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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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.

Ironweakness
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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