I'm Sick Of The Disturbingly Neat Lives Video Games Expect Us To Enjoy

Following the rules and doing what I'm 'supposed' to do in life are troublesome ideas to me. I'm supposed to acquire a comfortable career path that lands me a nice house with a white picket fence, a husband and a couple of kids?

Pursuing that manicured lifestyle requires certain drone-like beliefs. For instance, there is the idea that we have little choice in life if we want to be successful. There are also particular skills that are deemed crucial in the pursuit of success, such as skills necessary for office life. Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic, but that lifestyle sounds disturbingly neat, disgustingly sterile. I've tried living in a way that combats these 'perfect' ideals, but I feel that many of the popular games I play reinforce the idea that I am just a cog in the machine meant to live a complacent, meaningless life where I have little choice in what I do and why I do it.

Sometimes, I observe my friend playing Skyrim. I watch her play Skyrim, because I can't play Skyrim myself anymore, but I'd like to understand why others do. I originally had fallen to the hype — the incessant clamor that described Skyrim as The Next Best Thing — and bought it on day one. I spent forever creating my character — from the contours of her face to determining the intricacies of her skills — because I was convinced of her potential. I had high hopes for her: she had a vast, exciting world in front of her that she was ready to domineer. She was, after all, in very capable hands.

Skyrim promised me the oft-peddled and largely untrue myth of being able to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and it while it delivered on that promise, what I found myself doing was often depressingly meaningless and rote.

My excitement was rooted in the minutiae of Skyrim mechanics. The new skill system meant that I was not as deterred by background, since I was allowed to develop my abilities however I saw fit. The idea that race determined some innate proficiencies as well as intrinsic ineptitude troubled me, but the major determinant to my success was the time and dedication put into refining my talents. Contrast to my reality — where my race, sex and gender alone have dictated many things beyond my control, such as my reproductive rights, my education and the opportunities available to me growing up.

In Skyrim, the promise was that if I worked for something hard enough, the skill would naturally level up, regardless of class. This reminded me a bit of Malcolm Gladwell's ideas about success, described in his book, Outliers: if you put enough time (10,000 hours) and effort into something, then success is guaranteed. Looking at the stories behind high-profile groups and figures, such as the Beatles and Bill Gates, that's the constant between them: they all put 10,000 hours into their craft. There's asterisks, of course: they all had the right conditions and just enough luck to pursue their dreams, and they tended to be of, err, privileged backgrounds, but that sort of thing isn't an issue in Skyrim.

Skyrim promised me the oft-peddled and largely untrue myth of being able to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and it while it delivered on that promise, what I found myself doing was often depressingly meaningless and rote. Quests. A thousand quests, each broken down so specifically that I never had to think about what I was doing. Just follow the instructions, the quest marker to the latest inane chore that I had difficulty pulling myself away from for some reason.

I stopped playing after losing a few largely pointless, unfulfilling — but addictive — days to the game. I told myself I probably just wasn't in the right mindset to find Skyrim meaningful, which was strange to think about since it's not as if it wasn't engrossing. It was difficult to explain, then.

My friend kept playing, though — almost every day, for months. Most people I knew did the same. I didn't get it, but I became determined to understand. I asked her why she kept playing despite most of it seeming like busywork, and this question was met with a shrug. I asked her why she spent hours crafting armour despite not actively working towards anything, and she had no idea. I would ask her why she was undertaking a quest that day, and there was never a particular reason.

I remarked that watching her play was like seeing her check things off a to-do list, taking cues from how organised she tended to be in real life. Suddenly the robotic gaze enveloped in the world of Skyrim broke free of the glow of the screen. "That's exactly it," she said. "I like feeling like I'm checking things off a to-do list. I feel like I can take charge of my responsibilities and that's comforting."

I spoke to another friend, one who can be understood to be a "suit". We're talking about the type of guy who laughs when you say he's "sold out" because he considers himself one of the people who has helped make "the system" that one hypothetically sells out to in the first place. He told me how, in his world, projects are divided into tasks, milestones and resources meant to create a critical path toward project completion — "this," he explains, "is called a project management tool."

Management. I was doing a lot of task-management, wasn't I? The quest menu, like a digital "IN" box that was perpetually full....only there was no "OUT" box. Suddenly the discomfort I felt with the endless array of quests detailing step by step what I had to do, which continually regenerated as a means to keep me lost in the icy void of Skyrim's world, made sense. Suddenly it all felt a little sinister, a little sickening — especially when you consider that the regenerating quest system, a part of the "Radiant Quest' mechanic in Skyrim, is a feature meant to keep you hooked to the game.

I recalled the 9-5 job, I had office a few years back. I was playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 nightly then, obsessed with mastering large-scale warfare. Every day, I made the mind-numbing commute to my office; every night, the barrel of a gun guided me forward in the arid Atacama desert. Back in the office, the day-to-day always felt meaningless and unfruitful. Cubicles brimming with unfulfilled workers who didn't know what they were doing there, or how they got there at best. At worst, they were there solely because it provided a pay cheque. It was well-managed rote, but it was a job. "If you don't think about it very much," my co-worker tried to reassure me, "maybe it could even be fun!"

In some ways, there didn't seem to be that big of a split between my work-day and my playtime...I was repeating the same actions, over and over again, with no gain whatsoever.

In some ways, there didn't seem to be that big of a split between my work-day and my playtime. The line between "work" and "fun" was fluider than I'd like to admit — it still is. I was repeating the same actions, over and over again, with no gain whatsoever. Superiors wouldn't notice discrepancies in the Excel sheets, if they were even read, but I had to keep writing them anyway. They'd give us promises of raises, of awards, of recognition. In Battlefield, there were systems on top of the game itself, meant to keep me chained to the game: ribbons, levels, experience points.

I had wrung everything I could possibly get from the game itself about 10 hours in, similar to how I had learned everything I was going to learn from that job about a week in. Yet there I was, hours and hours of playtime (297), doing the same thing. Why do any of us play a game well after it has anything substantial to offer us, or worse, pay money to scrape up an excuse to do the same things again with a slightly new coat of paint?

Games as services, built entirely around the idea of keeping us coming back for more of the same — that is the ‘service' — are the future, I'm told. And you can't put "FOUR HOURS OF MEANINGFUL GAMEPLAY, EVERYTHING AFTER IS REPETITION!!!" on the back of a box, now can we? That wouldn't sell well. Plus we we eat up everything after that ‘meaningful gameplay,' anyway. Games are good at keeping us engaged despite offering little meaningful or new, just like a secure job is good at keeping its unhappy workers drudging. I still know people playing Bad Company 2, and I know people still working at that office. The office workers tell me they have no choice, that they've sacrificed their dreams because security is more important. Others would tell me there was no reason to look for something better, that menial job was good enough.

My friends tried getting me into Rift. I'd never played an MMO before, they seemed largely uninteresting to me, but Rift marketed itself on how different it was from World of Warcraft. That ethos is expressed in the name itself: Rift, but also, similarly to Skyrim, in the class system. I was allowed to mix and match different classes to create my own special one. My friends and I ran around closing the many, many Rifts plaguing Telara, which threatened to....something. It didn't really matter why I was there, playing the game was largely an excuse to be social with a few friends. Eventually, though, we couldn't just charge forward. The newest boss in our way was beyond our level, and we had to grind. So I hunkered down, put on some music whose only purpose was to help me zone out, and grinded. When I got up, about a month of my life had vanished. Just, gone.

I started out wanting to gain enough aptitude to defeat a boss, and sure, I overthrew him fine, but not well enough. The annihilation wasn't total, it wasn't absolute. I had to try harder than I thought I needed to. My imperative, then, became making things easier for myself. Grinding would allow me to glide through obstacles with ease, with minimal thought to where I was going and what I was doing. All the enemies were dealt with the same way: click, dead, click, dead. I think I was happy with that, with not having to try.

I have a close friend. Had? I'm not sure. Thing is, I try to push people to do something with their lives, to lead a life worth living. Sometimes, that can be jarring — it's not that I want to lead people's lives for them, but I'm adamant about making sure I surround myself with people who are like-minded. After a long stream of unfortunate events, this friend found himself penniless, living in his parents home without a job or a future. Once, he had a dream. He wanted to have his own game studio, he wanted to make triple-A games. He had ideas, ambition, drive. That all disappeared with the stifling, deadening air of depression. Years have gone by, and there he is, still. Living in that same town, not doing much with his life. "You need to go out there and do things. Let me help you. You have so much to offer the world," I would tell him. "What's the point? What if I don't really want to do anything ‘meaningful,' what if I'm happy exactly where I am? Why try?" he would ask me.

I stopped playing Rift.

'You're so close! Just finish!' they would say. Why wasn't I treating it like a game, where you grind — something nobody really likes, but we all do because we don't have a choice — in order to get what you want? Turn my brain off, shut up and 'just do it' to better cope.

I've never wanted to take up a typical six-figure profession, much to the chagrin of my parents. That's what they sent me to college to do, to get a job and have the life they could never have. The expectation was law school, business school — something useful, something with promise. They were flabbergasted at my pay cheques while at college: how could I possibly be making less than they were? There are no room for dreams. If there were, I'd have been abandoned by a wide-eyed single mother who wasn't planning on having a child at fifteen. Instead, sacrifice. For me, for my future! Many times while at college, I've wanted to drop out. There was nothing I could see myself doing that would necessitate me staying there, especially with how unhappy it made me. How dare I, selfish brat, throw away the future so meticulously planned for me?

I was supposed to be out there, doing something with myself, saving the world maybe, but instead I was...writing useless papers? I, too, developed a mental illness. I would tell people that I couldn't do it, I couldn't finish, it was killing me. 'You're so close! Just finish!' they would say. Why wasn't I treating it like a game, where you grind — something nobody really likes, but we all do because we don't have a choice — in order to get what you want? Turn my brain off, shut up and 'just do it' to better cope, eventually I'd get that sweet, sweet reward — levels, items, a diploma. Everyone does things they don't like, that's an integral part of life.

"You think I like going to work and scrubbing toilets every day? " my mother growls, "I don't. I'm doing it so I can send my snot-faced kid to school, and she doesn't even appreciate it."

Sometimes, I'd ask my college friends why they were in school.

"Hah. What kind of a question is that?" "Shit, I don't know. I guess I had to." "My parents made me." "I'm not entirely sure, but this is what you're supposed to do...."

I want to brag more often about what a something taught me, made me feel, where it took me — something beyond the hours of gameplay a ‘good' title can offer me, something beyond what a paycheck and security can give me.

The idea that there was no choice involved in my life, that my future was practically decided for me, is exasperating. Imagine me, then, playing through Final Fantasy 13 and through LA Noire. Cole Phelps, ace detective in the latter game, is gunning for the top. He will rise through the ranks, he wants the prestige. Everything in the game serves toward that purpose: the propulsion of Cole's life, Cole's career. You are not allowed to fail — should you muck up an investigation or an interrogation, the game moves forward anyway. It's an existential crisis to play LA Noire: Cole has no choice, but he does have a destiny, and you can't fight that. The largely dead city of LA, almost an elaborate cardboard cutout, is only there to serve as a backdrop of your pre-determined life. LA is the box in which your career is meant to happen. The streets are full of cheerleader NPCs applauding you and your career forward, and the game feels as eerie as a permanent smile as a result. And then there was Final Fantasy, with its innovative class system that allowed you to swap roles on the fly, but still suffered from endless straight corridors. Long, gruelling paths that you could not deviate from until almost the very end of the game. Retirement is when you're allowed to do whatever you want, right?

I want to make choices — what we do in life is always a choice — I want to live a life worth living, I want purpose. I figure these are some of the fundamental ingredients toward approaching happiness. This desire for a worthwhile, meaningful life bleeds into games. I want them to mean something, stand for something or say something on top of being amusing to play. If I want to be bold in my demands, having both mechanical strength and thematic strength in games would be fantastic.

I want to brag more often about what a something taught me, made me feel, where it took me — something beyond the hours of gameplay a ‘good' title can offer me, something beyond what a pay cheque and security can give me. Games often don't come through because, to generalize, the design imperative seems to be to make players lose track of time, to get engulfed in repetition they can zone out to, and if done successfully, games can make you look past the fact that they didn't amount to much beyond how ‘addictive' and ‘fun' they were. And maybe that's OK for some people, just like some people think its enough to live unambitious, unassuming and comfortable lives.

It's not enough for me, though.

Patricia Hernandez is the editor-in-chief of Nightmare Mode, a site devoted to writing critically about games. She can be found on Twitter, typically ranting about SNSD, gifs and games, or emailed at patricia (at) nightmaremode (dot) net.


Comments

    I got bored with this article about 3/4 of the way through because all I was reading (over and over again) was "wash, I'm too interesting for a boring office job like all of these chumps I know, why can't modern video games be designed for exciting and dynamic lifestyles like mine?".

    Do I agree that modern games feel a bit like checking off a to do list? Sure, but that's all games ever were, it's just not as well disguised these days. There's also plenty of games that subvert this, so if you're disappointed with the banality of quest lines in games like Skyrim, stop buying games like Skyrim. There are developers who need your money more than Bethesda. Big games are made for the masses... And that's what this really comes down to isn't it?

    Skyrim is made for ANYONE to play, and that's just not good enough for someone as experienced and interesting as Patricia Hernandez.

      I also agree. I had to stop about half way. This article is waaaay too long.
      You don't like Skyrim, we get it already. Does it really take you 3000 words to justify that to your readers?

    Interesting, but I think ironically I didn't really feel like there was enough of a message to justify this piece. It was really just a rant about "grind mode" that didn't offer any solution or alternative viewpoint.

    Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of people would agree with her, but I just don't see much point to the article other than "OMG grinding is sooooo boring". The problem there is that grinding and repetition are the very definition of a game, even before the advent of video games. You set the rules, define the task, and repeat. Just look at sports. You have the rules, you define the task, and you repeat.

    Meanwhile "click, kill, click, kill" is an oversimplification (though in some games not by much) but this again is integral to a video game. We use a device to interact with the game world and, whether it's a mouse or controller or keyboard or whatever, it all comes down to pressing the right button at the right time. This has been true of the vast majority of video games, ever. You might want games that emphasize thought and tactics - and they exist - but commerical games, Skyrim included, cater to a crowd where thinking is the enemy. They want to come home, relax, hit a few buttons and see a few monsters, people, etc. die.

    So, if you are sick of shallow gameplay, avoid the big commercial games designed for the tune-out crowd. They are out there but you won't find a quest marker pointing to them. Or you coud you know, try reading a book. You'll probably find the narratives much more fulfilling at the expense of immersion.

    Interesting and well thought out article. I've been playing video games almost my entire life, I have several pc's at home as well as an xbox, build a new pc gaming machine every 2 years. But for the last year, I've been becoming more and more disillusioned with the games on offer. I would buy several games a month, then it dropped to one a month, in the last few years its been a couple a year. The last game I purchased was Skyrim. I absolutely agree with Patricia, at first I enjoyed Skyrim, so did my friends, but something just never felt right. Eventually I stopped playing and havent' played it in months, even removed it from my computer. Occassionally I look at my games collection and remember the joy I use to get from games, but now I just have no interest. Maybe its the games, but maybe its me. I still wander into games stores from time to time and remember what it was once like and even read game reviews and try to look for something of interest, but after playing thousands of games, there really is nothing new and nothing original anymore. So I devote myself to new interests and remember with fondness, my love of games. I'm sorry its not you but its me, I think we have drifted apart...

      This^
      AAA games have become al lthe same.
      I now enjoy dabbling in indies, even if only for a few minutes at a time..

      Trust me mate its not just you. Skyrim seemed like a catalyst. I managed to obtain lvl 17 in it then just stopped. Im starting to think that it destroyed part of my brain because like you, i just cannot enjoy games even a fraction as much as i used to. Deus ex, Batman AA, and LA Noir sit in my collection unplayed as I just cannot bring myself to. Maybe this condition needs
      investigating.. but maybe games really just arent what they used to be.

    I really couldn't read through much of this article. Skipped through and read a few bits. My understanding of this is: "I want lots and lots of choice, gimme!". I would agree that in some cases games may be terribly linear and grinding, but as Matthew K points out, this is essentially what the vast majority of games are all about... moving through a plotline interactively in order to get the story, participate in the story, and conclude it.

    Imagine if you will, a game that will please Patricia. Can you imagine how many options you have, the reactions of the NPCs, the customisations possible? I certainly can't, since Patricia seems to want endless choice, and that is okay to want, but you also have to think about the other side of this. How you will design/develop/code that game? How do you have NPC reactions to free text dialogue? What if you typo in your response and say "Helo"? The immense options are too infeasible to create. It's all well and good to wish for a more expansive game, but it's basically the same as me wanting a Large Hadron Collider of my own.

    I would perhaps suggest the Gothic series... I hated the one I played (3) since it was so delinear I spent 5 hours, visited 10 villages and basically all I got of a storyline was: Orcs dislike humans.

    I've got some insight here.

    For years I chased my dream. I was a musician, and I became pretty successful. I was extremely fortunate. I got to travel the world, record albums, spend hours signing autographs. I had the gear I always wanted, I hadn't seen a bill in years, I didn't have to pay for things. I had fans, I got fan mail, staff at festivals and concerts appeared privileged just be around me. I remember being in Nashville one year for a series of press events and while I was standing in the penthouse our publicist had transformed into a press lounge I realized that I shared the same publicist as one of my musical idols. Over the course of my career I had the fortune to mingle with many people I once idolized, my heroes became acquaintances.

    I had a career that countless others would envy.

    So what happened? I slowly began to realize that the human perspective of success is so broken and unbalanced. There were so few happy people around me, I was surrounded by a trail of broken marriages and broken people. I needed illegal drugs to sleep. We were all numb to so many things. The business ran the show, not the talent. One night, at a festival, somewhere in the Midwest of America, I remember looking at a massive line of kids waiting for our autographs and thinking 'I have no interest in meeting any of these kids, I want to be at home with my kids'.

    My guitar became a tool. I eventually despised it to the point that picking it up to rehearse brought on a headache. I craved an ordinary, mundane life. My wife began to suffer from depression.

    I made a decision to quit everything on a whim one day. It was only a matter of time. I sent my wife back to Australia with my family and, after finishing my last tour I left everything I owned except one guitar, and joined her back home.

    Oh the bliss of suburban life. I have a really humble job, I earn enough to get by, I can pay the bills and afford to buy the video games I want. I work 40 hours a week and I'm home every single night and I read my kids a bet time story almost every night. I guess to anyone else this seems like a 'grind', a monotonous lifestyle, but the catharsis of a practical job surrounded by grounded people should not be overlooked. I work at a service station (a gas station to Americans) and I'm not only happier than I've ever been, I'm also healthier than I've every been. I pity all of the people I left behind with the drugs, women and junk they require to keep themselves numb and operational, they were like zombies, afraid of becoming irrelevant. You see, the grind keeps people grounded. People always want more, they think a more successful life will make them happy. People crave a more successful, more dynamic, faster lifestyle. but few people realize that everything they need to make them happy is right underneath their nose.

    I'm fortunate to have lived on both sides of the fence and survived to know which one is better for a person and which side makes you happier. Do not discount the supposedly mundane things in life, the simple pleasures of life that most people take for granted are actually the best shot that anyone has of really being happy.

      :)

      Most interesting comment evaaaar

      Thanks for sharing!

        You're welcome.

        People always think the grass is greener on the other side. I guess I'm one of the few people who's had the opportunity to actually go to the other side and find out the truth.

      Can I ask what band/musical group you were in? My life is a fairly similar story, even down the the Nashville experience.

        To be honest I'd rather not say, not in an effort to remain mysterious, but it pains me to associate myself with a part of my life that brought put my family under so much strain to the point of breaking. I hardly ever talk about it to be honest and I only felt like bringing it up right now because of the way the author seemed to paint an 'ordinary life' as something lacking, something less when in truth, there is so much fulfillment to be had.

      This could be my favourite comment ever. Ever.

        +1

          +1.
          That comment really made me smile - Cheers Scott!

      This comment made the decision to click on and read this 'article' worthwhile. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    The types of games I prefer are those with emergent dynamics, the sand box that creates a new story each time. Battlefield games give me this experience, I don't care so much for the stats, ranks and awards as I do for the experience and dynamics of play. Sure each time I play its using the same toys but I love how you never know what's going to happen, it's an unpredictable play space that you can react too. I love it and I keep coming back to it.

    Skyrim while appearing to be a sandbox doesn't produce the same effect for me. It's fun and immersive for a time but it becomes too predictable after you've done allot of quests. I sunk (90hrs) into it and there is some amount of stuff left to complete, but the experience is no longer compelling enough for me to want to keep playing anymore. I thought about restarting and playing as a mage of melee based player but I couldn't bring myself to want to go through all the same content again.

    I love all the comments along the lines of "I played the game for 90hrs, and now it feels like a chore." If you even enjoyed the first twenty as much as I did, you got your monies worth.

      Yes i agree 100%, i've put in a huge amount of time and have now got a bit bored with the same caves etc but what i played was a fantastic experience which was DEFINITELY worth the money and time i have spent on it.

    Games like Skyrim simply remind me of how far deviated my job is from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Due to some very specific wording in the corporations act, I have a job that pays me okay. Whenever people ask me what it is that I do, no matter how well I think I’ve explained it they always have a slightly puzzled look on their face and just give me a smile and nod.

    Maybe I should just move to Perth and become a miner.

    Finally a GOOD article on Kotaku!! I guess there is a first time for everything. :p

      Of all the Mark and Tracey and Logan and Fatshady and many, many other good articles in the history of Kotaku and you announce this one as the first good article?

      If length means good to you, let me introduce you to one Tim Rogers.

    This article was pretty self indulgent. It seems to me that Patricia is currently disillusioned with her life and has chosen to dump these negative feelings on video games in the form of unreasonable expectations.
    I personally quest in games to make positive changes to the in game worlds I play in.
    Helping others in games like Fallout can be very emotionally rewarding.
    Different people play for different reasons.

    I don't like being told that getting married, having kids, owning a house and getting a job is drone-like behaviour. I feel like I've made the conscious decision to undertake each of these steps and (with the exception of my job, which could be better) am a much happier, more confident, better-balanced person than I was before, with a much healthier appreciation for the different stages and walks of life than I ever could have been when I was younger.

      I love workin at my servo, I'm now an assistant manager and soon I'll have my own site. Getting up at the crack of dawn, receiving the deliveries of bread, ordering tomorrow's milk, getting the pies warmed up, talking to regular customers like Bill, Barry and Colin about the front page of today's paper, filing paperwork, cleaning the pumps, putting stock on shelves. I feel like now more than ever I'm doing something with my life and making a contribution to society. Coming home from work, picking up my kids from school, smelling the wife's cooking at night ... I thought after a while I'd get bored of everyday life but after 3 years I'm still in love.

        A good percentage of the people in my age group (18-25) have this belief that unless you have a career in the creative industries that you lead a mundane life. I work a help desk role which would be considered mundane but I enjoy talking to people and it gives me the time and money to do what I want and then some. The line "find a job you enjoy and you'll never work a day in your life" is pretty BS.

    really enjoyed this. i've felt the same way about max level in Swtor. I enjoyed the journey more than the destination. as for the hate comments, I think people lack attention span

    Haha, this article is a joke. It feels like it was written by a teary child.

    It's okay Patricia. Some of us just weren't meant to be loved.

    "I feel like I can take charge of my responsibilities and that’s comforting.”"

    I stopped there because that's the point right there in black and white.

    Why do we do so many pointless job-like activities in games? Because somebody needs YOU to do it because they know YOU are the best person for the job and YOU know you can achieve it.

    In real life however we need to go through an arduous process of impressing somebody else to to be offered the opportunity to work for them, where there are many others who could probably do it better. We often have doubts about how capably we can do these tasks or whether our bosses think we are and could only be inches from getting axed.

    In games when somebody needs 10 boar tooths; we are the great Boarslayer! We get clear rewards and clear feedback letting us know that we're a bit better at chopping up boars. Basically the reason we do shitty jobs in games is because they're better than shitty jobs in reality: because the basic rules of a game world are so much less complicated than the infinite variables of real life.

    What a hate filled article. Yep, just another Kotaku winner here.

    Still a few quick fixes for this bitches problems.

    -Don't play the game.
    -Don't insult people who play the game.
    -Its just fantasy, of course races have different traits.
    -Nobody calls them 'suits' anymore.
    -I don't think you have a very good grasp of reality.
    - And of course, try to seperate the game from real life.

    -

      The article might not be great but calling her a bitch is completely inappropriate and uncalled for. What are you even thinking I don't know.

    You can turn quest markers off.

    I got bored shortly after that bit.

    Geez what a debbie downer. Games are meant to be enjoyed.

    I'll go back and read comments, but on first blush I agree totally with this article. The grind and pointless gear is why I quit Diablo 2 and WoW, but the personal achievement and social connection kept me going back to the arcades for Tekken Tag, SF3:TS and, nowadays, SF4:AE 2012.

    On PC it's mostly Minecraft and Starcraft 2 - the whole point is to share an experience with a fellow gamer. Winning is nice, but I have fun if I play well regardless of result. I get my arse handed to me time and again in the arcade, but I can tell when I've had a good game and it's a blast!

    It should be noted that RPGs are basically the thrust of this article. Almost every other game can be played and enjoyed in other ways - especially fighting, FPS and racing where it's you vs. another human being and you're sharing a (virtual) experience.

    "The idea that race determined some innate proficiencies as well as intrinsic ineptitude troubled me.."

    How does she even make it through a day in real life? I stopped reading after that line. Forgetting real life racial differences, if these things bother her in a video game, she doesn't need to be playing RPGs.

    Hey Patricia. You've laid your soul out here and had a lot of people criticise you for that - and that's not fair. I suppose your mistake may have been in submitting this to Kotaku, where commenters are practically trained to be nasty.

    I understand the melancholia; the unsatisfying repetition of the Game under the impression that it ought to lead you somewhere better. I also understand that in real life. I also prefer games with an emotional payoff.

    Skyrim has one of the most useless stories in an RPG. As soon as I completed the main storyline, I lost interest in the game. Why? It had nothing of emotional value to offer me anymore.

    I also want/wanted to live a life with purpose - to feel like I was contributing something; making a difference of some kind. Know what I'm doing? Finding a way to do that. I've gotten involved in studying world politics, I finished a Masters degree and I'm working on getting a job where I get to contribute to real decision making.

    And you know what? I enjoy games more when I play them now. Because they're not a substitute for real life, and they're not a painkiller to drown out the melancholia associated with wasting my time. I play games to socialise with my friends and sometimes to experience cool stories. Because trying to save the real world is far more interesting than trying to save Skyrim.

    Blah Blah I hate Skyrim. Blah Blah why cant games be more interesting. Blah Blah. Geez lady - take a break. After an incredibly long article (which I did read completely) I find that you are really just having a moan about the "to do" list of games like Skyrim, and I can agree that it and most certainly MMO's have a "to do" list attitude. Does that necessarily make them bad though? This shows that the player is making progress - which can be very satisfying. All games (all media, really) create a world, create conflict, and create solutions. What alternatives can you offer?

    There might have been some good points in there , but in the same article bagging on the friend who moved into his parents basement and the friend that "sold out" is hypocritical to say the least and soured the articles point for me.

    I think every gamer gets to a point where they are played out and feel jaded, take a break do something else for a while, your save files will still be there when you come back to it.
    Sometimes you do feel like you have wasted your play time on a game that is ultimately unfulfilling, okay, that happens, we have all persevered through a movie hoping it might get better and doesn't.. this may even be a movie that people swear is the best thing ever (im looking at you Drive) but at the end of it you are going "well.. that sort of sucked"
    It happens doesn't mean you should give up on movies all together, of course games are a longer time investment, but again if you find its not for you, that's cool trade it in for something else or focus on another hobby for a while.

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