Maybe you guys can help me out on this one. I have struggled explaining this to people for over a decade.
I do not like repetitive tasks. I don’t like doing the same thing over and over in a game… or do I? I can’t tell if I’m contradicting myself or misclassifying one of these groups.
The types of repetitive tasks I do not like:
The types of repetitive tasks I’m fine with or actually enjoy:
Why do some of these seemingly mundane tasks bring me joy, and some of them bore me out of my mind?
Is it the game influencing which repetition I’m okay with and which kind I’m not? As I said, I don’t mind grinding the same mobs over and over in EverQuest. I have memories — even from a year ago — of sitting in camps of mobs for hours killing the same 20 goblins over and over. I have memories (again from just this past year or two) sitting in the same room of Unrest for days.
Why are those okay, but the very thought of grinding mobs (like the type of grinding in the Asian grinder model) or grinding daily quests is enough to make me physically ill? Again, I ask if it’s the game because I wonder if there’s a bigger picture that I allow myself to fixate on and ignore what’s happening in the here and now.
Is it the complexity of gameplay? Lots of Asian grinders are all about shallow combat. EQ was a little more complicated. Daily quests are mindless but camping a dungeon in EQ could be less so? I’m not sold on that one.
Solving this mystery may be the key to unlocking the future of MMORPGs.
What type of gamer am I? The kind who doesn’t like repetitive tasks in some games, but in others, who can’t figure out why that’s the case. Help!
This one is really simple. I really, really like making things in games. I say “making things” because it extends beyond just crafting and tradeskills. I really like building bases and forts. I like making machines that work and accomplish tasks. I like making characters. I like making factories and assembly lines. I like making things come to life when given the freedom and my own imagination.
Minecraft, Dragon Quest Builders, Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, Albion Online, etc. (there are many more), all share the common trait of giving me the freedom to ‘make things’ the way I personally want to make them.
Here are a few examples of these mechanisms and why I like them.
I like a crafting system with freedom. In order to satisfy the requirements, I have to be able to leave my mark on whatever I create. In SWG this was great because I chose the materials, their quality, and how I would experiment on the item. The result was two people could make the same set of armor but have it be entirely different. Certain people were sought after for having the best type of X armor.
This one ties in closely with crafting. When it comes to “making things,” I like to say money counts too. I like making money in games! I suck at making money in modern games because it has become tied up in the combat side of things. UO was great for me because I could choose to be a store owner. I found a piece of property in a great location, crafted weapons, and made money selling them to the people who would fight each other practically on my doorstep.
Block by Block
I love being able to take apart the world and put it back together. I love combining items into things which can then be combined with freedom to make something else unique. Space Engineers and Minecraft are two of the best examples of this. I also like Astroneer and Subnautica for this same type of “make my own stuff” adventure.
Making things in video games brings me joy. I was one the kid who had buckets and buckets of mixed up LEGOS and make something new out of them every day. I’ve never been great at making a masterpiece, but I can safely say I don’t have to be. It’s not about WHAT I make, but the process and going through the act of making things that simply find fun.
I go back and forth on PvP. Some of the best games (mostly MMOs) I’ve played were all about player-versus-player interaction.
I like there being PvP when it makes sense (to me). I like fighting for my realm. I like fighting for territory and seizing objectives. I don’t like ganking. I don’t like PvP when it’s just about fighting and beating the other player; I want it to be about beating the other side.
Games with ganking draw a type of player that I do not enjoy being around. I don’t want to generalize too far, but for the most part — based on my personal experience — the type of people who thrive on the ganking type of PvP are also the type of people with obnoxious personalities hellbent on ruining my fun.
Going back to my preference for social gameplay, I like playing with a team. I like having an army of players all attacking a castle together. Maybe it’s because a group of players means each player isn’t as accountable. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an awesome PvPer. I’m not sure that I ever was. But when I play with others I feel like I do a decent job contributing. Maybe that’s an important part: I like filling a role in PvP rather than just being there to kill players 1v1 or in a tiny group.
In fact, let’s take this all a step further. I would rather there be no PvP at all over the open-world gank anyone you want style of play.
What type of gamer am I? I’m a bit of a carebear.
I’m not competitive. At least that’s what I have to keep telling myself, then do whatever it takes to avoid placing myself into competitive scenarios.
By nature, I tend toward wanting to be competitive when there’s a score being kept or metrics being measured. Every time that happens, I notice my fun plummets into oblivion. Whether it’s seeing who has the highest damage on the meters, the best gear, the best loot, the best design, etc., etc., I have to avoid it.
When competition kicks in, I stop playing the game and I start playing the numbers. When I start playing the numbers, I get burned out/frustrated/bored and I quit. There are so many examples that I could go through, and each of these ruin(ed) my fun. Here are a few:
Keeping score in FPS games
People notoriously look at k/d ratios or even just overall kills. Games like Call of Duty and Overwatch track these and make people hyper competitive. Even among friends it’s all about how many kills you get. I would rather focus on “did we win?” If the answer is yes, then we won as a team.
But it’s never good enough. It goes back to personal performance rather than team performance. That ruins my fun because despite trying or wanting to focus on the team, I feel forced to look at my own performance.
Topping DPS Charts or Parses
This one aggravates me to no end, and it’s a big reason I often get discouraged with WoW. It’s not unique to my current guild or raiding experience, so if you’re reading this and you’re wondering if I’m talking about you then the answers is yes and no. This has existed for a decade.
Let’s say we kill a boss. That’s awesome. I feel on top of the world. Then we look at DPS charts and parses and it’s a big display of “I got 95% percentile” and “oh you only got 10th percentile.” Or it’s an on-going live competition to see who can top the DPS charts. Sad thing is there will always be a last place. This is one of those situations where captain Picard would tell you, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.”
Having the Best of Something
This one is broad and applicable to so many games. I’ve even had it happen with friends in Minecraft. “How many diamonds do you have? 20? Oh man I have like 50 you must be doing something wrong.” Yes, that actually happened. I suddenly feel the need to get more diamonds. I shouldn’t but I do.
And in MMORPGs it’s designed into the game to get people to want to compare themselves to each other. It’s a mechanism used to keep people playing more. “I have to get better than Joe! I have to get a better loot drop!” I have friends — you know who you are — who thrive on being the one in the lead of everything. If I compare myself to these people, I feel unjustifiably inadequate. It shouldn’t bother me, but it starts to.
Being Expected to Always Win
This is one that kills my enjoyment in games like DOTA and even FPS games. It’s the idea that we always have to win and be perfect. You didn’t capitalize on every opportunity you had to win? How dare you! You suck! Quit the game! Quit life! You’re a loser! That’s the TAME side of how competitive people get in games like Overwatch, DOTA, and League. I understand that to some people their idea of having fun means they need to win, but their right to fun ends where mine begins, and treating people like crap isn’t acceptable. So I often avoid those games (unless feeling up to the task) to avoid those types of people.
I have to distance myself from the competition and focus on the game. Did we kill the boss? Yes. Was it easy? Yes. Did I top the parses or charts? No. Did that ultimately matter? Not at all. I still had a REALLY good time killing that boss. Therefore I should not feel as though I want or need to compete with others on how well I did personally.
In FPS games I can play as a sniper and not have the k/d ratio of someone running around with a SMG. They’ll advance faster up the ranks. They’ll unlock more guns that I may never, ever see. Did I enjoy playing a sniper? Yes. Would I enjoy playing a run-and-gun SMG spammer? No. Therefore, it shouldn’t matter. I had fun playing the game.
Telling myself I’m not the best helps. Realizing I never will be is pretty easy. Being okay with that, and not trying to be is the challenge.
It’s a constant struggle for me, and one I will always deal with. It’s personal, and it influences how much or little I enjoy the games I play.
What type of gamer am I? One who MUST avoid competition for the sake of my own enjoyment.
When it comes to games, I’m a social butterfly. That may be in part because I tend toward the other side of the spectrum in real life. I like games more, and stick with them longer, when there are strong elements of community and ‘playing together’.
Beyond a sense of belonging, I like ‘feeling’ that sense of other people playing alongside me. My experience is validated when I know that others are investing time too. When I know there are others participating in the game I feel as though what I do somehow matters more because it somehow integrates with their experience, and vice versa.
A good example of this is Ultima Online. I could dig in a mine all day and gather ore. I could build a house out in the wilds. I could kill the hard monsters and amass loot. But what does that matter if there’s no one else around? There’s a connection there for me that somehow makes it all more real. We’re all working towards making that experience real. That input from them is a missing link that magically binds all of the gameplay mechanics together into a living, breathing, cohesive world.
I feel the same in games like Minecraft. I can make a magnificent monster spawner or automatic wheat farm, but if no one is there to see me do it — or preferably help me since I love co-building things — then it all seems like I’m just doing it for myself. The magic dies once the creation is finished or once I provide to myself I can do it. However, if someone else watches or helps me make something then I feel this urge to do it again and again.
I love teamwork. I love working with others to overcome obstacles. I thrive on the energy of minds coming together to combine ideas and create strategies. Sieging a castle in Dark Age of Camelot with a bunch of bots would not have been the same as doing it with 300 real players all thinking independently.
In MMORPGs, I like getting to know people. I like conversations. Some of the most fun I have ever had in a game was grouping in EverQuest in a dangerous area with a group. We would hunker down in a room or on a hillside and sit close together. Once the group was secure, we would pull monsters for hours and just shoot the breeze. Some of those relationships grew so strong that we would group again and even form guilds. Relationships opened new opportunities. Relationships and socializing were almost like unwritten or unprogrammed skills your character needed to advance. It was an element of gameplay no designer could possible account for, and it made the game 10x better.
Not all games have to be multiplayer or have social gameplay, but as a gamer I know that I thrive on and enjoy games more with others. I also know that I enjoy games most when the game itself is designed to encourage and promote players to experience the games together.