With school returning to the two-night-a-week format for Routers and Switches II, I've been hard pressed to find time for my MMO fix lately. Eve is on hold while a month-long skill training completes, so for my 10 minute to 1 hour sessions I've been playing a couple of 20ish level alts on WoW. This new experience of playing for extremely short periods or not getting to play at all has given me a new perspective on how I think about these games.
I used to think of MMO time as an investment that would pay off "someday". Since I've returned to college and become more concerned with how I spend my energy in RL, however, the old ideas of "success" and "accomplishment" as they relate to gaming have started to seem a little silly. Instead, I've begun thinking more and more in terms of immediate turnaround on my entertainment dollars.
Obviously, most of us see MMOs and gaming in general as having value. The main change in my thinking has been where I look for that value to manifest itself. I used to think it was in the endgame. Since I have comparatively little time, or patience with the tedious endgame content of most games for that matter, my expectations were often frustrated. This led to constant sub/unsub/resub cycles that drove my family and guildmates insane.
Now that I have come to expect immediate entertainment value from my games, well, I'm finding it. For example, I had an extra ten minutes between my shower and commute this week while nobody else was screaming for attention in my house. I spent that time levelling my fishing on my Druid in Ashenvale and drinking coffee. It was the most relaxing and entertaining thing I had done in weeks. That proved to me that I needn't wait for the payoff in fun from my games. If I'm not already having fun doing what I'm doing, what's the point? That may seem like such an obvious statement, but I think most of us need to remind ourselves of its truth every now and then.