The MMO multitasker

multiAre you an MMO multitasker?

I’m not driven to multitask the way I’ve seen in some others, but I won’t deny that there’s a certain pleasure in getting two things done at once.  For me, I’ll engage in a secondary activity while gaming because I feel that it makes good use of my (limited) time, particularly when I’m playing a session that doesn’t require a lot of active thought.

Puzzles to solve?  Cutscenes to watch?  Tricky dungeon runs?  Building something?  Those situations get my full attention, but they aren’t the bulk of my playtime.  When I’ve loaded up on quests and go out into the world to knock them off, one by one, my brain mostly gets freed up to work on something else while I make progress by boinking things in the head.

So what do I do while MMO multitasking?

I am not the type of person who can play more than one game, and even in the great year of 2015, I do not have a second monitor and have never multiboxed.  Instead, I find myself usually doing one of the following:

  • Listening to podcasts/videos: I like learning through my audio choices, so my current main go-tos are Scifi Debris (because his analysis of Star Trek is both amusing and insightful), The Tolkien Professor (I have learned so much about Middle-earth through his lectures), and Renewing Your Mind (reformed Christian radio series, courtesy of my man RC Sproul).  I’ve sprinkled in gaming podcasts here and there, but oddly enough I don’t usually like listening to them while I game.
  • Vetting soundtracks: I have piles of video game soundtracks (many MMOs in there) to listen through and note which tracks are my favorites.  I can’t listen to music while working — too distracting — but doing so while gaming is perfect.  It allows me to really pay attention to the melody and get a good feel for each piece.
  • Prepping blog posts: I’m never off the blogging clock, even while gaming.  Every so often I’ll stop my gaming to tab out to take notes or screenshots of certain situations or to jot down a subject to talk about.  Finding the story in a gaming session is a welcome challenge and I’m always happy when something happens that’s blog-worthy.
  • Giving my kids love: Sometimes there’s a kid who pops in for a post-bedtime snuggle or a sick one, and that’s when I’ll transform into a human-shaped body pillow.  I have a “I’ll never say no to a hug” policy at home and I always want the kids to know that they come first before any game.
  • Reading: Long load screen or travel time?  Waiting for a group to show up?  I’ll break out my Kindle on a moment’s notice to squeeze in a few more pages.  There’s a danger that comes with that, however; I’ve had more than a few gaming sessions terminate early because I get so into what I’m reading that I’d rather keep doing that than go back to the game.
  • Write encouragement notes: I believe that hand-written notes are incredibly important in affirming my teens, even though I hate, hate writing things out by hand.  So gaming is actually a great way to break up the task: write one postcard, game for five minutes, write another one, game some more, etc.  I’ve also done this for stuffing envelopes and other menial jobs.

Again, I don’t always have to be doing something else.  But it’s nice to walk away from a gaming session at night having not just gotten my character through another questline or to a new level, but also to have made progress in another project altogether.

4 thoughts on “The MMO multitasker

  1. Aywren January 7, 2015 / 9:52 am

    I’m such a terrible multitasker. I tend to get stressed when I try to do two things at once, so I generally throw all my attention on the MMO I’m playing, even when I’m doing redundant tasks. I don’t usually listen to music outside of the game, either, because I like to try to remain as immersed in the game world as possible.

    A few exceptions, though… When I was mega-grinding crafting levels in EQ2 a few years back. I would take advantage of the double XP weekends that came from time to time, and spent days grinding about 9-10 of my many alts to level 80+ crafting through completing writs in the guild hall. The only thing that kept me sane was listening to soundtracks. Will probably never do something like that again.

    Sometimes, while I’m fishing in FFXIV, I’ll work on thumbnailing rough art for my webcomic and other art projects. I also only have one monitor at home, but I still draw the rough draft with pencil and paper. So I can easily cast my line and sketch a bit while waiting for the sound of a fish hooking. I don’t do that a whole lot, though, because I actually enjoy the winding down and mindless fishing in games.

  2. bhagpuss January 7, 2015 / 1:57 pm

    I multi-task a lot less while playing MMOs than I used to. From 1999 until TSW came out I pretty much always had the radio on in the background but the lengthy and worth-hearing voiceovers in Funcom’s game forced me to switch it off and I’ve never really switched it back on again.

    Back in the old dial-up days, when zoning took a good while, there was a lot of zoning and Everquest couldn’t be played (legally) in a window, I used to keep a book by the PC and read a page or two every time I zoned. Then tabbing out became a thing and I took to web browsing instead. That was fine as zone times got much shorter and seamless worlds came into fashion. Then GW2 arrived.

    GW2 has THE LONGEST zone times I have seen since 2004. I’m now in the habit of tabbing out every time I change maps or characters, usually to read, write or comment on blogs. Sometimes I spend half the session tabbed out. I actually half-wish we could go back to the days when you were blocked from leaving the game.

  3. Dolnor January 7, 2015 / 6:24 pm

    My multitasking involves playing more than 1 game at a time. While crafting 3000 iron ore in ArcheAge, I’ll be playing a bit of smash-everything in LEGO Minifigures Online. Or mining resources in LOTRO. Or reading 3 different gaming forums.


  4. Rowan January 8, 2015 / 9:01 am

    @Bhagpuss re: GW2 zone times: I KNOW! I did not remember the zone times being that long before returning last week. And I’d been playing TSW which has some pretty serious zone times, as well.

    As for the subject at hand, unless there is a TV show I am half paying attention to, I am unlikely to multitask much while gaming. Regular interruptions? Sure. I suppose I do tab out to the internet for a bit during zone loads, or to research a question.

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