Guild Chat: The best way to deal with MMO burnout

Welcome along to another advice-filled edition of Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively OP commenters can help solve the guild drama of their fellow readers while also reading my take on the scenario at hand. This time, reader B is wondering how best to deal with burnout and the usual peer pressure to keep playing his MMO of choice. While he used to absolutely enjoy playing and has not needed to take a break before, recently B has been reluctant to log in and the daily grind is becoming more of a chore than a hobby, To complicate matters, B fills a vital role in the content his guild plays and is worried that taking a break — or perhaps leaving the game entirely — will mean his friends have to stop playing too.

Read below for B’s full submission and my response to his situation below, and don’t forget to leave him your personal advice in the comments section.

“I find logging in a chore and it wasn’t always this way. I think I’m burnt out on my favourite MMO and I want to shelf it for a while, but I have my guildmates to think about, so I log in anyway. I’m just bored to death right now, and I get no actual enjoyment out of playing. While I’m not a guild leader or anything, I know for a fact that my guild would struggle without me because of the specialised role I fill in our game, which puts me off leaving and keeps me logging in for one more day every day, Where does this end though when I don’t want to play right now? I just never feel like it’s a good time to go.”

This is an excellent question, B, and you’ll be pleased to know that it’s one that has a very simple answer! No matter how specialised your role or how close you are to your guildmates, you must keep in mind the context of your gaming: Remember that gaming is a leisure activity and in the vast majority of cases, if it ceases to be fun then it’s time to switch something up. You’re far from the first MMO fan to face burnout, either, so although it’s always difficult to take leave when you feel as though other people rely on you, I always think it’s best to act on your urge to take a break and put some enjoyment back into your gaming time.

Having said that, I realise that this is much easier said than done in such socially involved games, so I’ll give you my best pointers below, hoping that you’ll soon be feeling much better about dealing with your burnout. Good luck and happy gaming!

MMOs are designed to keep you playing

MMOs are cultivated to keep players locked in for a prolonged period of time because it is through this engagement that a studio floats future development. I’ve written in MMO Mechanics about barriers to exit in MMOs, but this is possibly more easily observed in the recent lockbox kickup where development teams use the mechanic so heavily because microtransactions are funding development more successfully than expansions. No matter where you witness the developer’s desire to keep players playing, the fact remains that you feel guilty about leaving at least in part because MMOs are designed to make you feel that way.

In the case of your chosen MMO, the role you fill is important to other people who also have a desire to enjoy their gaming time, which is what makes your decision a difficult one to follow through with. I want you to reconsider the problem and, rather than placing yourself in the firing line for blame, reevaluate whether or not the developers have actually engineered the content you enjoy to make each team member indispensable to one another in order to keep them playing. Does the pressure genuinely come from your guild, then, or is it pressure from the very nature of the game?
This is fine.

Feeling irreplaceable is an illusion that you don’t have to buy into

I want you to carefully consider something else: Unless your particular guild is highly specialised and has sought world firsts or something equally epic, chances are you aren’t as irreplaceable as you think, B. I don’t mean that to sound as harsh as it no doubt does, but being realistic about just how many other people are running and succeeding at the same game content we are puts it into perspective. Guilds rise and fall perpetually, and even games with diminishing communities will have a steady stream of talented players who are looking for a guild in which to enjoy group content, so I want you to realise that feeling guilty about leaving because of the role you feel isn’t something you need to do.

If you’re very concerned, you can phase out of the guild gradually or you can perhaps help train a newbie to fill your position in whatever content it is you clear. I want to make myself crystal clear: What you should never feel the need to do is keep spending your precious free time and energy on an activity you’re not enjoying. This should never be an “if” but rather a “when,” especially since true burnout can have much longer lasting ill effects than simply thanking the guild for everything and taking the time you need away from the game.

Deal with the burnout before your crash out in glorious fashion

I’ve just mentioned that burnout can impact on more than just your personal enjoyment of the game if it is ignored, but what do I actually mean by that? Well, it turns out that when people are forced into situations they don’t wish to be in, there are psychological cues that happen in our brains that make us become less than a pleasure to cope with in daily life too. If you’re not benefiting actively from leisure time, this will have an impact on your mood throughout the working week and make you more prone to suffering from stress and its plethora of symptoms. Your mental health can certainly decline because you don’t get the contented buzz you need to truly wind down and the leisure time quickly becomes an extension of work time.

If you don’t take action when you begin to feel that the game is a chore and you need a break, you’re leaving yourself open to letting your guild down in even more dramatic fashion: Chances are you’ll rage quit or do or say something in anger that makes you unwelcome to return to the guild again, and it sounds as though that’s not what you’re seeking at all. Take a break on your own terms and you can return when (and if) you feel refreshed: Push yourself to the point of snapping and you’ll burn those bridges you’re trying so hard to protect.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I’ve taken breaks from certain MMOs that have spanned anything from a few days right up to several years: My tastes change or the amount of leisure time I have varies and something has to give, and I try to make sure it isn’t my happiness. One thing I have noted, however, is how true it is that I never truly quit any MMO; I always have the urge to return at some point in time. Taking time away from a particular game gives me the distance needed to actually appreciate why I found it so compelling in the first place, and that often is enough of an incentive for me to play again when I feel ready and attempt to reignite that spark.

Sure, leaving a guild behind can be tricky and goodbyes are never easy, but most people aren’t so two-dimensional that they play only one game for years on end. Chances are you will have the opportunity to game with some or all of your guildmates in another game that you all enjoy. The friendships you have might have been forged in one particular game but they exist between two real people outside of the gamespace and can be taken anywhere with you, so don’t let that wonderful community become a burden.

Over to you!

I do hope you take a clearly much-needed break, B: Even the most MMO-obsessed people I know have shelved the odd game or two when the fun factor becomes glaring absent. I’m sure if I polled the MOP staff that every one of us has quit a game that lost its appeal and felt like a chore to play all of a sudden, so I hope you know that you’re not alone in feeling this way.

What do you think, readers? Do you agree with me that B should absolutely take a break, or have you a special strategy that reduces burnout without stepping away from the game? Let B know in the comments below.

Many thanks to B for this edition’s submission. If you have a guild-related issue that needs solving, email me your submission for consideration.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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28 Comments on "Guild Chat: The best way to deal with MMO burnout"

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syberghost

Play a single player game for a while. I beat XCOM-2 earlier this year because I was taking a break from MMOs.

Unfortunately when I came back it was to Marvel Heroes. :(

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Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

My method for MMO burnout has been the same since day dot and that is this.
Firstly I have typically three games on the go. One Fantasy, One Sci Fi and one other. When I burnout on one, I swtch to another. The change in genre helps releive burnout. Secondly I play many alts, sometimes burnout can be aleviated from something as simple as a class change and change of scenery. And Thirdly I play non MMO’s so when burnout is truly bad I play some singleplayer or offline games for a change for a week or two.

Alyn
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Alyn


Nice article Tina!
I’m not sure there is a full-proof way to cure, totally, the effects of mmo boredom and doldrums. However, a good group of friends and guild mates often can help to some degree.
I often actually push away from my computer to enjoy the real world when these feelings begin to take hold.
I try and have hobbies or real-time interests other than the web or computer games. It’s an intellectual aid for my boredom. For me at least, there are always other aspects of life I enmjoy at least as much as gaming.
Another way to walk away from the frustration of a game that gets “long-in-the-tooth” is try other games. I try RPG’s or even other MMO’s from time to time for a fresh perspective from a different point of view. However, I evntually return to my guild and responsibilities as guild leader. I have always told my in-game friends that I log into the game not for gear drops, but for the companionship and company.

That’s me I suppose. Cheers all!
Alyn

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Rick Mills

For me it was the fear of getting left behind – in gear and progression – that kept me playing to the point of burnout. At some point you realize, as mentioned in your article Tina, that it’s all about what the devs do to keep you playing.
You just have to remember that they also provide catch-up mechanisms to bring you back :)

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Rafael Pereira

I currently got burned on WoW Legion, after one year playing every day and bouncing around some guilds. I was doing mythic raiding and some day after a raid that gone bad the guild leader started raging on everyone and telling how we should be grinding more ap, more dungeons, more everything. That was the last straw and I simply left a message stating my leave and since then I’ve been playing single players games and casually doing my stuff on GW2 and ESO.
Getting bored and keep playing no matter why (for guild, friends or whatever) only rob the fun of gaming honestly.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

We lost our power and in turn Internet (and couldn’t even leave the house because of downed trees and power lines) for over a week recently. We did get a generator going for some limited power, though there was still no Internet that entire time. At first it seemed it was torture and I had all these dreaded longings and worries about not getting online. It felt terrible. By the next week however, I felt refreshed and great to not be online. I was already appreciating other little things more, though I was also quite bored a lot of the time (we didn’t have TV or anything else to pass the time, my PC draws too much power and burns through the generator gas without really being a necessity).

I was almost disappointed when the Internet came back because I know with access I’m going to spend my free time online and things would get back to the same old doing 5 different things at once hectic time I usually have.

The break was awesome, but I never would have taken it voluntarily.

It was refreshing for sure, but I was worried about some games I subscribe on that give daily gifts. They really know how to keep getting us to stop by daily :D

So I got a forced refresher from burnout that was really nice and I wish I could have changed my life to not be online as often permanently, but once access is back here I am again.

Not too long ago I changed most of my personal stuff to actually be personal and not open to the entire world but just actual real life friends, and since then online people are constantly questioning me about it and treating me like a freak for doing so. I guess that’s another matter and topic. I just was thinking about it because it was doing something to lessen the grip that the Internet has on me, and after a great many Internet addicts acted like I was doing something very weird and even selfish just because I wanted to stop sharing my life with Internet strangers.

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brin11

Absence makes the heart grow fonder unless the game you were playing was Revelation Online. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

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Loyal Patron
Armsbend

For me I try the thing I said I was never interested in. Beit crafting, or pvp, or collecting or exploring or hardcore raiding or whatever. And if I still don’t feel interested I move on and find a novel or manual to read.

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Dystopiq

Stop playing cold turkey. That’s what I do.

Reader
rafael12104

Welp, Tina has you covered, B. Once again, like grandmothers night shirt, she covered it all.

My sage advice, and it’s only sage in that I’ve been there as a GM no less, is once you decide to take your break, take the break. No logging in just to say hello, not even for a minute. Don’t try and keep up with guild current events. Don’t even go to the forums.

Take a real break for however long you deem necessary. Month? 3 months? Whatever.

Time heals all wounds and all that jazz. Why? Because it works and jazz is a relaxing pursuit