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.

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