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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 11:10AM Beau Hindman said

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@Nandini As far as "heavy grinding," I feel that the blog I linked to defines it pretty well.

My age was listed to show that I do not need a game to be telling me what to do -- in other words, a second job. I am old enough to make my own decisions.

Beau
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 6:11PM Nandini said

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@Beau Hindman

I read the blog post you linked to.

Is spending 8 hours raiding as part of a guild that routinely achieves world-first kills really a "heavy grind", or is it a commitment to excellence? Those 8 hours a night end when the encounters are learned, bosses go down, and that tier of raiding is cleared.

If no guilds committed to doing this, other guilds might not be able to come along, watch the videos, get the updated boss mods with data from the world-first attempts, and finish it all in 2 hours.

I don't think this anecdote is typical of gamers, and really not even stereotypical of gamers.

The guild doing this is sponsored by several companies, so it's not like there's no benefit to their members. Ironically, your job analogy might actually be backwards in this specific case. They're just doing what their sponsors are paying them to do.

Nothing about the game itself encourages this behavior. You can get the same rewards whether you spend 8 hours a day for a week to do it first or spend 45 minutes in one night 12 months later, minus the prestige title.
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 11:22AM Sladden said

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Great article!

And all my friends complain on me because I am playing 10 games. But you know what...I love it! You shouldn't be stuck in one game and just "grind" so it will become a work...we play because it is fun. Sure, I am not the best player in any games I play with my friends, and that can be very frustrating, because I really want to. But at the end...how fun did he really had when spending so much time on same game everyday? Like alot of peoples, like me, play WoW on and off, because we play it too much and it becomes a "work" and you (I atleast) get sad and then just quit. WoW is fun the first month after a 3-5 months break, and I am sure that alot of people agree with me.

In a way...you made my day Beau! Now I feel happy again, and I will play some BC2, BO, EQ2 and Vanguard today, without being sad, for not being the best player! Sometimes we forgett that we play for fun :)

Posted: Feb 11th 2011 5:04AM Valdamar said

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@Tempes Magus
I bet Beau plays games for a lot more hours per week than a lot of people who define themselves as casual gamers. I'd like to see Beau present a typical day from his schedule in this column (rather than being aghast about a non-typical day from a raider's schedule) so that we had some added context to put his comments into.

Posted: Feb 11th 2011 5:17AM Shibboleth said

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other*

Posted: Feb 11th 2011 6:45AM Valdamar said

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You know it seems odd to me that in a column that is supposed to be about F2P games, you use an extreme example from a P2P game and screenshots from P2P games too /shrug

I was rather obsessive about my raiding when I played EverQuest - for about 2 years my weekday routines added up to 8 hours at work, 4-5 hours in the pub after work, 5-6 hours raiding/grouping in EverQuest (UK player in US guild on US server - we had no server for our region back then), 4 hours sleep per night, with the remaining hours spent on commuting and daily necessities - then at weekends I'd be playing EQ for at least 12 hours per day, sometimes doing 18 hours in one long session across 2 days. I wasn't even in a top tier guild - the top tier guilds would have labelled my guild "casual" just because our gear wasn't as good as theirs and we were several raids behind them.

It may not have been healthy and seems somewhat obsessive to me now, and you could say it was unsustainable (although I sustained it for the better part of 2 years), but I wouldn't say it was destructive behaviour because I still met all of my RL responsibilities to my job, my family and my own finances, I still had a social life outside of games (ironically a much busier one than I have now that I actually game far less), and I wasn't addicted because I could quit at any time (and eventually I did). In fact I've known people who were just as obsessive about a sport or other hobbies who had it affect their lives more negatively than gaming ever affected mine.

I'd never raid like that now - but the main reason I avoid raiding in MMOs these days isn't the amount of time it takes, it is just that I don't like that expectation that I have to log in for raids - I'm not looking for responsibilities in a game, even though I like the same challenges that I always did and I'm still the same explorer-achiever Bartle type that I always was - but these days if I just want to relax and don't feel like logging in, then I want to have the freedom to do so without people I don't even know in RL getting grumpy at me because I was supposed to be online attending a raid.

But then even just playing for 25 hours a week can get you labelled as a hardcore gamer these days with these easier and less time intensive MMOs we have nowadays. The changing perception is mainly due, I think, to the early pioneer MMO gamers getting older and picking up more familial responsibilities (and the fact that some of those pioneer MMO gamers are now actually making MMOs), but I also think there's a massive influx of new gamers who really weren't your typical MMO gamers before and they have far different expectations - they're just as happy playing dress up, knocking down the occassional mob with no risk/challenge and hanging around chatting to other social butterflies - and they're almost universally horrified by the thought of the old traditional MMO gameplay that seemed so normal 5-10 years ago, i.e. raiding and grinding (nothing I've seen lately really compares to the grind of EQ in 1999-2001 - it could be punishing to spend 5 hours in a good group and not see your xp bar move one pixel, then have one death remove so much xp you lost a level). Neither playstyle is more valid than the other, imho, but those with an agenda will crusade against one or the other in a bid to get the games made that they personally want.

As I write this I haven't actually played a videogame of any kind in 3 days - admittedly during beta 5 of Rift: Planes of Telara a little while ago I got a Mage from L1 to L30 in 3 days by playing for excessive amounts of time (by the /played count I think it took 2 days and something like 4 hours to hit cap - then I went and did the L30 dungeon in a group for several hours), and before that I got a Warrior from L1-20 in beta 3, just because my schedule allowed it and I wanted to test the content that I knew most players wouldn't be able to reach (and sure enough I found some bugs and balance issues). I'm sure somebody will find that horrifying because I only got around 8 hours sleep across that 3 day period, but I was able to catch up on my sleep debt in the next few days and those short intensive testing sessions have not damaged my health or my life in any way I can perceive.

So am I hardcore or casual? Most would probably say hardcore reading this, but I can be both at different times to the point where the words are beginning to have no meaning for me - I don't feel I need to balance my gaming so that it takes up the same proportion of every day, sometimes I want to binge and sometimes I want to abstain as whimsy and circumstance dictate - and as the meanings of hardcore and casual seem to change every single year I reserve the right to not be labelled by either of them because they're fairly worthless stereotypical terms that nobody can really define satisfactorily.

Honestly that WoW raiders blog didn't seem that shocking to me (well, the fact he could check forums and IRC at work seemed fairly shocking - in most of the offices I've worked in you'd get fired for doing any kind of personal business on a work PC when you're supposed to be working), but then in EverQuest I knew tons of people who'd take a week off work just to camp a rare spawn for their epic quest, killing placeholder mobs every 25-35minutes for several days until it spawned, playing for much longer hours in one session than that raider did.

I'm not excusing that kind of play or that kind of game design and I'm glad that those kinds of time-intensive follies are no longer required in MMOs and are going the way of the dodo.

But regardless of how a game is designed, if my schedule allows it and I want to play for excessive amounts of time in short bursts (or even in long bursts) then I sure as heck don't want some nannying do-gooder saying "tsk tsk" in a mock aggrieved tone and waving their finger at me just because they're a bit peeved that I've played a game for longer than they think I should have (especially when I wouldn't criticise them back for their lack of focus, bouncing around between several games, spending not much time in each, and achieving very little, something I would find rather pointless and unsatisfying). Everyone has different lives and routines, focus on different things in their lives at different times, and find different things fun - and really it's no-ones business but the individual's and their nearest and dearest whether they want to play a game excessively or not.

Sure, present the health risks if you feel it's your duty as a game journalist to put it out there, Beau, but to use this as part of your personal crusade for ever more casual gameplay in MMOs, just because that's the kind of gameplay you personally prefer, strikes me as somewhat weak. I wonder if Kruf would stoop to attacking your preferred style of play, as you have attacked his (for what he already said was untypical behaviour for him). He did what he did not because the game required/demanded it, but because he and his guild wanted to beat other players to a certain goal - blame peer pressure if you want, but don't blame the game for making him do it because he already stated his reasons and it was beating other players to a world first, not beating the game, that drove him on.

In truth I really don't see how gaming obsession can be getting worse when MMOs are getting easier and more casual every year, unless it's just from the larger influx of gamers coming into the MMO genre now making obsessional cases more visible in general. So I think it's probably a perception issue rather than a rising trend that can be laid squarely at the feet of the games.

Posted: Feb 14th 2011 6:46AM Aelon said

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There's another facet of this I've been trying to get my head around lately: players (raiders) who basically treat some of the nicest (in real life) people like complete crap in-game because they aren't as skilled as them. I've come through an entire raiding career watching that and, yes, participating in it at times, all in the name of "performance" or... something, but I've come to a point where my brain is screaming "insanity!" at this and now I want nothing to do with it. Maybe it's because I'm also around your age. I'm retreating back to games that are just "fun" with no pressure and no one raging about DPS meters. Fun is where games started out for me, many years ago as a child, and it feels like as gaming became so pervasive, people have lost their way, no longer even able to recognize it in its pure sense.

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