Problematic Usage

Previous references to my gaming habits have popped out of the magician’s hat in the form of “addiction” more than once. Wary of self-deceit, I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer accurate. “Problematic usage” is what remains of the two MMOs I am still playing: Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. Nick Yee opines that problematic usage “is more about how your game-play begins to negatively impact your obligations and responsibilities.” This paints an accurate picture of the way in which unconscionable gaming habits defile my free time.

The Secret World isn’t really a problem: I like it well enough to undertake the end-game grind required for AEGIS, maximum QL gear, augments, auxiliary abilities, and so forth. I’ve made a game out of optimizing repeatable missions in Transylvania. There is further entertainment to be found in replaying select issues and group content. I will discover exactly what these are in due time. I don’t think about TSW much when I’m not playing it. The group content is formulaic in the manner of SW:TOR and WoW and therefore psychologically unattractive; I have been able to pick up and put down stories such as Xanth and the Wheel of Time without issue since I was a child.

Guild Wars 2, on the other hand, sent me into a brief conniption. I mentioned in my previous post that it is barely commanding my attention; this is true in the sense that raiding with my guild in WvW is the only activity that I enjoy. I had deleted my previous character roster and took a three-month break during which I tried and disqualified Smite as a long-term contender for my time. In light of very positive changes to GW2, I resolved to return and play one character. Casually. Elementalist. Oh, wait, Mesmer. Boost to level 80. Delete. Tomes of Knowledge to level 80. Delete.

A few weeks on and the gears in the engine of my cognitive processing units began to overheat trying to resolve the conflicting desire to play two professions with only enough rental space in the housing of my mind to accommodate one of them. After several irritable days, I relented and vowed to play both of them casually – as the guild needs.

Being social in an MMO is something I haven’t done in probably a decade. I’m talking to people in voice chat. We fight enemy groups as a unit. My zerg support skills are improving. I’m not in hermit solo mode.

Throwing away those social elements and opportunities for growth in order to solve a problem that is largely cognitive would be overkill.

So I’m trying to set limits: only play GW2 during guild raiding hours. (midnight-4.5 to midnight+1) If not raiding for whatever reason (e.g. large point differential on the night before reset), PvE/PvP with the guild, play The Secret World, or do something else altogether. During the day, do as I did today: cleaned the gutters, mowed the lawn, and took the girls outside to play for about an hour. Like normal people do.

I’m one of those, right?



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