A short while ago we posted our Not That Important article, in which we take a stand and defend the idea that gaming is just a distraction, no matter how passionate; it’s a hobby that serves as complement to a well-lived real life.
This idea seems to be gaining traction, if we take a look at this recent Kotaku article. Someone has been reading the Retro Sports Club…
Many players, even after all these problems and setbacks, keep playing even if the game is making them unhappy, angry or disappointed. Folks, it’s time to stop playing. It’s okay to take a break.
There’s nothing here I’d disagree with. Games are supposed to bring us fun and an enjoyable challenge; if they don’t, they’re not worth our time. Fortunately there are countless games out there for one to play, decade upon decade of titles waiting for people to enjoy them. The issue here is that modern games, particularly the ones that matter most to us here – sports games – are often built to provide virtual, online worlds to the gamer, and once he accepts the premise and becomes part of that “hive”, he enters a position in which he’s bound to lose all control over his gaming life.
I remember taking a few days off GTA Online and returning to see players triple my level already. I remember panicking. I needed to catch up. But I really didn’t. Falling behind isn’t a big deal, even if your brain disagrees.
Here, the writer himself shows why it’ll be hard even for him to follow his own advice. Taking a break from gaming, as he put it, is a luxury that the modern gamer can’t afford after he enters the world of a Ultimate Team or a myClub. As we stated on our own article, these worlds are living organisms that thrive because of the millions of players that support it, so the absence of one of those millions will not only not hurt the world itself in any significant way, but rather the party that loses is exactly the player undergoing a gaming hiatus – for, as this writer states, the gamer will have to play catch-up and make up for the time lost, while everyone else progressed within that virtual world.
The generation of gamers of which I’m a part of never had to face this particular problem. I can’t remember how many times I was able to finish an entire season of a Master League save on a single week/couple of weeks, only to spend many months playing the following season. At times I’d play 5 matches a day, only to play a total of 1 spanning across many weeks. Whatever your schedule looked like, gaming was able to fit it and adapt to one’s real-world ventures. No matter how long my break from gaming was, the Master League save would always be there, waiting for me to get back to it. It didn’t matter whether I spent one day or one year not playing the save, that virtual world would’ve remained unchanged. Such thing is not possible nowadays on these myClubs and Ultimate Teams, as those worlds do move on without you. It’s out of your control.
Many games these days launch in various states of finished. It seems nearly every major game release has a roadmap. It can often feel like these roadmaps are plans for when the game will become better. When it will finally be fun. Maybe even when it finally becomes good? Yet these roadmaps are also a great indication that perhaps it’s best to stop playing and wait.
This is a whole new different issue which is very typical of modern gaming, one that affects sports gaming in an obvious way. We’ll certainly get back to this topic in order to discuss it in a more detailed manner. While the writer speaks of the modern game as a “roadmap”, I prefer to look at it through the eyes of the player himself. That player is, currently, merely a beta-tester for game developers. According to the findings (the reactions) of the majority of those players, the game will be tuned over time through patches and updates. While I certainly applaud the proactivity of these developers, ever eager to please their audience, players now know that the money they spend on a game is not going to get them a finished product – which is something that would be outrageous 10, 15 years ago. Essentially, nowadays gamers pay for the “privilege” of becoming beta-testers. It’s tragically ironic.
Naturally, this process shortens the lifespan of any title as the gamer never quite knows, as the author states, when the game will finally play nicely. For all he knows, he could be waiting for something that might never actually happen.
As we said here before, we’re not consumers, and we surely aren’t beta-testers. We are people who happen to like gaming, but who aren’t desperate enough to cling onto a situation that doesn’t benefit us. If we don’t like a certain game as it currently plays, we’ll just go play something else. This idea puts us back at the driver’s seat, in control.
This is an important thing to remember as more and more games become “live experiences”. I like the idea of a game growing and updating over time, just don’t feel like you need to stick around through all of that evolution.
I get the idea that the author tries to pass on with this article, but one can’t just say words and hope people become magically attracted to its meaning. One can’t just tell people to stop playing because they’re “feeling bad” about gaming, and hope it’ll solve the problem. The issue here is that modern gaming, particularly sports gaming, is all about creating purposely addictive platforms to lure the player in. Get in and play, and you’ll become a beta-tester who’ll never quite know when he’ll actually enjoy the game; get out and don’t play, and you’ll allow your ingame “competitors” to become better than you by evolving on the game’s platform, while you sit back and watch yourself lose. It’s a lose-lose prospect.
Therefore, as much as I see where the author is coming from, deciding to take a break from gaming won’t solve the issue. One first has to comprehend what exactly is the place of the modern player on this modern environment, and when he sees what I see, he’ll understand that almost all of these issues stem from him taking gaming too seriously, and can be solved by adopting the mentality that gaming is not that important at all. It’s a hobby, a passtime, a distraction. Once this is truly internalized, there’ll be no need for gaming websites to write articles with titles such as “It’s Okay to Stop Playing” because the player will already have the habit and passion of gaming under his complete and masterful control. He’ll play what he wants, when he wants, for how long he himself decides to.