We've all had it happen at one point or another -- a game you're obsessed with for weeks or months suddenly starts to become boring, even tiresome. Chalk it up to over-familiarity, the need for variety, diminishing returns on your time; whatever it is, there's usually a point where grinding it out for those last few bits of content starts to seem more tedious than fun.
There's been some interesting discussion recently on this issue recently, specifically how it applies in massively multiplayer games like World of Warcraft
. On one side you have this post
by Tom Coates [via Wonderland
], who is a little disillusioned now that his WoW
character has reached level 60. Coates finds exploring new dungeons now to be "laborious and slow" but, paradoxically, he still finds he can't put the game down. The experience has made Tom question his preconceptions about game design and look to Raph Koster's Theory of Fun
for some sort of explanation.
On the other side, Liz Lawley on Terra Nova has an excellent post
on why she actually craves the mindless tedium of the World of Warcraft
grind. For Lawley, the grind provides a way to "relax, to clear my mind, to do something repetitive that provides visible ... and lasting evidence of my efforts." For Lawley, it's not the status of the bigger sword, but the actual process of earning that sword that provides the fun.
The issue is even further complicated by people who makes their living playing games. Julian Dibbell quit his job as a writer to devote his time becoming an item trader in Ultima Online
. The chronicle of his experience -- both in his blog
and a book
-- reveals a slow transition from playing a game for simple amusement to a point where "the line between gameplay and career, between gameworld and society, begins to blur." After grinding out a living at it for months, Dibbell is now back to writing, which I guess shows how compelling the experience was for him.
Perhaps the best analysis of the love/hate relationship between gamer and game comes from Paul at Aeropause, who writes in an innuendo-filled post
that he's breaking up with World of Warcraft
. Sure it's tongue-in-cheek, but it also captures the process of moving on from a gaming obsession pretty well:
"You'll always have a place in my heart, but ... it just won't be the same as it was back in the beginning."Read
-- Tom Coates on the nature of funRead
-- Liz Lawley in praise of the grindRead
-- Julian Dibbells Play Money blogRead
-- Josh breaks up with WoW