One of the gaming memories that haunts me to this day came around 2005 or 2006, when I had been so deep into World of Warcraft — and nothing else — for well over a year. It was the very definition of a game that sucked me in, maybe moreso than any title that had come before.
But then one evening, I crashed. I had been doing the same thing, over and over again, logging into the same game, night after night, and I hit a wall. I hit burnout so hard and so quickly that it actually frightened me to an extent. WoW was my gaming life, and I had nothing else. And if I was burned out of WoW, what else did I have?
On a larger scale, that shows how I need to make sure that nothing other than God becomes my personal idol and source of satisfaction. But on the scale of MMOs and video gaming, it taught me an invaluable lesson about how extreme repetition and a lack of variety will ultimately result in a crash ‘n burn. For me, at least, it’s not “if” but “when.”
This is why my thing, ever since, has been about diversity and moderation in gaming. I don’t get so invested and tied to a game that I can never step away, and I don’t tend to just play one and only one game at any given time. Usually my gaming roster hovers around two to four titles, and that has proven to be a sweet spot in giving me variety without making me too frustrated in trying to keep up in multiple games with limited time.
However, variety *within* an MMO is important as well, because there are always those ruts we fall into when we’re going through our routines. Some of my biggest ruts are when I’m willingly engaging in repeated activities, such as dailies or event objectives or reputation grinds, that don’t change. You’re chasing a reward, not the experience, and hoping that you can outpace your own boredom and burnout in the process.
Last week, I recognized that I had been creating a rather dangerous rut in World of Warcraft in my pursuit to level up four 120s for the expansion. I had already gotten two of them done and was hacking away at a third when I just hit a wall. Not a hard wall, maybe one of those cushy walls or something. But I just knew that I didn’t have the stomach to keep power-leveling through dungeons or the heart to level through expansions with the weird double XP thing messing up the flow.
So instead I went, hey, if I’m going to play, it should be something of interest and enjoyable first, and beneficial to my progress second. That, for me, turned into questing through Battle for Azeroth on my Druid. I have plenty of zones left to do and haven’t really fought on that character lately, so it’s a good change of pace. And questing is something that rarely leads to burn-out because there’s always a change of scenery and more stories to experience.