only 4 hours of sleep, and then leaves at 4:50 and this somehow harmonizes with his desire to be the one of the "best" at work?

That's making changes he deems necessary to his schedule? Looks more like compromising his career and then rationalizing it after the fact.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 5:25PM (Unverified) said

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@Ohhlaawd

I don't see how this argument has any merit. Guy shows up for 7 hours of work a day, makes it home, and still manages to perform at the top of his game. What makes you assume that his performance at work isn't just as good, if not better? His description of his job is vague at best ("consultant"). You don't know what kind of performance and time spent is required to be one of the best in his field. All we have to go by is his performance in a game, which, if it is any indication, shows that he does quite well at what he puts his mind to.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 6:22PM Ohhlaawd said

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@(Unverified)

You seem to be assuming that a guy working less than 7 hours a day, sleeping 4, and spending 10 hours on WoW is some sort of consulting rainmaker. And your assumption is based on the fact that he's willing to spend an inordinant amount of time playing a video game.

You're betting on a long shot; he'd have to be the second coming to pull it off. The situation I described is much more likely. Without any evidence other than the schedule, what do you think the average person is more likely to assume?
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 6:31PM (Unverified) said

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@Ohhlaawd

"...is some sort of consulting rainmaker." OK, that made me lol. :)

I do see where you are coming from, I really do, but I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

Maybe he's great at his job, maybe he gets really ragged and lets things slip during new content, I don't know. I'd like to think he can manage to keep his can manage both. I guess my issue was what I interpreted as a condescending tone towards him. I don't think that's really called for.

When you set a goal, make sacrifices, and achieve it, it makes you feel good. Whether its finishing that 10k marathon, being elected to office, or getting a fancy pixel title, its a feeling of accomplishment and I'm glad the guy was able to get.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 6:51PM Gemi said

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@(Unverified) Actually I happen to be a very good friend of Kruf and I do want to point out a thing or two, even though you probably don't care or believe me.

The schedule on the site is pretty extreme indeed and is correct. The first weeks after the launch of new content are very hectic if you want to be the best and first to down the bosses. No one is claiming that it's something that one could hold up for an extended period of time and as you might notice from the style of his post, also him and all the other Paragon members know that they can't live like that for a long time.

It's worth noting that for the two first weeks after Cataclysm launch the whole guild took vacation from work so that their two parts of life wouldn't interfere with each other at all. This time the bosses lasted far longer than those two weeks so eventually they had to continue with their work lives, but now that the bosses are over their life is back to normal. You should also note that after the extreme time spent playing in the beginning of a new content release the guild actually seems to spend on average a lot less time playing than your average raiding guild. Before Cata launch I remember Kruf playing once or twice a week for only a couple of hours. Far less than the average spent by subscribers of the game. They are by no means selling their lives completely to WoW for the whole of their lives.

What comes to his success and dedication in his work life, he is very professional at what he does. I also know other people from the company he works in and I can guarantee he does his job well. I've worked with him on several off-work projects and his knowledge and professionalism in those further showcases this.

He also has a life outside of work and WoW, which I am a living proof of. I often eat lunch and have sauna evenings with him, play random co-op games together, take part in sports activities together, and so on. I'm sure the same goes for most, if not all, members of their guild.

This of course doesn't mean that there aren't anti-sosial, anti-healthy players out there. My point is that the most successful guilds and individuals often aren't from the worst end of the spectrum.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 4:31PM Dril said

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No.

As I said on We Fly Spitfires, I don't believe it's anything to worry about, but I really cba to slightly rephrase my arguments from there and post them here.

However, one thing I want to pick up on is "destructive behaviour." You said it yourself: there's always give-and-take. You don't become good at anything by not doing it. The relatively minor (and as it stands totally hypothetical) damage he's doing to himself is sacrificed to be good at something.

And you know, here's the thing. I totally get where he's coming from. I'd love to be world-class at something, I'd love to say: "yes, I'm crap at Y/ my Y is in really bad shape, but you won't find very many, if any, people better than me at Z."

If we tell the dedicated to stop being good at something because they might damage themselves then nothing happens. It's the dedicated who push design and the species as a whole, no matter what they do, not the middling average who consistently perform averagely doing average things.

Support the raiders (and hadcore PvPers) who are telling your game devs to get of their arses and develop content quicker, not shout them down for not adhering to your perfect vision of a human's daily routine. We'd benefit as a species if we could sleep less and hence get more things done, but, hey, if you want to waste time sleeping then go for it.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 5:38PM Beau Hindman said

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@Dril "ou don't become good at anything by not doing it." -- of course. But we are not talking about "doing" something...we are talking about sacrificing health and sleep to do this thing. Do we think that a world-class athlete is living off of microwave pizzas and 4 hours of sleep? Not everyone sacrifices their health in order to be good at something.

As fas as sleep: the problem is that I am not the only one wasting time with sleep. Every human on the face of the Earth must waste time with sleep -- or we die. "Wasting time" with sleep is like saying "wasting time breathing" or "drinking water."

The scariest thing is that the raider I am referring to (as well as the general "raider" or "hardcore grinder I am speaking to in general terms) is already sacrificing his dietary needs in order to play games.

What if he had said "I go without food in order to play." People would simply boggle at the thought. Well, the only reason he is able to barely get away with this diet of microwave meals is because the effects of poor diet can be avoided (or not felt as much) or put off a lot longer than lack of sleep. If you do not sleep, your body will put you down quicker than if you went without food (a couple of weeks.)

Beau
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 6:22PM DancingCow said

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@Beau Hindman

FYI...

There are techniques that can be used to reduce the amount of sleep you need down to about 3 hours a night.

And there have been some well documented cases of people who only need 1 hour of sleep a night. There was one such woman who seriously didn't believe everyone else needed 8 hours a night and just thought they were all incredibly lazy.
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Posted: Feb 11th 2011 4:09AM Valdamar said

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@DancingCow
Yeah I got by on 4 hours sleep per night for most of my late teens and 20s and I never felt any ill-effects. I've even asked my Doctor and he says it's perfectly normal that different people need different amounts of sleep, but you need less when you're younger and more when you're older.

Now, when I usually get 6-7 hours sleep per night, I can still carry through the old 4 hour regime in short bursts with no ill effects (like I have during Rift: Planes of Telara beta in 3 day bursts). And yet I've got friends who just cannot function with less than 8 hours sleep. I guess it's just in our genetics or thought patterns that we have different requirements - and yet all these studies seem to generalise on what everyone needs and what everyone should be doing when people are very different in their needs and patterns.

Maybe Beau should post his daily schedule - how do you manage to play so many MMOs while still calling yourself a casual player? It must be difficult when you have to play MMOs for your job. Seeing your schedule might help a few other players here to judge where they fit on the casual/hardcore scale (if that really matters).
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 4:54PM Rimeshade said

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All very interesting I'm sure but there's an awful lot of "I see" and "from my point of view" and very few hard facts and sources. If you can link a few pieces of research or studies with a large sample size done in a scientific and controlled manner then that would be good.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 5:30PM Beau Hindman said

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@Rimeshade I am not sure which part I did not back up with factual information. Some of that information is so obvious that I simply did not need to list it.

1) It is unhealthy to play games for 10 hours a day while avoiding exercise (does he mention it somewhere? I might have missed it) sunlight (we simply must have exposure to sunlight to help create Vitamin D (in fact, there is an "epidemic" of Vitamin D shortages: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/11/2739S.full) a healthy diet and proper amounts of sleep. These should all be easily verifiable with a simple Google search.

2) More gamers are playing more: I linked to that video of Jane McGonigal because, in the interview, she talks about that very point. She reminds Stephen that gamers are not only more common now, but that they are becoming more common. More gamers who did not game before means more hours. In her new book, she talks at length about how many more hours people are playing now. (I am in the middle of reading it.) She is easily considered an expert, and that is why I linked to her interview (it was easier than transcribing it word for word.)

3) Cult-like or religious behavior on behalf of raiders/hard-core grinders: If you define a cult or a religion, you will see the all three lining up perfectly.

If I am missing something or if there seems to be a hole somewhere, I'd be interested in hearing about it. While I might ramble, I try to fill in any gaps in my argument.

Beau
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 5:33PM (Unverified) said

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@Rimeshade that's what an opinion piece is about (which this is).
What exactly do you want backed up with facts? Maybe we can find some for you.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 5:57PM Rimeshade said

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@Beau Hindman

I'm not asking for those facts, I'[m asking for journal articles, papers on point 2, one source isn't enough, and evidence that this single gamers behaviour is a good enough indicator to make predictive statements.

That this sort of behaviour is increasing/that the "average" time spent is increasing with research from various different sources.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 6:04PM Beau Hindman said

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@Rimeshade Like I pointed out, Jane McGonigal is considered an expert. She is not basing her information on one source or just off of a guess. She has done the research, so look to her for all of that information. By using her, I simply cut out the legwork.

Beau
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:49PM xBludx said

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@Rimeshade

Here's an interesting article on sleep deprivation with some good links (but some links, like the military one, don't work).
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 6:18PM Locus said

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You could always be pragmatic and counter videogame obsession with an incredibly short attention span.

As much as you'd like to wax hyperbole about this so-called issue, you need to consider the alternatives.

You also like to assume that sunshine and lots of exercise is the "natural" state for humanity and preferable to being less "healthy" but not feeling completely wretched for an hour a day, followed by feeling sore for a week or so. Getting exposed to the sun and wholesome Mother Nature would increase your chances of contracting skin cancer, diseases through insect bites, becoming roadkill, stabbed by a thug or abruptly suspended mortality at the hands of the nearest rabid bear.

It also makes you somewhat of a social pariah as you start trying to make other people feel inadequate and preach your holistic lifestyle from a position of moral superiority; but then again I'd expect that of an op-ed specifically designed to attention-monger.

Let's put it this way: We're all going to die anyway. At least have the courtesy to let people perish the way they want.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:14PM Birk said

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@Locus

That's the most depressing, defeatist thing I've read in a long time. Go create some value in someone's life, rather than pretending to be offended because someone told you that sitting around in front of a monitor living off of microwave pizzas and beer is a shitty idea for your integrity.

-Birk
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