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Thoughts of a Casual MMOer

My thoughts on gaming as a person who enjoys RP and gaming while balancing a full time job.

Author: haratu

Family on the Side

Posted by haratu Saturday August 22 2009 at 11:21PM
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I recently began playing Age of Conan and having heard many rumours of immaturity int he game I was far more careful this time around with choosing a guild to join. needless to say this was easier than anticipated.

Now you may be thinking, "Oh no, he is going to start on an AoC rant about how great it is," well I would love to, but that is not what the blog is about, what it is about is the way players manage to deal with their families while juggling the rigors of an MMO, and this is something I got a new insight into in the guild I joined.

The advantage of AoC when dealing with guilds is that adult gamers are not hard to find, with the adult themes and violence then many respectable parents will not let their kids play the game (or at least no knowing parents), this leads to numerous family orientated adults who in other games seem somewhat harder to find in the mix of youth. This was exactly what I found in my guild, a bunch of fathers and husbands.

It is an amazing thing to be in a guild where you suddenly hear on vent a little toddler ask his father for dinner, it is even more amazing when that father says he has to leave to have dinner, it is triply more amazing when the rest of the guild is not annoyed, and in fact encourage it. Hearing spouses, kids, and friends in the background of vent is something I have not experienced before, and it feels odd.

The oddity comes in that the guild family extends further than the game, when you realise that each player has a family, friends and spouses you think of the guild being much larger than it really is. While a good guild often looks after its members, a mature guild looks after its family, whether that be in the game, or encouraging them to have a normal life. Appreciating that the wellbeing of your guild also involves the relationships outside the game is something I think many younger gamers forget.

Or maybe those younger gamers just are not old enough to know what it feels like.

Working at home and MMOs

Posted by haratu Thursday August 6 2009 at 7:44PM
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The two workplaces you are most likely to pick up the common cold in a first world country would most likely have to be a hospital, and a school. For those who have been living in Australia in the past six months you would probably have heard that as soon as swine flu is discovered in a school the school is closed down to slow the spread. Imagine 1000 plus students all going to their respective homes, all meeting up to a hundred different people each day and passing by another hundred in close proximity, it is germ city. It is for this reason that I (a teacher) am today sitting at home with a searing pain in my throat and avoiding spreading my evilness to everyone else.

The Problem

I now find myself in a dilemna, to my left is my awesome gaming machine, to my right is my crappy work laptop, and in front of me is my personal laptop I am writing this on. I have tonnes of work today, however I also desire to play Age of Conan (that I decided to buy last week). Ironically such a problem is not limited to myself. Another teacher at school with a craze for World of Warcraft has the same temptation as I do when he gets a sick day. So how can I get lots of work done and still take time for play?

The Solutions

45/15

The first solution I have is based upon a system I first heard about when studying for my end of high school exams. This is based upon 45 minutes of study, followed by 15 minutes of rest or play (there are reasons for these figures which I will not delve into). This system is fantastic becasue it is a round figure of 1 hour and gives you something to aim for. Naturally the usual MMOer sees that 15minutes is really not enough time to truly get immersed in an MMO, so while this might work for a game like Plants vs Zombies, it really won't help with quest running.

Reward based

Sometimes it is worth saying "you finish this program writeup and you can play for an hour". A reward system works for many people, especially kiddies, however most people need some sort of authority to control it, there is little point in a reward system if you can not enforce it. Kiddies have their parents, but adults have difficulty because police really donot help you in this area.

Multi-task

This wass a system I used extensively in university while playign Eve: online. I would set up my ship mining an asteroid field and window it to a part of the screen, then set up my report I needed to write in another part of the screen, a casual glance to the game allowed me to check it and change it quickly for pirates or new asteroids while I still worked onwards. What a great idea... for Eve. It does not work in an MMO like AoC or WoW where you have to constantly move... and no, I will not 'cheat'.

Electronic Authority

There are several computer software and hardware systems that will time your play and work and then stop a program when you reach the time limit. I am not referring to an alarm, I mean the program STOPS. This is a system my brother uses extensively as he is a very focussed person when it comes to bright shiny things on screens. This of course poses a serious problem when you know lots about how such software/hardware works, such as myself and can easily just change it to what I want. it is like making the traffic lights turn green... if you could you would.

Delete

Okay, so this is the serious result to a serious problem... my argument for this is that it only works if you are not going to play for more than a week, toherwise you will be spending too much time reinstalling it anyway.

Laptops

laptops are fantastic as you can literally move away from the problem. Sitting in a cafeteria with a laptop which has no games on and you cant help but start working. the problem is making sure it has no games on... and dont forget that if you have connection to the internet that it does have games on... damn wireless!

Movies

I have left the best till last, this is the one I will be using in 15minutes when I start work. See, my gaming machine also happens to be my television, Blu-ray player, and media centre. this means that if I stick a movie into the thing then I can claim that I can not play a game on it because it is being used, plus I can also watch a movie while working. My boss is happy because I get work done, and I am happy because I get to watch a movie. I also give myself a time limit of approximately 90-160 minutes between times I play a game so that I know how much time I have spent working.

Now I have a second problem... what to watch?

 

A little bit of rest.

Posted by haratu Saturday August 1 2009 at 7:29PM
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Introduction

So you get home after a grueling day at work or school (or both in my case) and sit down at the computer to your favourite game, a few hours tick by, a couple monsters collapse in a pile of decaying [in 3minutes] flesh. You feel relaxed. Wrong!

You feel stressed by the 2 idiots that kept shooting their weapons at everything that moved, your emotions are going nuts by the guild members who say you are not pulling your weight, your eyes are still darting around trying to find that damn mob you need to finish the quest. Seriously, if you are not stressed then you got something wrong.

Body [clock]

I have found over the last several years of gaming that the rule of one day of rest recommended by doctors, Jews, Christians, and Muslims [that is an extremely large slice of the population] does not just apply to work, it also applies to gaming.

For a long while I was finding myself gaming every day, especially on my 'days off' and then wondering why I was so worn out at work. It was nto until last year that I went on a gaming sabbatical for three months that I realised how worn out games were making me. My work stopped becoming a droning wasteland and I began to sleep better and wake up more easily. I then began MMOs again.

After testing several MMOs I arrived at several conditions that make an MMO more relaxing.

1. Guilds are stressful. Such emotional drains can be extremely exhausting. While some guilds are great, even the best ones can lead you to complain to your wife constantly how 'Xerxes' [no one I know] is secretly trying to depose you from council and 'Juan' is totally ruining the fabric of the guild. I have found that a friend list is much less stressful than a guild, unless you got a guild in name only, or a family (real life) guild.

2. Instances make me angry. Really that should read 'people make me angry' because it is not the instances that cause anger, it is those that stuff it up. Most game instances are just a melting pot waiting to explode and recognising this and quitting early is a good quality to have. Saying this, Tabula Rasa instances I found never had this problem due to the open nature.

3. PuGs rock! the great thing about a PuG is you don't have to worry about pissing someone off, not only that but if you are not worrying then people like you more. While many people claim they get angry with PuGs I find that at least it is less stressful than people you know. When they are bastards you just ignore them and there is no consequences for your social life.

4. Family gaming is best. When you have a wife that is a gamer like me you quickly learn that gaming stops being a chore when you make it into family time. nothing is more relaxing than having your wife tear apart a giant spider while you heal her. It is so beautiful tears are coming to my eyes, I can't wait to have kids and watch them feast on dragons.

5. One day of rest. As mentioned above, I usually have one day a week of rest from gaming. Sometimes this day falls on a normal work day, and sometimes it falls on a weekend, either way it gives me time to relax, sit back and read a book, write, or just watch a soppy movie about a bunch of Americans who just saved each other  while everyone else died.

Conclusion

Since I have started watching my gaming and taking a bit of time out I can attest to improving my work, waking up more easily, and finding more time to do more useful things. I, and those around me, would still say I am a serious gamer, but I am more casual about it, perhaps this is the definition of a casual gamer? The ability to say "I need a rest, no gaming today!"

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