One of the most useful pieces of advice that I’ve gotten regarding making decisions for the future is also the simplest: Imagine yourself taking the action and then imagine the consequences. Put yourself in the shoes of the version of you that took this action. Imagine what it feels like. But there’s a trick to this particular piece of advice because it requires you to imagine what the results of this action will be and then not being a goddamn moron in spite of it.
Losing sleep – which is vital to my continued well-being – is something that I am apparently very willing to do on the regular, despite knowing that it will have a detrimental effect upon me in a variety of fashions, usually in the name of goals that I could pursue without losing sleep. So I have assembled a somewhat definitive guide of the many, many times I have foregone sleep for various reasons directly related to MMOs, and I have come to the conclusion that I should probably just give up on sleeping. I’m an insomniac anyhow; it comes naturally.
1. Continuing a good experience party (Final Fantasy XI)
Look, the thing about Final Fantasy XI was that especially if you played a damage dealer (we didn’t call it “DPS” in those days). you were never assured of a party. I played on a dial-up connection, which meant I could use it only after a certain time of night, and I did not have much flexibility. If I actually got into a party where the experience was flowing well and I was leveling? Screw sleep; my Dragoon might actually get three levels today.
It’d be nice to pretend that these parties were fun experiences filled with fun people. Let’s pretend together.
2. Camping a Notorious Monster (FFXI)
Of course, sometimes it wasn’t all fun and games. Yes, even less fun and games than “oh wow, I actually got a party invite, maybe I’ll get some experience!” No, sometimes you had to sit there and wait for a notorious monster to spawn because it’ll be sometime in this hour, and there are four other people here (only four because the item it drops can no longer be resold, so you don’t have to fight gil sellers), and you’re all going to mash macros in hopes of claiming it, and you’re tired but come on, Valkurm Emperor!
It was all worth it when you pulled it and got claim, though, and you fought it, and then it didn’t drop anything so you’d have to do it all over again.
Why did I play this game?
3. Midnight expansion releases (World of Warcraft)
These were so stupid. My wife and I had the next couple of days off from work because we had taken them, and we tried to sleep early to be ready for midnight, and we stockpiled energy drinks, and we went out to wait in the freezing cold outside of a GameStop for World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade and we were tired and chilly and anxious, and then we got our copies and rushed home and installed and played until we literally had to nap for a couple of hours.
This was so stupid but it’s such a warm, happy memory for me. It’s like those times in college where you stayed up having heartfelt conversations with people who felt so important to you at the time. Yeah, it probably wasn’t necessary or helpful, but at the end of the day it makes you happy and you look back and smile even as you acknowledge it was kind of silly.
4. Raiding (WoW)
And this would be the opposite side, remembering days when I had already had to get up crazy early for a work thing, and I came home and had raid night, and the entire raid was depending on my DPS because I was the best in the guild, and I felt awful because I had a virus anyway, and I was begging the healer to learn how to dodge a predictable pattern. I was exhausted and not having fun, and quitting was a good thing.
5. Getting a house (Final Fantasy XIV)
They don’t call it Housing EX for nothing. Before the lottery system, with all its attendant issues, getting a house was a matter of logging in as soon as possible for the land rush and hoping you beat everybody else to the plot that you wanted. And I’ve done it. Multiple times. Not just “woke up early for it” (which is also true) but “beat people to the plot I wanted successfully.” Go me.
6. Getting a single set of additional tribal quests before the reset (FFXIV)
Of course, I will also wake up early because of how maintenance works for the game and how you can get one additional set of three tribal quests right before the reset so you can be further ahead than other players by one whole day in content that has no power rewards and is purely a matter of “you can unlock this mount you’re probably not going to use after a week before other people do so.”
Did I mention that I am a goddamn moron?
7. Trying to get a very specific coat (Star Wars: The Old Republic)
I loved moddable armor in Star Wars: The Old Republic. And there was a moddable coat that had previously been available only to Imperial Agents, but during the Eternal Empire expansions there was a way to get it on my Jedi Sentinel, and so I had a goal. And I figured out what I needed to do to get a shot at it, and I did it, and I did it over and over, running the same content long past the point where it stopped being fun because I needed that coat.
And I got it! And that made me happy. It didn’t make up for a number of other problems that ultimately drove me from the game after that, but to me, the important thing was I got the coat I wanted. So there.
8. Roleplaying (oh so many games)
The amount of sleep I have given up because my characters were reaching a very important point in their personal stories that meant I needed to see this scene through is substantial. Especially if you expand “reaching a very important point in their personal stories” to include “flirting with the cute boy behind the bar tonight.”
9. Taking a last look (City of Heroes)
I’ve never really talked about what I was doing when City of Heroes was shutting down. I wrote columns as it was happening, but I didn’t talk about what I was actually doing because leveling felt pointless. But I loved this game. I would super jump around neighborhoods, taking screenshots and just touring the area, remembering great times, crying a little, feeling frustrated, wondering if I was ever going to be that associated with a game ever again. Thinking of experiences in my professional career. People I met. Chats I had. Fun experiences all across the board.
Especially as the deadline approached, I remember going to more difficult areas and seeing them empty, and it felt so horrible. It felt like the death of heroes. It felt like the criminals really were taking the streets back, and I charged into at least a few fights that were harder than they should be like it made a difference, like that was really what happened. It was sad, and it hurt, and I knew I was saying goodbye forever. And that was worth some lost sleep, yeah.
10. Just having fun (so… many… games…)
And, you know… a lot of the times I stayed up late and kept playing because I was just really having a good time. I don’t remember what I was doing. Farming items, talking with people, jumping around, planning out outfits. Little bits of sleep here and there, sacrificed because I was enjoying myself and I’ll take being a half-hour more tired in the morning in exchange for getting the boots that match my outfit just right.
Sure, in the morning I’m tired. But that’s a morning problem and right now I’m staying up late.