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How I turned into a reclusive video gamer

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For someone who’s played MMOs as long as I have, I have gone through a drastic change in the way I play video games nowadays. When I quit WoW last year, in March 2015, and then FFXIV later last year, something happened. I stopped wanting to play with strangers. I don’t care that strangers could turn into friends, because realistically, I don’t see that happening anymore. I highly value the wonderful people I met through gaming and blogging and wouldn’t miss them for my life. Regardless, the thought of logging into an MMO, MOBA or the new thing, cooperative shooters, I am just not feeling it. Instead, it fills me with dread.

I recently tried the Battleborn beta on my PS4, because I like checking out hyped games. It looked colorful, in a vaguely Wildstar-ish way. I played solo, because the thought of teaming up with other people, mostly male gamers who are really into shooters seriously turned me off. Frankly, I am not good at any kind of shooter gameplay, much less so with a controller and its imprecise targetting. I can do it for shit and giggles when I play Uncharted, but when I die in Uncharted no one cares or might sit there raging because I suck. I have crappy reflexes, I strafe like a noob, every headshot I actually manage is cause for celebration. I wouldn’t want to upset anyone with the way I play, and so, I don’t play multiplayer. However, most big game releases these days are multiplayer.

My summary of Battleborn: characters looked quirky, gameplay in solo PvE was kinda unexciting, and I sucked hard. Needless to say, I didn’t manage to successfully complete that first scenario because the boss felt super-hard to me. Also, I suck. I liked Borderlands a LOT better than Battleborn.

I played the robot with the hat and monocle and couldn't figure out his shield ability at all.

I played the robot with the hat and monocle and couldn’t figure out his shield ability at all.

I flail, lost at sea, a sea consisting of games and hype that go right over my head like a rolling wave.

Video game hype is a thing of beauty at times. It’s easy to be swept up when everyone gets excited about a new release. It happens with every major MMO launch, expansion or AAA release. I soak up the hype on Twitter, but I don’t rush out and follow the hype anymore. I almost bought The Division. I had it in my cart at Amazon, and the only reason I didn’t buy it was that I was mad about Amazon.de’s policy of charging 5 Euro shipping for 18+ games. That was the closest I got to the hype trap recently. Why would I buy a 3rd person multiplayer shooter? I was the worst at Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer. Seriously, the worst.

Right this moment, I am following the hype once more. I am downloading the Overwatch beta, and my stomach already turns at the thought of dealing with the kind of people who enjoy this kind of gameplay. The game looks fun, I love the art style and the characters, but what if everyone’s an asshole and I get yelled at? Is there even lore, any kind of story?

Did I mention the one time I installed League of Legends, because my friend Caitlin told me about it excitedly? I downloaded it, created an account and…never played. I had no clue how to play, knew there were bot games, but feared that people on my team might be mean. In retrospect I am glad I never play. I read about all sorts of toxic players, and I seriously do not need any toxicity like that in my life. As consequence, I also skipped Heroes of the Storm. As I don’t play Hearthstone, I can honestly say that my days as Blizzard fangirl are over. I wouldn’t even want to go to Blizzcon, if I got free tickets.

This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy playing with people. I mean, a large part of my life are tabletop and board games, but I get to choose who I play those with. I also enjoy video gaming with friends. On New Year’s Eve, I stayed at my friend’s house, and I played couch co-op games on the PS4 with her and her boyfriend til 5 am. I really enjoy couch co-op. My SO and I play Divinity: Original Sin (we really need to continue playing that), and Diablo 3 with friends is fantastic. But even with Diablo 3, I like to duck my head and just solo my way through it. In a way I am glad there is no season gameplay on consoles. I would feel forced to group up to level quickly.

I think a lot of hermit tendencies come from fatigue. 2015 was not a good year for being a proud video gamer, with all this Gamergate and SJW bullshit. It’s filled my head with pre-conceived notions of ragey, douchey people out there who are just looking for an excuse to lord over lesser gamers. I see people like Jasyla posting video content and getting the shittiest comments, and it’s making me want to stick with games where I am all by my lonesome self.

Is this a phase that multiplayer games are king of the world? People are so competitive. There’s a reason I never did any PvP in WoW after TBC. I fear this multiplayer > all is not just a trend, and this means that gaming becomes far less interesting for me. There’s still a lot of other games, sure. But I like to be swept up by hype and actually feel it. Sitting on the other side of the playground fence is not that great.

But this might just be me, a mediocre gamer who likes games with deep lore and story.

Am I the only recluse?

6 Comments

  1. We still have a way to go before we can have a similar experience to the face-to-face video gaming we used to enjoy as kids. I feel the same way a lot of times. Even with the option to voice chat, I want to see people’s expressions when I interact with them.

    Nonetheless, Overwatch has been really fun for the day that I played so far. If I can find a regular group of friends to learn and get better with, I will probably dive into it.

    As we get older, I think our need becomes much simpler and sometimes we just want to enjoy the company of the few that we know really well.

    I think that’s fine and natural. As long as you’re still finding the fun, keep playing what makes you happy. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment! I think you’re right, it’s probably an age thing too. I just seem to have different gaming needs now, which means that playing with strangers to achieve pixel goals no longer has the appeal it once had. Playing with friends is still a fantastic thing, and I hope you can find a good group for Overwatch adventures. I will try the beta after dinner, now that it’s downloaded.

  2. I feel ya – there’s only so many new people you can meet online and be friends with. I’ve done it many times and there’s some old wow buddies I am still friends with, but in new MMOs it becomes harder and harder to maintain contacts, also because everyone is so nomadic.

    I am liking Overwatch a lot at the moment and I’ve just written about it being pretty beginner-friendly too, so I hope you enjoy it a bit more than some other shooters. We’re friends on battlenet, let me know if u want to join a party sometime, I am often teamed up. 🙂

  3. You’re definitely not the only recluse. I stay away from MMOs and team/competitive games for two reasons. First, because I just don’t want to play with other people. There are a number of reasons for this – they can be jerks, they can be worse than me and make me lose, they can be better than me and make me feel bad. When playing with friends or acquaintances who are pleasant to play with, there’s a sense of social responsibility to be on at certain times or to do certain things – since quitting WoW, I’m not interested in this. I do dip in and out of games like Heroes of the Storm, but usually end up uninstalling because of how disappointing people’s behaviour is.

    The second reason is that since quitting WoW, I really only want to play games that end. I’m not interested in games that could go on forever, that have no end state. There are so many interesting things to play and I’d rather see one story play out and move on to the next one than spend weeks, months, or years, on the same game.

    • It is so good to know that I am not alone out here. When you mostly follow a bunch of ex-WoW players, it’s easy to feel weird about this urge to play alone now. I played WoW for ten years. That’s enough playing with strangers to last me a lifetime. I mean, I probably will check out Legion when it’s released but right now it’s almost impossible for me to believe I was really into raiding 2-3 times a week. That’s important me-time that I need for myself these days.

      Give me a 20-30 hour with a great story, or an RPG like The Witcher 3 and I am happy.

  4. You are not the only one! Reading this definitely gave me a sense of vindication. I *hate* the trend of multiplayer. I can’t think of anything worse than playing multiplayer, I’m sick of the way games are all trending toward multiplayer now, completely forgetting the power they have in art and storytelling, in characters and motivations. Now we all pay attention to whether Tracer shows her ass or not, because since Blizzard isn’t bothering to develop her into a deeper character, what more is there than her skills and how she looks. MOBAs have characters, all with no character. Even in MMOs, which I really enjoy, I’ll stay away from multiplayer dungeons. The only time I visit them is when I’m in a group of people I know, so I’m at least glad for the MMO trend toward the soloist.

    But no, you’re not alone, on all fronts I agree with you 100%. Gaming is turning competitive, and everyone wants a piece of that Pro-Gamer pie. For those of us who just aren’t that competitive (or enjoy it only among friends), gaming is losing it’s lure.

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