When World of Warcraft: Cataclysm launched, I was playing. It wasn’t too much longer after that when I was not. And I never really made any sort of formal commitment to leaving, I was just taking a break. It turned out to be a particularly lengthy one; I didn’t return until midway through the long content drought after the last Mists of Pandaria patch. All told, it was around three years, and easily my longest single stretch away from the game.
The funny thing is that it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a break and just leaving and coming back. Sometimes you know full well you’re just stepping away for a while, and then that “while” becomes longer and longer. So what about you, dear readers? What’s the longest break you’ve taken from an MMO? We’re not talking about cases where your break turned permanent, but ones where you left meaning to come back… and it wound up being far longer than you had expected.
One thing that I strive for in my professional career is basing things on sources more robust than my own biases. That’s not to say I believe I can remain entirely dispassionate and objective at all times; it just means that while I might have my biases, I need more than just that bias to say something is good or bad. I may not like gender-locked classes, for example, but if a game with gender-locked classes does well for itself, there’s more going on there and it’s worth examining.
But sometimes you just need to rant about stuff.
Hence, this list. This is not an objective list in any way, shape, or form. These are just things that tick me off about MMOs and have always ticked me off about MMOs, and their absence will often give me a more positive impression of a game no matter how little it may be justified. In the words of George Carlin, I don’t have pet peeves; I have major psychotic [REDACTED] hatreds, and it makes the world a lot easier to sort out.
I’m not actually sure what MMO I’ve played the longest without a single straight-up break. If I haven’t unsubscribed, it’s not really a break. Certainly I haven’t taken a break from Final Fantasy XIV since its relaunch in 2013, but that’s a bit over three years. Was my initial stretch of time in Final Fantasy XI my longest time? My time spent playing World of Warcraft through most of Wrath of the Lich King? I honestly can’t recall. But I do know that I tend to have very long stretches without breaks, and they’re only getting longer as I get older.
Of course, I am not unique in this – I know many other people who haven’t taken a full-on break from games in more than three years. I also know that there are people out there who take a break from a game every three months or so. So what about you, readers? What’s the longest you’ve played a single MMO without breaks? And what’s your personal definition of a break instead of a short hiatus?