Stop Stealing My Time

I’ve noticed a increasing pattern in my life recently: I’m resenting games. I suspect a lot of people are feeling it to some extent, the mobile model of paying to speed up games or you can’t play probably being the most obvious one but the thing that’s getting me the most at the moment is different. It’s the fact that games steal time from me. They make me repeat actions, revisit areas, chase low frequency drops in an effort to extend play times. This is time they are taking from us just to prolong the experience rather than making the experience better.

Game developers deciding that I need to put in some work before I can see the real game used to be something that I would put up with, but tell me I need to get to level 20 to really enjoy Destiny and I’m much more likely to consider what else I can do with that time that’ll be more fun. Tell me that an MMOs endgame is where it really starts and I’ll not bother playing what is by definition just hour upon hour of padding to get there. Tell me that there’s a 0.2% chance of getting the drop I want and I’ll see the 99.8% chance of me having wasted my time that could have been better spent sinking 10s of hours into something like Civilization. Tell me that your game lasts 100 hours and I’ll think that’s far too long for me to get invested in just in case the game is good and you haven’t padded it out just to hit a massively high number.

It’s not actually about the time spent, I’ll gladly put the hours in if I don’t think that the developers are wasting my time in order to prolong their game. It feels like they are stealing my time, and only I should get to choose what I do with that.

More often or not whenever I get told I need to level up in order to progress in a game now I’ll just walk away. It turns out that it means I play a lot more games that I actually enjoy the minute to minute of.

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2 thoughts on “Stop Stealing My Time

  1. Akely says:

    Often it’s the cynicism that gets me. Not counting the odd exception (Eve) I tend to play games that are short, and I make them shorter by setting the hardness to below normal. It’s not that I can’t beat the game otherwise, it’s the time.

    If I am going to spend time in a game I want it to really hit me in the right spot. Like Kerbal Space Program. I can happily tinler for hours in there. Perhaps it’s the thing that it does not waste my time with random drops and such. The is exactly, and delivers exactly what I put into it.

    Come to think of it: I tend to enjoy the things in Eve that is not very random. Just last night I did (one of the first sites out in Null-sec I’ve done ever) and the drops where… none. And I had thet exact feeling that you mention.. “That was a waste of my time!”.

    It’s hard, because you can’t have that über drop every time now, can you? Because then it would not be that Big Drop.

    • jonshute says:

      The alternative to the random drop is probably the token system where you get to buy the items you want from a more predictable currency that drops instead, but that really brings how much of a grind it is into focus by putting numbers like “I’ll have to run this 100 times” instead of the lottery of “I might get this first time”. Kerbal’s science points are a good example of it working. I know I’ll have to design some interesting missions to pay for unlocking that new piece, but I don’t mind because it’s always under my control.

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