Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Falling off the Community Bandwagon

OK. I knew this was going to happen. I got busy with other things and stopped posting. Or maybe I just had writers block. But Kaozz had a recent post that inspired me, because it connects with my own behavior in MMOs (and blogging too). I am a lurker. I like to observe a community, be it gaming guild chat or Blaugust Discord chat, but I very rarely enter into the conversation. I also rarely group even when grouping is pretty darn easy and incentivize.

Why? Well, the most obvious is that I am an introvert. I am a manager at work and that means a lot of time in meetings and on the phone with people all day long. I have no problem dealing with people, but I find socialization draining after a day at work. I also have a very social family life, so games are actually a refuge where I can have some “just me” time.

The second reason I don’t communicate more is that, even at my age, I can still feel insecure when talking to people I don’t know, especially in a group setting. This manifests in several ways. I communicate better in writing, but when in group settings I end up talking too much. I am probably overcompensating and feeling like I am obligated to contribute to a conversation even if I don’t have much to say. Generally, I avoid voice chat like the plague in games. I find most texting to be okay for exchanging quick bits of information, but not for actually getting to know people. Truth to tell, it’s been a long time since I “friended” someone outside my family in a game, although I still join guilds for the purpose of trading goods, guild hall facilities or other amenities. I do send donations to the guild, but don’t do many guild events.

An then there is my desire to set my own pace. Grouping is very frenetic these days at least for pick up groups. Everyone rushes through the content and it’s hard to pay any attention to any story or ambiance when you are running after your groupmates. Way back in the original EverQuest, groups would set up “camps” where a particular boss would spawn, sometimes with long waits between. Sometimes the group would talk while waiting. Waiting is anathema these days and has been eliminated from games, for better or worse. I am pretty sure that even I would no longer enjoy that slower pace in gaming.

Finally, there is just shear laziness. It’s just more complicated if I have to consider other people’s needs or respond to conversations. I probably could find a deeper enjoyment if I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, opened up and got involved. Some people out there can be really cool. Maybe someday.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Goal Horizon

There have been several posts lately about August gaming goals. Goals give gaming or life in general a structure that can be appealing especially to achievement oriented types like me. But goals serve different purposes depending on the span of time being considered. At the bottom of this post are my August gaming goals and some screenshots of the game areas under consideration in ESO and Sims 3 (Sims 4 never caught on with me).

My daily goals tend to be mood and time driven. How much time to I have today and what activity/character/game fits my mood? Weekly goals are frequently driven by opportunities. Is there an event going on? When night can my husband and I team up. Monthly goals are more achievement driven. At the end of the year, there is another spate of yearly reviews and resolutions. What game should I focus on this year? Is there anything new and exciting?

The most interesting and hardest goals to set are the long term goals not often considered in games or life. Where do I want to be 5 years from now?

  • Get through Cadwell's Silver quest, i.e. complete second faction on one character.
  • Play Wrothgar during Orsinium event
  • Complete Clockwork City questline and zone

Sims 3
  • Get the Elvish legacy family to generation 3 in the Monte Vista neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Being There

One of the reasons I enjoy ESO is the high quality storylines and the voice acting. The story pulls me into the world and makes the quests more than ticking off objectives. However, I have a few bad habits in my gaming that interfere with my immersion in the game world.

First, previous games I played had poorly written quests with no voice. I started clicking through the quest text, so I could to get back into the world and accomplish the objectives. Many gamers vow to read all of the text, but when I tried to slow down and do that, the writing was so dull I gave it up as a waste of my time. ESO isn’t like that. If I listen, the characters dilemmas and needs are compelling and there are multiple storylines that interact with each other. There are choices in some quest that do affect the world, but not the overall direction of the story. Nevertheless, it is worth slowing down and experiencing the game more fully in ESO.

Second, many games have annoying sounds either bad music or oppressive ambient sounds and no voice acting. I started muting the game and only using the visuals and text. When I was playing No Man’s Sky the other day, it had ambient noises that really got on my nerves. Further, even when the game sounds don’t annoy me, they annoyed my husband who is on his own computer next to me. We solved that with headsets, but that keeps us more separated than I would like. ESO generally does not rely on music to set the tone of an area and the ambient noises are appropriate and not irritating even in those zones like Coldharbour that are visually oppressive, so I play with the sound on, so that I do not miss the voices that make the story more compelling than just reading the text.

Third, since my sound was sometimes turned off, I began listening to other things, mainly audiobooks and streaming video. This split attention between two activities can help me quickly through boring or slightly unpleasant activities such as housework. In games, crafting grinds and dailies also fell into this category.  I have two computer screens, so watching a movie or TV show on one screen while playing a game on the other is easy. But if there are voices happening in both screen, I can only pay attention to one of them at best, and more likely, I can’t understand what is going on in either screen. It’s gotten to be ridiculous, but I think it is a symptom of trying (and largely failing) to multitask.

Modern U.S social structure values “efficiency” and “productivity”. Further, our culture has become more and more ADD with shorter and shorter attention spans for any particular subject. I remember when MTV and music videos began and thinking how quickly the images flew by. Now all video formats are like that. How long does a camera stay with any one point of view in most movies or TV shows. Games are like this too, emphasizing short, quick tasks in most cases which is part of why combat is such a central part of most games. MMOs and some single player RPGs go against this trend with longer story format and that is part of why I enjoy them.

To get the most out of an MMO story and world, I need to be a little more patient and focused and stop multitasking. Balancing quality and quantity is a good life lesson.