|On computer gaming as occasional hobby
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
I’m spending some of my pre-maternity annual leave indulging in a pastime I don’t get to very often: computer gaming. I occasionally play something on my phone or tablet (Scrabble, solitaire, crosswords, Angry Birds, Plague Inc) but it’s not the same to me as firing up something on my desktop machine and diving in for a while.
It’s taken me a couple of decades to accept, but I’ve refined a set of pretty clear desirables that keep me from wasting money on new games. I don’t go for console-based games (there are enough electronic gizmos ruling my life, thx), first-person shooters, racing or anything requiring a monthly subscription. I only ever get to play for 2-3 weeks a year if I’m lucky, and I’d rather keep from getting wound up and frustrated by them instead of relaxed, which is the point.
- Single player. I don’t do multiplayer games, let alone MMORPGs. I don’t want to set up times to play games with people I know I like (I spend much of my working life organising things) and the time I tried World of Warcraft, which was very pretty and I liked flying around and fishing and making potions but disliked pretty much everything else, I had exactly one enjoyable interaction with a random person. I recall an old webcomic in which a female character goes into a shop to buy a game, and the (male) sales attendant tries to get her to purchase the latest, shiniest MMORPG which he insists is much better than the single-player game she wants. Eventually she shouts at him, “The last thing I want to do to unwind is interact with other humans!” Yep.
- Vital formulaic elements. These are: Rewards for thorough explorations of areas, puzzles to solve, monsters to kill and treasure to find. I also don’t want anything to be stupidly difficult. I never play above “normal” settings (mostly because to play on the harder ones usually requires practice and/or cheat sheet research, neither of which I have time to indulge in). I like a nice steady pace of leveling up, and finding and using shiny new toys on a regular basis.
- Minions. I may not want human interaction whilst playing games, but I do like to tackle monsters with companions. I tend to prefer ranged classes of attackers rather than tanks.
- Crafts. I like it when there are side pursuits for the characters. (Chocobo-breeding!) Making weapons/armour/potions/gems and collecting materials for these is a fun diversion when I’m bored of building up my character to the next boss fight.
- Pretty. Darkly pretty is even better. There should be time to enjoy exploring and appreciate the pretty, and ways to customise my character so they are pretty too.
- Bite-size. I rarely play for stretches longer than an hour. There are too many other activities I want to mix in, like working, tidying, writing, putzing on the internet, editing photos, etc. The style of play has to be reasonably forgiving. I need to be able to put my character down someplace safe and leave them for undefined lengths of time (er, up to a year) on very little notice.
For those of you who play games, whatever the medium, what do you consider essential to your enjoyment of the experience?
(On a different note: The Seasonal Giving poll for DW account time closes this Friday, 12 December. If you'd like to nominate someone, please do so here.)
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