The Daily Grind: Have you ever felt the need to cut back on your MMORPG playtime?

A couple of months ago, Lifehacker ran an article that might just save somebody: It’s titled How to Cut Back on Playing Video Games, presuming, of course, that you play so much that you’re finding your real life affected. Lifehacker recommends a bunch of methods for assessing whether you overplay and how to check it, including tracking your game time, picking less time-consuming or addicting games, ditching your hardcore gamer ego, and just watching other people play rather than engaging yourself.

Personally, I figured out I was spending too much time playing MMOs a long time ago when I started literally falling asleep on my keyboard and ultimately decided I liked sleep (and health and money, but honestly, mostly the sleep) better than raiding Sebilis for the hundredth time. I took a break for a while and came back to MMO gaming refreshed and with a new perspective on why I was playing, what I wanted to get out of it, and what I would and wouldn’t do during my precious free time.

Have you ever felt the need to cut back on your MMORPG playtime? How did you go about it, and did it work?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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30 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Have you ever felt the need to cut back on your MMORPG playtime?"

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Malcolm Swoboda

I’m playing SWL a few to several hours a day but once I’m caught up on story for 1-2 characters (3rd Dragon may wait until rather later, and only for story), since I’ll have school, that’ll cut down to 0 to a few hours a day.

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Alex Malone

I am on a break at the moment, have been since feb 2013.

For 6 years I averaged 4 hours gametime a day in MMOs. I knew it was a lot, but I had a good job, still saw friends and met a girlfriend through MMOs. However, a combination of “fear of missing out”, combined with the decline in quality of MMOs and the overall terrible experience of SW:TOR convinced me that perhaps I was spending too much time in MMOs.

So, I quit and went cold turkey. I spent a while analysing what I did and didn’t enjoy in MMOs, examined the underlying mechanics and gave myself a short criteria. I made a promise to myself that I would never commit to another MMO until it met the following criteria:

Deep combat system – if I’m not using my brain when in combat, I’m gonna get bored and quit. A deep combat system necessitates player skill over gear.
Objective-based world pvp – I love fighting over keeps. I love large scale pvp and I like it to have a purpose. This is my absolute favourite activity, so without it I won’t play.
Horizontal Progression – the overwhelming majority of problems I see in MMOs are caused by vertical progression. Horizontal progression is the only viable future for actual MMOs, otherwise we’ll keep running into issues with redundant content / difficulties finding groups / linear progression / gear more important than skill.
Great IP – I have to actually want to spend time in the game! If I don’t like the way the world looks, I’m not going to spend my time there.

As yet, no MMO has met my criteria and the genre is mostly moving away from this way of thinking. Action combat means a deep combat system is not possible. Large scale PvP requires a good engine, something most devs won’t invest in. Horizontal progression, whilst an old idea, has barely been explored so most devs don’t have a clue how to utilise properly, plus RPG players expect vertical progression. Finally, on IPs, this is very subjective. For me personally, I hate the androgynous look of eastern MMOs, but western MMOs generally aim for realistic/gritty (i.e. dull) or get stuck with that generic 80s fantasy look (heres looking at you rift).

Have I noticed any benefits from quitting MMOs? Not really.

I’m poorer – I was spending £8.99 a month on subs, plus expansion fees each year or two. Now, I spend more because single player games last less time in general, plus its hard to find good ones. I don’t spend that much more (steam sales ftw) but probably average £20-£25 a month.

I smoke more – In MMOs I’m a social player: I ran my own guild, led raids and dungeons and pvped a lot. I couldn’t just take a ciggie break whenever I wanted as other people depended on me. Now? Smoke when I want. Combined with the lack of compelling single player games I smoke quite a bit more.

My sleep is unaffected – as I was a group-focused gamer in MMOs, after 10.30/11pm most people would start logging off anyway so I couldn’t do my content. So, I was pretty healthy about logging off to begin with.

I’m less social – sure, I spend more time with friends in real life now compared to before, but when playing MMOs I was being social the entire time. Whilst real life social is better than MMO social, MMO social is better than none at all. Also, I found / created the perfect group of friends online – we were all similar ages (25-35), had similar interests (gaming…), similar jobs (technical or middle management) and we were all quite intelligent. In addition, being a European guild about half the members were from the mainland, not the UK, so I got to hang out with people I never normally would in real life.

The only measurable benefit is I no longer spend time playing something I find frustrating. I always hated the leveling process in MMOs but would do it to reach endgame. I hated some of the gear grinds, or stupid power gaps. But, I’d spend an evening playing a frustrating game in order to get to the good stuff, or just because my friends were doing it. Thats no longer the case. As soon as a game starts becoming frustrating, I quit. I’ve no idea whether there is good stuff still to come, but as I’m playing solo, I can quit whenever I want.

Leontes
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Leontes

It’s more like I felt my (now-ex-)GF needed to cut back on her MMORPG playtime…

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Little Bugbear

No, real life always comes first. Oddly enough I tend to do better in my real life when I play games for a least two hours a day. In high school I started playing WOW my grades went from D’s to A’s. I use games to relax so games don’t tend to negatively affect me.

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Ironweakness

Absolutely, I think it was last year around this time? I had to take a month or two off completely, then I eventually started playing one or two games causally again. I also had to stay away from the Twitters and even Massively OP for a while (sorry!) because every game I read about I would want to play.

I still enjoy this genre quite a lot but I probably only spend a third to half the time playing MMOs than what I was doing before I took a break. I also started exercising around the time I took a two month break and that has helped curb my game sessions as well because sleep is so important for progression in strength training. I can no longer survive on 4-5 hrs. of sleep. I need at least 7-8 so I have enough rested XP for that next training session!

Bobuliss
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Bobuliss

Basically all the time. Let”s see how it goes this time…

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Greaterdivinity

Yes, all the time, both to work on my backlog of non-MMO’s and to do other stuff.

But then I load one up to just do one quick thing and 3 hours later that plan is in ruins and tatters : (

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Jack Pipsam

Only during VCE, but other than that no.

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MesaSage

To the contrary. Just glancing at the news is enough motivation for me to go in to Lotro.

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Oleg Chebeneev

After I played WoW 18 hours a day for years, no breaks, I remember I thought maybe I should go out to see sunlight for a change. But we had a raid that day

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Jeremiah Wagner

Not since WoW was actually fun and GW1 was a thing.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

Different games hook different peeps.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

Not when you play Secret World Legends you don’t, all you feel is how can i squeeze in more time. Running E5’s and Lairs now, I’m certainly not playing the solo story game i started with, this is a whole other game world.
EDIT:
Yes they are hard, very hard but not impossible, just allot more fun.
– Everyone always asks that question.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Will start Elites in Sept :). I want my weapon (well, 2 of them per weapon) skins.

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Hirku

I don’t have to. I live a simple life with zero responsibilities and I play in 1-2 hour bursts with all the other stuff in between. I exercise regularly, nap frequently, and clean house occasionally, so I’m all good.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

Do have a weblog? or wrote about your life style? sound cool to me, it is good to have a simple life :-)

Dantos
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Dantos

cutting back right now. Ive reached the point where im just playing for the sake of not missing out on progression. (stupid TSW:L daily marks and dungeon keys), and not because im actually enjoying what Im doing. Im going to be focusing on cleaning up some of my steam and ps4 backlog until the itch comes back. Sadly Tokyo is tomorrow and I never got around to that in the first version, so my single player jaunt may be short lived.

xpsync
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xpsync

I was at the Tokyo event this morning, was pretty cool.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Funny enough I’d like to increase my gaming time :D In my mind I’d like to play games more than I do. But once I get playing I get restless and can’t stay on for long. Not only that, but every game I do get on, I’m thinking of other games I would and could be playing instead and I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying myself for long.

I end up having to find games where I can do small tidbits of story at once and then get off. The Secret World / Legends actually works for this, as do a number of others. I have a hard time getting into anything that takes more playing time at once. I can’t keep up on any PvP game because I don’t have the time to play to do so. I can log in games a number of different times per day, but only for short amounts of time each time.

I’ve got too many things to take care of off and on during the day to sit down too long so I simply can’t do it. I’m just too impatient a person too with a mind that goes 200 directions at once, it’s so hard to settle down and play for any period of time. I so wish I could though.

Of course, not for the amounts of time people who have serious issues with it do. My body is aching if I can get myself to stay on a game for 2 hours, there are people who play them for 8-16+ hours and I don’t really envy that.

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Veldan

I can relate to this, happens to me too if I try to play a game mid day. I can only really relax and play for a longer time if I do it late in the evening, knowing that I have nothing else that I need to do that day. If I say mid day “ok I’ll take a 30 min break and play a bit” it doesn’t work, and my mind will also go in 200 directions at once.

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Melissa McDonald

My body tells me when. It’s hard for me to sit still for more than an hour at a time anymore.

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Bryan Turner

As long as you get up for a short walk every hour you can stretch and get enough circulation to prevent blood clots or embolism if a clot breaks loose.

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Bryan Turner

Not at all, I purposely never had kids to ensure my time is my own to do with what ever I want.

Zander
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Zander

Never. While life has beautiful things and wonderful ideas, our environmental, political, monetary and religious shortcomings keep my focus deeply entrenched into the cyber world and away from reality.

Reader
rafterman

Back in the EQ days I had a serious addiction. I remember playing for entire weekends without logging out and 12 hour days were the norm for a couple of years. Life actually took care of that… more responsibility, less gaming. These days I’m lucky if I can play 12 hours in a week, so I’m not really concerned with being addicted.

While I don’t see how watching someone else play a game is any better than playing yourself, the rest of it sounds like good advice.

Reader
Rheem Octuris

Playtime? No. Spending…

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squidgod2000

I should…
…but I won’t.

Reader
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Pandalulz

Yes, I’m currently in that position. Normally, when I play an MMO, I will put all of my focus on it, to the detriment of everything else. Right now, I really want to kill off most of my MMO playtime so I can focus on playing single-player stuff, catch up on Netflix shows, etc. But as soon as I tried to put them down, a couple of my buds picked FFXIV back up, and I decided it was a good time to join them.

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Patreon Donor
Veldan

Funny enough, no. When I was playing most of all, I was addicted, and didn’t feel the need to cut back at all. All I wanted to do is play more. That mindset gradually vanished over time, and I started playing less “naturally”. Though I’ll admit that my dislike of the current MMOscape has as much to do with that as me changing and seeing the need to do other things in life.

Minimalistway
Reader
Minimalistway

Well, i put off playing MMOs because i know i’ll get addicted to them, if i like something i focus too much on it, forgetting everything else, and that exactly what happened in the first week, which ended with me being so tired i can’t focus, you can’t win over nature, sleep is a debt you’re going to pay soon or later.

Anyway, the magic of first time gone, trying any new MMO will never be like trying the first MMO, so there is no first time passion again, that is my cure :-)

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