When looking over how I spent my time some weeks ago, I noticed I spent more time playing ENDLESS WAR than writing or preparing Novel 02. It’s common for me to dig into hobbies like that and I wouldn’t say I wasted that time, but since then, I tried to deprioritize the Discord MUD and reprioritize my writing time. When I couldn’t sleep, I wondered, is it time to !mine? After looking at the !time: yes.
This essay would almost be more about addiction were it not about life’s addictiveness.
We find things that make us happy or augment certain feelings and we latch onto them. What I like about ENDLESS WAR’s !mining minigames is how robustly predictable it is for me. I can hone in on the game for enough time to forget about the external world for enough time to let things settle. That, I believe, is positive. What’s negative is going back, again and again, without asking what need this task is fulfilling. Referencing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if I played a session to relax, then that would let my body and mind relax enough to go back to sleep.
Well, it’s a double-edged sword, but at least it’s better to know that it is…
I’m now awake past the point I should have gone back to sleep to get any sufficient sleep. In four hours, I’ll be on my way to getting x-rays and bloodwork done, so I imagine that I will end up taking a few-hour nap after I finish writing this essay. Since my mind is sufficiently calm, why not meander through how playing games like ENDLESS WAR can hit all of the major points on the hierarchy of needs? We’ve considered physiological needs already. When I play, I can reinforce my in-game status by acquiring more slime, which can make future play sessions safer.
I can belong to a community and to a specific team.
What’s always interested me most about videogames is the grinding aspect. I find doing a repetitive task to be soothing, psychologically, especially when my life feels erratic or chaotic. If I can paste in the !mine text command into a chatroom repeatedly, in enough of a pattern to have a predictable reaction, then I can zone out until I need to type in a word to prevent myself from falling victim to a mining accident or until I play one of two minigames. [A mini-minigame?] I always skip the minesweeper mini-minigame because it is a “high risk, low reward”-style game, but the bubble shooter mini-minigame fills many of the core aspects about what I like about playing games.
Let’s bring it back a step, then.
When I play games like ENDLESS WAR, or even the bubble shooter mini-minigame, I benefit from playing it, it’s in a safe zone, I can occasionally see Internet friends while I’m playing, where I can show them how to play, and together, we can make progress toward our collective and personal goals. If I help newer players, they can become self-sufficient and thrive in areas that disinterest me. As I approached the end of this session, there was a newer player that participated in an aspect of the game that I’ve already decided is too “high risk, low reward” for me. I get tangental benefits for participating, so I might even say it’s a medium reward, but overall, it’s not really what I’m after.
I want to buy stupid stuff and talk to new people.
Between a culture vulture and a gameplay goon, I’ve made peace with the idea that I’m not interested in playing to any competitive degree like some people, because doing anything competitively means figuring out your priorities. I’ll see the gameplay goons talk about staying up late to do something or another and, well, I’ve been there and I’ve done that for too long. I’ve seen it burn out people in the game! I’d rather just hang out in the background, help when I feel inclined, and ignore the rest.
Last Scenario is a free RPG that has a captivating storyline. I love the game. I also last played it nearly 12 years ago. I’m resisting the urge to dig through the website to remember all these memories of having played the game, resisting the urge to download it, and resist the urge to get as obsessed as I was then to where, well, that’s a story for another day. I think back through the various towns, characters, and I realize how they’ve all survived through 12 years of hard living. Just because I don’t have the time to dedicate currently to replaying or re-experiencing the game doesn’t mean I never will, just as long as I budget my time well enough.
That’s where learning my limits of gameplay is important.
If I gain the most of gaming in the first hour, only to have those physiological through self-actualizing needs decrease through every hour, why play past that first hour for each session? For some games, it might be a matter of setting a timer for yourself so you don’t end up past that point. For other games, like ENDLESS WAR, there are natural timers in place. My team can only mine about half the time. It can take one to four real-world minutes to traverse to various districts. Most limiting, or freeing, of all: I only have a limited number of item slots for healing items. I’ll load up on five lobster meals, !mine, then once I’m out of lobsters, I’ll go back to base. That gameplay cycle will net me enough slime to be able to do most of what I want to do, gameplay-wise, and culture-wise, it’s just the same: dipping my toes into the waters without finding myself drowning in the emotional bullshit that happens with every community. This is one of many Internet communities, after all.
Time to recollect on Last Scenario and take a nap, not mine.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: When I play games with objectives, like this session to have some fun, oddly enough I have more fun. When I just play to escape, I tend to forget why I spent hours playing.|
|Related: Other Media Meandry essays.|
|Screenshot: Cropped to show the Bubble Shooter mini-minigame.|
|Written On: 2020 June 09 [4:20:hahahaha:am to 5:02am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 June 09 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|