The half-hour gamer

One of the reasons that I’m happy to be an MMO gamer in 2012 versus an earlier era is that my time has become extremely precious to me, and happily, most MMOs have changed to accommodate shorter gaming sessions.  It’s one way that MMOs have come into alignment with the rest of the video game industry, allowing us to play in both burst and marathon modes.

So not only do I have less time these days (and, come this September, baby #3 will probably eat into that a little more), but I’m enraptured by a wide range of titles.  The days of playing just one MMO are fading fast in the rearview mirror, and I’m constantly enticed by other titles when other players, bloggers, and friends talk about them.  What to do?

I’ve actually adapted something from my work day into my gaming day, which is to divide my time into 30-minute segments and allow those segments to structure my gaming time.  I know that my personality is such that I can get sidetracked by a single project for a long time while ignoring others, so at work I start the day by saying “From 9 to 9:30, I’ll do X, then from 9:30 to 10:00 I’ll do Y” and so on.  I end up being way more productive and don’t feel as overwhelmed.

Unless I’m looking to join in with groups or do longer content (say, dungeons), this applies terrifically to the MMO juggler.  Most nights I give each MMO under my wing a half-hour (sometimes a little more) of play before rotating to the next one, and it’s actually been a lot of fun.  Okay, sure, I don’t make huge amounts of progress in any one game in an evening, but a half-hour is a few quests at least — and those add up over the span of a week.  In Star Trek Online, it’s a good story mission.  In LOTRO, it’s a quest hub.  In SWTOR, it’s the next leg of my character story.  In Fallen Earth, it’s some crafting and exploration.

I guess it comes down to the drive to get to the endgame versus appreciating the journey and being okay with taking one’s time walking the road.  Sure, sometimes it’s a little jarring to shift every half-hour or so to a different game, especially if I was really getting into my groove, but I adapt quickly enough.  It’s also helpful to take notes on what goals I’m actively working towards in each game so that I don’t have to spend the first ten minutes trying to remember what I was doing last time and what I need to do now.

Not every night is divided up like this, either.  Sometimes I give myself permission just to focus on a single game if I’m feeling the urge to do so.  But more often than not, the revolving method comes into play, and it sort of feels more natural to do so — it’s how I used to play console games, swapping cartridges every so often during longer sessions.  Time should bow to the player, not the other way around, right?

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4 thoughts on “The half-hour gamer

  1. I just started something like this not long ago myself. My way of playing games was to play the heck out of a game until I got bored with it, then go onto another game that I was craving to play again. When I would go back to a game I played previously I would be overwhelmed with having to relearn a character, and so most times just started a new one. This really was inefficient. I have only achieved level 30 or so in LotRO, haven’t made any real progress in GW, and have seen starting areas more times than I would care to admit. So I came up with a similar switching system.

    Essentially, my system is this: If one night I play one game, the next night I have to play something different. So, for example, last night I played DDO. Tonight, I will play anything but DDO, so I will probably play STO, then tomorrow I can play DDO or another game, but not STO. I have been using this system for about a month or two, and am so far finding it very successful. By switching games, the characters, abilities, and stories still remain fresh and jumping back and forth has no re-learning curve. I have also been making more progress in every game than I have ever made in the past. Also, I get to remain active in guilds, so there is no remorse from leaving a group of good people. Finally, the best reason: I get to play so many great games.

    There are a few downsides, as you said, like having progress be Really slow. However, I find the journey to be a lot more satisfying than the destination so this isn’t a problem for me. The other is any game that has a subscription essentially feels like a waste, so I’ve been staying away from those. There are some concessions, though… like during holiday events, I’ll log in daily to do the repeatable quests, or if a requirement for an achievement needs me to log in daily, or if there is a planned group meeting or guild event. But these are easy concessions and are temporary.

    I don’t think I could pull off half-hour increments as sometimes a good portion of that 30 minutes is game-travel or setting up inventory tabs, etc. Two hour chunks would be more my speed, but that translates to the time I have to game at night anyway.

    tl;dr: Don’t play the same game you played the night before is another method that works well.

    - Ocho

  2. That’s how I work, too. I have to have my time scheduled out and get so much more work done. I write from 7am to 8 or 8:30 every day. I get between 1,000 or 2,000 words written during that time. Two summers ago, I just said I’d write whenever, and barely got 2,000 words in a 5-6 hour block.

    MMOs that can be approached this way are great. I love our new DDO group because we got together, did 4 or 5 quests on Elite and logged out. We had a great time, chatted, and then went our ways. I can schedule an hour or so a week for gaming like that, but I can’t just “I’ll play for a bit” because before I know it, 4 hours are gone, and I’ve accomplished nothing.

  3. I’m incapable of enjoying games in half hour blocks. Not criticizing you for it, of course. But in general when I’ve tried to put a half hour into a game, whether MMO or single player but with the exception of console sports games, I feel like I’m just starting to get into it when it’s time to kill it.

    One hour blocks would probably be the minimum for me.

  4. Pingback: [Question of the Day] How do new single player games affect your MMO playing? « Welcome to Spinksville!

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