There’s an old concept in farming of letting a field go fallow every few years — that is, giving the field a “year off” of being plowed, planted and harvested. Instead, the field is left alone, and during this time it regenerates, replenishing nutrients and whatnot. Because of this, the field doesn’t go barren from constant use, but is good to go a year later.
This concept is not a bad one to translate to the area of MMORPGs. To extend the metaphor, we are “farming” MMOs (not to be confused with instance/raid/gold farming) for enjoyment, newness and excitement. The bounty is rich at the beginning, and depending on how we play the game — if we grind too much, if we switch up our daily routine with varied activities, if we get into an active guild — the MMO can keep producing for us for some time. But sooner or later, it happens: burnout. The field has gone barren; everywhere you look is tasteless drudgery, more of the same, a dearth of entertainment. It can hit suddenly, it may come about gradually, but it’s a disappointment when it happens no matter what. You’ve spent a lot of time in the game, invested into your character, your guild, your achievements, and your final reward is… this?
I loathe burnout. I hate how it makes me dislike a game that I used to be passionate for. I despise that “lost” feeling when your main game suddenly drops out from underneath your feet.
And so — why not be proactive? Instead of waiting for burnout to come to you, why not let your MMO go fallow every so often as part of a master plan? Some folks rotate through MMOs daily, jumping in and out of multiple games during a week, but many gamers are monogomous (or, at least aspire to be in theory). So other games don’t usually enter the equation unless burnout happens or a really hot title catches the eye. But what if we actually planned to play games for a set amount of time, say a month or two, and then take a month off — and here’s the catch — even if we’re still having a good time in the game?
Instead of milking it dry, leave a few drops in the tank. Give yourself something to look forward to returning to, instead of dreading ever touching it again.
Of course, this is far easier said than done. For one thing, it’s not typically in our nature to stop doing something that we enjoy, particularly something we enjoy, have invested a great amount of time into, and have developed relationships with others while doing. So maybe this is an impractical idea, but people who purchase lifetime subscriptions — say to LOTRO — appear to be able to let a game go fallow for a little while and return to it more often at a later date than just give up on it altogether.