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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 5:37AM Locus said

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@Birk

I'm an optimistic realist. Every day might be one day towards death, but that's not a big problem if you don't think of death as an end to everything. The world (which is a charming place, by the way) *is* bigger than any of us and turning your personal death into a big deal is frankly kind of selfish and vainglorious. I think it's far healthier just to pass away with the thoughts "Ahahaha, that was interesting. Good luck to the rest of you guys!". Amusingly, I take the same approach to leaving MMORPGs for good.

I just believe that it's perfectly within someone's right to decide what's important in their lives and what they want to do with it. The last thing people need is a bunch of hypocrites moralizing about "should" and "ought to" (provided they're upholding their responsibilities to other people) .
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 6:36PM Bladerunner83 said

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Nice post, it's totally real and most people reading it can relate to it in some way. I don't believe the trouble is just within F2P and it is definitely in sub based too. I think it is just gaming addiction in general, remember that Korean that died from playing Starcraft to long. Additionally when I was younger, I would play that Playstation consol system for hours and hours, neglecting my health and lacking social contact. Today's MMOs reinforce that social contact to an already addictive game.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 6:58PM Chef Kiyo said

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I can't begin to thank you for this article. Seriously, I feel better reading about how MMO addiction can be worsened by the grinding Free to Play MMOs. I myself enjoy many Nexon titles, as well as games like Guild Wars. I can play all of them while still paying for WoW. What makes all of this worse, though, is the many times I've spent playing these games from 2PM - 5AM just because I want to feel progression.

I've been wanting to slim down on my MMO gaming and switch to the full genre I used to have many years ago on consoles though. Reading this has made me feel as if I can understand what actions can be taken to prevent unhealthy gaming habits.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 7:36PM Gaugamela said

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Who the hell is this guy to judge how a person spends his spare time???

If that other guy shows up for work, is responsible and still manages to play 10 hours then good for him. There are people that don't need to sleep the usual 7/8hours.

Heck, in my country one the most brilliant political analysts (and one of the smartest minds in the country) only sleeeps 4 to 5 hours a night, swims (or at least swam) a mile every day on the sea and nobody judges him.

But there's other aspect to this article that is very unsettlling: and that's how developers for MMOs try to addict people to their games following strategies similar to casinos.

Google MMOs and skinner and you will understand some very ugly truths about these games.
http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html
http://www.nickyee.com/eqt/skinner.html

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 10:57PM Birk said

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@Tempes Magus

Spot on.

-Birk
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 2:35AM Gemi said

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@Tempes Magus I would be more concerned for those who actually neglect themselves 100% of the time instead of those who do it with careful thought and for shorter periods of time. The 100% no-life gamers are the ones who after years are in such a bad situation that someone else needs to start taking care of their lives as they are unable to do it alone. Games and MMOs especially do encourage this kind of behavior, which I agree is bad, but we need to concentrate our worries on the correct people.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 7:57PM Ryn said

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I love this site. This article is proof positive of why I read it everyday.

Thanks for this article Beau. Like I said in a previous post, you fit into Massively perfect. I read all the articles on this site, and have found all the writers here very entertaining. Mr. Schuster has put together a great staff, and you are a great addition to it.

I was introduced to MMO'S by my former boss. He and a few of the guys from work played WOW (I know I'm gonna get beat up for this) and I joined them a few months after they started. Being my first MMO, I found myself near addicted and obsessed with the game. It didn't help that my boss was more addicted than I was.

I really had to evaluate what I was doing and what I was sacrificing to do it. It took me a bit of time to realize what was going on (For some reason I can darn near lose my shirt before I learn a lesson sometimes) but I did and I had changes to make. Real life is more important than any accomplishment in a game.

I have come to realize that in any game I play, One thing will always ring true with me:

You will always run into someone with better gear than you cause they can raid all the time, or they can earn their gear through PVP, and they have more time to do it than I do. You will always run into someone with that cool mount you will never get.

This allowed me to "Let myself of the hook" in my own mind. Why was I playing in the first place? I wasn't having fun, it had become a job. After all of this, I was able to start having fun again and try other games to, which I have tried a lot of them, just not near as many as Beau lol.

Grinds are built into games for a reason, with the hardcore player in mind. Everyone just needs to take stock of why they themselves are playing. If it's not to have fun, then you need to leave.

The commenters on this article have really brought up some great points.

Our "Down Time" is a precious commodity. All of these game developers are fighting for it. Give them only what you can afford.


Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:58PM Slayblaze said

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Beau writes:
"It's a dangerous culture, period. I truly believe that this single-minded pursuit of a goal (hit max-level, get that piece of loot) can potentially suck creativity and harm the body. The scariest part is that, from my point of view, it is becoming more "normal" all the time."

Dangerous, single-minded, harm, scary, suck creativity, on and on...

I dunno man, I have to say I disagree with the entire premise of this editorial, with all due respect to the many responses so far which have been favorable towards it. Gaming in general and MMO gaming in particular are activities, pass-times, hobbies, endeavors like any other. It's not "scary" or "harmful" even in large doses any more than anything else is in large doses, and probably a lot less harmful than many other activities I see people engaging in all the time for prolonged periods. Say you don't enjoy grinding in MMO's if you want to, but when you say or imply it's BAD for you then I must strongly disagree. That's an opinion, and my opinion and many many others is that we enjoy and find MMOs -even F2P "grindy" ones- to be extremely rewarding and a very worthy activity to enage in for prolonged periods of time with ZERO ill effects whatsoever. That's why we DO it, we are the fans of it, and that's also why we're all HERE right now at Massively.

It seemed like the message if you read between the lines is that we should all be embarassed or ashamed or even worried and upset about what we do for entertainment when we play MMOs a lot and the harm it does to us.

"Harm the body" c'mon MAN...!?! It's not like we're out playing full contact tackle football. People DO that you know.

Very odd to see something like this on a site which is specifically about MMOs and whose express intent is to engage and promote MMO gaming. MMOs by their very nature require large, sometime vast amounts of time, if your body and mind can't handle it then by all means STOP! All this preaching about obsession and how disturbing my behavior is (because yes, this is exactly how I personally behave) is frankly astonishing to see printed here. Again, I realize it is simply an opinion which we all have every right to express, nothing wrong with that at all, but it is people that express this particular opinion that for some reason or another gaming is bad and harmful, or even that it "could possibly, maybe, somehow, might be" sacrificing their health or sanity to engage in whether it be Pay to play, Free to play, MMOs, FPS, RTS, Shooters, non-Shooters, violent, non-violent, - whatever... people like that just tick me off because I can think of a hundred things that people all over the world are engaging in at this very moment that are far FAR worse than the most die-hard-20-hour-a-day gamer is doing to him/herself.

To now see that Beau is one of those people - who myself also being in my 30's I would consider one of my peers - is just disheartening. Not only that but truly uninformed. And completely untrue. The only part that is correct is the part that it is " 'becoming more "normal" all the time' ". I say thank goodness it is becoming more normal and to be more accepted behavior by those who in the past would have been degraded and derided for engaging in something which is highly worthy of the time and effort we put into it with such intensity. If anything we need writers here who are defending our hobby, not tearing it down by writing about being infuriated at other's play habits (I don't even know what to say about calling wedding and funeral traditions silly). The tone of this editorial is just all wrong all wrong all wrong for us here. We get enough of this kind of stuff every so often from the mainstream media such as the New York Times, or NewsWeek, or see some "study" done by DatelineNBC extoling the harm gaming does, and pointing out how weird and disturbed the players are. If you actually read or watch one of those "reports", it is almost humorous how far off-base they are - how detached from the reality of gaming they are and how little they actually understand beyond a few buzzwords promoting this "harmful" activity we engage in. To see someone on the "inside" spouting off such drivel is disappointing.

I would really like to see a rebuttal editorial article written by one of the other editors here who would rather promote the postive side of our chosen activity, of our chosen *culture*. It is not an "unhealthy obsession"... this is our culture and there are literally millions of us covering this planet of ours to whom this is perfectly normal behavior in this new age of constant connectivity. Yep, normal... the NEW normal. Even the 36-hour straight lan parties, the power-leveling grind in a new game, literally hundreds and hundreds of free MMOs each with thousands and thousands of players constantly engaged and online socialising, grouping, partying, making new friends, making new enemies, forming alliances, creating, disbanding, learning, experiencing and achieving almost constantly... you can't be a real part of this gaming reality without the investment of some TIME and often vast amounts of it. It just goes with the territory, but it's not for everyone to be sure, just like studying the intricacies of Chess is not for everyone. Some people devote their lives to the study of Chess and the vast number of strategies, the mathmatics of it, the opening moves, the middle game and the endgame tactics and learn every detail and stratagem they can about Chess. It's not something I would choose to do, but I'm not going to say those Chess players that devote their spare time to it are harmfully obsessive. Or any other activity or sport for that matter.

Myself and my friends are healthy well-adjusted reasonably successful adults who just happen to love MMO gaming and we prove it by playing a lot. Sometimes even if it's just grinding to achieve some in-game goal or title or achievement. Thats all it is, no one needs to read anything else into it, or say as in the last paragraph that we "need to change".

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 11:09PM Birk said

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@Slayblaze

I think you may have taken a few things said out of context. It was my impression that the article was aimed at the most extreme examples of hardcore-ness...not normal MMO activity.

The part where grinding and unhealthy habits comes into play is when its in pursuit of that extreme level of hardcore-ness.

-Birk
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 12:37AM Slayblaze said

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@Birk

I did understand that, and I was speaking out in defense of what seemed to be an indightment against that extreme level of hardcore-ness, which (and I don't mean to sound self-serving) I count myself amongst that group. Many of my friends are very hardcore also, going back even to the early days of online gaming. As in the most hardcore OF the hardcore. At least in how it is being defined here, such as: spending hours and hours online in various MMOG's, not being satisfied with simply 'playing a game" but turning it into a finely honed experience by practicing, finetuning for days and days, researching, trying dozens of different MMOs to such an extent that to the outside observer would appear to be obsessive. And it IS obsessive. Just not harmfully so. We could just as easily be really into Bowling or Baseball or Fishing or going out every night for hours on end bar-hopping and getting drunk and going to strip clubs or picking up chicks. We could be going out picking fights or beating up gays or gangbanging in the streets. I've known people who do all those things... and I've done some of them myself in the PAST.

But you know what? Instead of all that we turn our efforts into something that we enjoy and while it may not reap actual physical rewards in the Real World, that doesn't matter - that's not how we measure "sucess" or "productivity". For the rest of the world that *does* define things that way, well that's fine for them, but puh-leeeeze do NOT deign to think there is something "wrong" or "dangerous" in being hardcore a hardcore raider or grinder or MMO-er or whatever. I expect to see that kind of attitude from those who simply don't know any better, who go through life mostly oblivious of the online gaming scene or only know it from their kids playing XBox or something. I just didn't expect to see that *here* and it rubs me the wrong way, as do all these other comments singing the praises of the original editorial. It was not a good writeup especially from the perspective of a "hardcore raider" as the title states, sorry to say. My opinion.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 11:34PM Nandini said

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What exactly does the alleged phenomenon Beau is discussing have to do with games that are F2P versus subscription-based games? Only one paragraph in the article attempts to address this, and it does so with a point that applies equally to subscription-based games.

If you're going to indict the gaming industry and/or gamers for their behavior, feel free to give specific examples to back up your points. Ranting generically against the whole world is unlikely to bring about change in any individual.

I'm also tired of seeing the word "grind" in Massively columns. I think it should be a forbidden word. If authors wish to use this concept, they should instead write out specifically which types of behavior they're referring to. It means something different in every context and to every individual.

Posted: Feb 10th 2011 12:46AM Slayblaze said

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@Nandini

Yup, that's part of exactly what I'm talking about. It's derogatory.

That should not be done here and I am stunned, absolutely flabbergasted about all these people that are saying "Thanks for writing this you helped me so much bla bla blah it's a great article gaming addiction is so terrbile people die from it they're stupid poor misguided gamers bla bla blah they only like loot and live off pizza and beer bla bla blah".

Let the hardcore be hardcore and you play games the way YOU want to ok?
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 12:27AM (Unverified) said

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Thanks for writing this, Beau. Though it is pretty much preaching to the choir!

Posted: Feb 10th 2011 4:31AM pcgneurotic said

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What's the game in the first screenshot? It looks sooo familiar but I just can't place it.

Posted: Feb 10th 2011 9:52AM Shibboleth said

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I have been trying to match up your title, with your content and you conclusion. I can not seem to do it. As a whole this disorganized rant reminds me of the four blind men and the elephant. MANY assumptions are made in this rant with very little anecdotal evidence to support them and no real data what so ever. What little conclusion you have is built on a house of cards.

Because of your rants it makes it very hard to give credence to any of your onions because in them you display a tremendous lack of social understanding. I view your opinions because of this as the equivalent of going to see my plumber about a heart condition. His opinion should be valid because it is all just plumbing right?

I agree that you should try to avoid habits that endanger your long term health. BUT I am not sure you can view this as the major problem in all of the possible concerns with F2P gaming.

It is your kind of logic that has led us to the health and safety regulation silliness we live in today.

Posted: Feb 10th 2011 2:19PM Shibboleth said

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@Tempes Magus

" Common subscription player consensus "

Really??? Once again how do you know this? Of the 10 million wow players for instance, how many post on the forums? what percentage? 100%, 50%, or 10%....... The truth is you dont know, and niether does Beua. Are these opinions feuled by the verbal minority?
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Posted: Feb 11th 2011 4:20AM Valdamar said

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@Tempes Magus
>"How many people come in here saying "F2P are just crappy Asian grinders"?"

Admittedly every person who posts a comment on Massively is a person that wants to share an opinion, and on the whole that opinion is likely to be positive or negative, so you're going to get a lot of opinions here that are very polarised and extreme and not at all representative of the majority of gamers.

In most games the people who are satisfied with the game are actually in the game playing it, it's usually the people with an axe to grind or an agenda to pursue that are on the forums or comment websites instead making negative/positive comments.
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Posted: Feb 11th 2011 5:15AM Shibboleth said

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@Tempes Magus

We are talking about the problems with F2P. Some how (and no one knows) Beua wants us to believe that our primary concern should be the general health of the gaming community. That is an absurd argument with no real support.

You can talk about tea, intergalactic geopolitics and your mothers health. But you can not argue against my point by talking about ather things
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 9:53AM Jeromai said

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Hear, hear. I blame WoW for promoting a popular acceptance of obsessive achievement at the expense of health, thanks to how they've designed their game. Mostly because WoW has a huge reach and effect on what is considered 'normal' by the MMO community - see the blind acceptance of holy trinity design and other stuff WoW does.

The unhealthy design is inherent in the DIKU foundation though. Which is probably where the F2P games get it. Some of them are not above being blatantly immoral and utilizing it, and taking it even more steps further, aka using gambling and casino-like schemes to hook players to virtual loot.

I'm a little bit more of an optimist though. If a cynical one.

I don't think most people in general can sustain such an obsessive pursuit for long (meaning ~4-5 years.) Even the crazy hardcore example linked in the article admits he can only sustain it for the crucial period of a couple weeks to indulge his vanity and his social obligation to his guild in getting a 'world first.'

(Thanks Blizzard for implementing that. It's effing immoral to encourage your players to play unhealthily, not to mention unsustainable if they regularly drop dead of a heart attack, but nevermind, that's just my opinion. No different from cigarette companies downplaying the hazards of smoking or fast food companies promoting their calorie-laden fests as healthy options which we all know happens in reality. We just have to decide ourselves if we want to support those actions by supporting the company, is all.)

I do believe that ultimately, thanks to hedonistic adaptation, folks will get tired of the repeated pattern. Is the 97th world first going to feel as exciting as the first couple of them? In an aging game? I don't think so. Tedium and burnout will sneak up. Even the best champions don't win forever. Someone else will beat them one day, and as the win streak becomes more spotty, the will to continue starts to dwindle. Yeah, rivalry may keep it going for a while longer, but there's only so many people that can take up residence at the top.

It may take certain people longer than others. Some may never tire of the obsessive achievement. But I don't think you're going to see a shift of mindset towards increased worship of the hardcore playing at the cost of a bunch of other things. Maybe a cynical acceptance that yeah, some people play that way, it's up to them how they want to live their lives.

On the contrary, I see a positive indication in the recent trend of upcoming MMOs to pay at least lip service to the soloist, the can't-spare-the-time-to-team, those who want to control their teaming time via open groups or public quests, those who want narrative storylines and meaningful immersion for their characters. I don't see many raids getting cripplingly harder or imposing requirements of large numbers that must gather in certain spots at certain times.

Quite the opposite seems to be happening. The trend seems to be moving towards shorter and shorter play sessions, with choice in the hands of the players as to how long they want to spend in-game, plus some top-tier options for the hardcore to keep them pacified climbing the ladder and running the treadmill they seem to like so much.

Posted: Feb 10th 2011 10:13AM Nandini said

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The first paragraph mentions "heavy grind" or "heavy grinding" three times. The author should give some specific examples of the type of activity he's referring to, so we can better understand the threat it poses to us all.

Also in the first paragraph, the author makes a rather stated point about his age. Does this mean that he feels his opinion is typical of gamers his age, atypical of gamers his age, or something gamers his age should aspire to? What about gamers who are older or younger?

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