At dinner with a friend last night, I was asked what games I’ve been playing lately. It forced me to vocalize something I had been bothered by and not wanting to say out loud to anyone – I hadn’t played any of the new games I bought over a month ago. The plan was to become a tumor on the couch and breeze through Rise of the Tomb Raider, Undertale, Fallout 4, and a bunch more I purchased but didn’t have the time to play until after my semester ended. Alas – none of that happened.
What happened instead was I also purchased the Legendary edition of Destiny to try and get back into the game (I gave up on vanilla around level 20, a few missions short of the end of the main storyline of the game) by playing with friends. And get back into the game I did. It’s been the first MMO I’ve been really hooked on (despite trying World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2). A few days ago I spent all day farming bounties and getting resources for upgrades and a sword. Most of my winter break from school was spent farming levels to get my first character somewhere reasonable for strikes and the first few raids.
So this friend asked me what I’d been playing and I had to say “I’ve been playing nothing but Destiny and Smite.” Smite is a 3rd person MOBA made by Hi-Rez Studios, and is the first MOBA I’ve ever been hooked on. Late last year I succumbed to peer pressure and tried to play a big friendy in-house of DoTA 2 and hated it. My conclusion was DoTA 2 is for smart people, and Smite is for us common folk. Before that encounter, I tried League of Legends a few times in years past and never got into it – going back to it for a few games with friends in my program it’s pace didn’t capture my interest like Smite did, I would assume because of the camera angle.
This is the first time in my life I’ve been stuck in a spiral of live, online games that don’t just end. This is also the first time in my life I’ve had friends I felt comfortable playing games online with. But even so, my all day farm session in Destiny recently was solo, intentionally, and I was so happy for it to be so. I do a lot of solo queueing in Smite because I don’t play a lot of their traditional 5 v 5 map (the rage from sub-par players toward all the rest of us sub-par players is too aggravating for what should just be a game). I finally did join a clan but the few times I’ve been online since joining, anyone that asks to queue together, I just ignore.
This also boils down to deeper considerations like, why do I feel guilty enjoying a game, even if I dump hundreds of hours into it? Why is that bad, when to some, it’s the most cost efficient game I’ve ever purchased? I’m sure part of it goes to being in a game design master’s program. Like all disciplines, you have to be well versed in it to have the most tools at your disposal to create new and/or interesting things within that discipline. I.e. read often and widely to write, watch often and widely to create films, and play often and widely to make games. But here I am, returning to the same killing fields over and over and over again every day.
So in the academic sense, is there a parallel to playing these games incessantly that’s akin to reading deeply? Analyzing texts requires becoming immersed in all the minutiae of the text. Can I claim analyzing the minutiae of the game, which requires playing nothing else? Maybe. If I were really doing that. Smite lends itself to that, as a competitive eSport. It demands to be analyzed to improve or be halfway decent at – if I didn’t learn something deeper about the game 90% of the time I played then I would be getting stomped every game. And I take pride in saying I only get stomped in 50% of the games I play. Ha HA!
Spiraling deeper into this rabbit hole of self-reflection, I also acknowledge that I don’t play games very deeply in general. My introspection is around the level of “why was this enjoyable? What did it do well? What could it improve on?” not “What was the intent behind these systems to inform my player experience?” Throughout my program, I’ve been adamant that I am not a game designer. Mostly because true game design positions are a lot of spreadsheets, testing variable changes in slight directions, and seeing how those effects propagate out through the game. I don’t have the patience for that. Give me a to-do list, and I will become possessed with the notion of getting list completed (again, part of my recent infatuation with Destiny) regardless of what the end product actually is, so long as it actually fits the quality benchmark set forth at the start of the project.
That infatuation also speaks to some my addictive tendencies. Why can’t I enjoy an hour a day of a game and move on to another game? For me, that will be a learned skill at some point. I feel the height of immersion at around the 4th hour. So jumping in for an hour and jumping out just doesn’t seem worth it to me. I definitely play video games for escapism; due to that, immersion is my preferred state of game playing. And that is a state easily achieved when I have an infinite number of checklists, ala Destiny.
In the end, what am I saying? Mostly nothing. Just rambling my thoughts because I realized recently I missed this site. Ultimately, I know I shouldn’t feel bad about playing whatever I want, even if it’s the same thing day in and day out. I should’t feel guilty about not getting through my Steam/console/mobile backlog, regardless of my student status. Having said that, it’s not a bad thing to consider taking a break from games that offer little novelty and diving into critically acclaimed alternatives, even if it requires forcing myself to do so. If for no other reason, it’ll give me more fodder to come back to this page with.
Do you guys struggle with this phenomenon? What do you attribute it to? I’m genuinely curious to hear your experiences and thoughts on this topic – it’s one I’ve wrestled with a lot the past few months.
To my fellow LoL addicts,
We can probably think of nothing better than playing a competitive game of League, and have subconsciously convinced ourselves that we are becoming better human beings by doing so. But is it really any good for us?
Since it’s already what we believe, we should first discuss the benefits. While there are many, the one that seemed the most impressive was a study carried out by surgeons who played League of Legends (obviously not while in surgery). Results showed that 27% of surgeons were faster and made 37% less errors than surgeons who did not play LoL. I know, most of you aren’t surgeons and this is not applicable, but it’s the principle behind this statistic which is outstanding, that playing of League was able to enhance concentration! As all LoL players are familiar, it takes a high degree of concentration, one that is not matched by any other game, so much so that the concentration translates to other aspects of life. Great, huh? While the next statistic is fairly generalized, it applies nonetheless; gaming reduces stress levels by 17%. Yes, League of Legends is a game, so it does apply. There is nothing better than coming home from a stressful day at work and unwinding by screaming at teammates, telling them that they do not know what they’re doing. That’s the life.
Now to the segment we had all been dreading. I could pretend that there aren’t any cons and we could all live in our peaceful and delusional world but alas – I cannot. I’m sure the most common disadvantage of League is that it’s time consuming. After a few games, hours have flown by. Although this is all down to the player, it is extremely easy to lose track of time, especially with the inability to see the time on the monitor while in game. Riot Games has managed to put out a very polished final product, which they were kind enough to make free to the public. The irony is that their graciousness comes at a price. The implementation of riot points has made it almost impossible to be successful at the game without spending any money. Whether through champions or runes, you will end up purchasing something in game.
Although I wasn’t able to cover all areas of pros and cons, I hope this overview gives you a great enough insight as to whether or not League of Legends is good for you, as long as you play in moderation, I’ll allow you to make that conclusion yourself.
Written by Jamal Asskoumi. All facts and figures from http://www.cie-cnc.ca/health-benefits-from-playing-league-of-legends/
Having only gotten an Xbox and Xbox Live account in the past year, as well as getting more into PC gaming, and having never really played FPS, I’ve never had to endure the world of online multiplayer. I say endure because the first time I attempted it, I downloaded and played a FtP MMORPG that I could only go so far in, independently. Then it was pretty much required that I join up with some other players to attack a dungeon and defeat a boss for the next storyline quest. But I still felt really newb-tastic and having to actually talk to all these impressive warriors running by me on the dusty road was too intimidating. So I stopped playing, relieved that I wouldn’t develop an addiction because I didn’t want to interact with others online.
I should probably dispel any possible misconceptions now; for the most part, I’m not completely anti-social. True, I don’t do much with people, ever, but when I do, I like to believe I’m fairly easy to talk to and relatable. Thankfully I don’t only talk about video games, and I can read social cues to know when to shut up or when to probe further about someone else’s hobby because they want to talk about it. But for some reason, the faceless, nameless judgment of someone else online is something I’d like to avoid at just about all costs.
So I bought Red Dead Redemption and never tried multiplayer, and started Team Fortress 2 and only played bots and tried out League of Legends and only played bots too. And then I bought Mass Effect 3. And to get the “perfect ending” (which I definitely wanted because I’m that anal retentive), I had to play multiplayer. So, expecting the worst, I logged in and started, and loved it! Co-operative team play with others, no friendly fire, this was my kind of multiplayer! I did get a bad player review from someone, and I’m completely unsure why, and it still really bothers me, but that’s obviously indicative of deeper psychological issues I have, ha. (In my defense it’s my only player review so it looks like I’m a really terrible person to play with because 100% of the people that have rated me, hated me).
With a positive multiplayer experience under my belt, I thought I’d finally give a non-bot run-through of TF2 a try, and surprisingly, everyone was nice there as well. It did prove to be more frustrating as I was dominated most of the games by really good players, but slowly my skills improved and I started setting personal bests with Demoman and I felt pretty good.
This all led up to finally trying RDR multiplayer, so I could start getting some of those multiplayer achievements. And the first time I tried it (months ago), I got wasted often, realized that you could actually roll in the game (I got 99.5% completion in the game without realizing that you could roll your character . . . sad), and got a couple of Xbox Live stranger-friends out of a full weekend of multiplayer. I then lent the game to a friend who just got an Xbox and had no money, and just tried multiplayer again for the second time this weekend. And now I’ve seen the true side of multiplayer that I hear about in CoD, Halo, and other games in the same genre.
I may just be in a generally irritable mood, but there were four out of this world good players who I magically never got reshuffled to be on their team (because I acknowledge that I would have been loving it if they were completely annihilating my enemies, instead of me and my teammates), and I got killed by over and over and over again. The last time I played, I recognized that I was generally getting better and better. This time, I spent most of the session re-spawning and watching myself die.
Then, someone on my own team shot me in the head so they could take my cover spot. What the hell is that about! How rude can you be! I tried to withstand the temptation, but a few rounds later, I had an opportunity to just blow this particular player away and I’m sad to say I took the opportunity to “get even,” which the more multiplayer-educated among you are now laughing because there is no “getting even.” The player simply shot me in the head again, a few rounds later. I then sent a choicely worded and explicit message to the player asking them to stop, submitted a bad player review, and quit because I was so frustrated.
The great thing about having a blog that only a few people read is that you don’t feel so bad when you rant and ramble without purpose. I suppose the purpose is venting, and saying that I suppose multiplayer isn’t all bad, but man . . . Red Dead Redemption multiplayer is highly frustrating. And I’m sure there are many people who would read my TF2 description and say “Really!? What server were you on, the rainbows and butterflies server?” So for the sake of my blood pressure and faith in humanity, maybe I’ll just stick with ME3 multiplayer. And it’s good to try different multiplayer experiences out – if only to confirm that I’m more grateful than not that I can’t play most FPS.
Vent your multiplayer frustrations, or share whatever you want about multiplayer. Do you guys hate it or love it? Or you are wiser than I am and realize it’s a mixed bag most of the time?