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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