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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus neema_t's Avatar
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    Why I think I play games

    I've been thinking about why I play games recently. This is probably because I moved in with my girlfriend last year which means the hovel I'd fashioned* to allow me to use my G27 or HOTAS has been replaced with one of those dining tables with folding wings and I rarely get opportunities to play where I'm ok to just be immobile for a few hours, so I don't have the same relationship I had with it before when I was studying, "studying" or just plain mopey.

    Then I started playing Need For Speed 2015, the day after I found myself looking for a project car (a Fiat Panda 100hp specifically, I still think they could be really fun with the right suspension, tyres and wheels), even though I can barely afford more than food, rent and travel on my salary. It then occurred to me that I like having projects. My work involves multiple small projects that take somewhere between zero minutes to tens of hours and I really enjoy it, time between projects is boring. Before that, I did electronics as a hobby, where I'd start a project and then drop it as soon as I stopped having fun or learning something.

    Then it occurred to me again - my favourite games are ones that can be projects. I played the shit out of Elite Dangerous until it got boring because developing my ships was a project, I played nearly 800 hours of Borderlands 2 because there was so much to achieve (even if it wasn't all interesting or useful) but also because managing the inventories of my six characters was a project - I had a spreadsheet and everything. Payday 2, where every gun can be a project (and yeah, I put a lot of effort into gaming the loot system to give me parts for a maximum concealment CAR-4). Need For Speed: Shift, haven't played it in years but I still love my Works AE86 because I stuck with it for ages and built it up. I could go on. Oh and I just bought another SSD for my PC which is now my surrogate project car to compliment the virtual project cars in (the 10 hour trial of) Need For Speed.

    So that's it really, I just wanted to write that to make it make some sense outside of my head.


    *Which, amusingly, was a multi-year project itself.
    :emofdr:

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by neema_t View Post
    I've been thinking about why I play games recently. This is probably because I moved in with my girlfriend last year which means the hovel I'd fashioned* to allow me to use my G27 or HOTAS has been replaced with one of those dining tables with folding wings and I rarely get opportunities to play where I'm ok to just be immobile for a few hours, so I don't have the same relationship I had with it before when I was studying, "studying" or just plain mopey.

    Then I started playing Need For Speed 2015, the day after I found myself looking for a project car (a Fiat Panda 100hp specifically, I still think they could be really fun with the right suspension, tyres and wheels), even though I can barely afford more than food, rent and travel on my salary. It then occurred to me that I like having projects. My work involves multiple small projects that take somewhere between zero minutes to tens of hours and I really enjoy it, time between projects is boring. Before that, I did electronics as a hobby, where I'd start a project and then drop it as soon as I stopped having fun or learning something.

    Then it occurred to me again - my favourite games are ones that can be projects. I played the shit out of Elite Dangerous until it got boring because developing my ships was a project, I played nearly 800 hours of Borderlands 2 because there was so much to achieve (even if it wasn't all interesting or useful) but also because managing the inventories of my six characters was a project - I had a spreadsheet and everything. Payday 2, where every gun can be a project (and yeah, I put a lot of effort into gaming the loot system to give me parts for a maximum concealment CAR-4). Need For Speed: Shift, haven't played it in years but I still love my Works AE86 because I stuck with it for ages and built it up. I could go on. Oh and I just bought another SSD for my PC which is now my surrogate project car to compliment the virtual project cars in (the 10 hour trial of) Need For Speed.

    So that's it really, I just wanted to write that to make it make some sense outside of my head.


    *Which, amusingly, was a multi-year project itself.
    Thanks for sharing. Glad you did.

    Because I think we might play games for the same reasons. Or near enough as to make no difference.

    I discovered recently that I liked having projects, as well. I would mod Bethesda games and never play them. I just liked to mod. I would play games for hours just to assemble and test loadouts - only to immediately tire of them and move on to the next "project."

    I've reached a point now where I dont even play story driven games any longer. I prefer my stories to come from books and movies and shows. So many good shows now. Most of the games I play now are project games: ETS2/ATS, for customizing trucks and building my trucking company. Elite, for reasons you mentioned. Warframe, to test the enormous number of loadouts available in that game.

    Makes me wonder if i should simply seek from non gaming, productive projects that appeal to me...

    Thanks again for sharing.

  3. #3
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    I play different games for a lot of different reasons.

    I do play games as projects - i.e. have some sort of somewhat open-ended goal, and spend hundreds of hours on the game. For example, 400 hours on Skyrim, and most of that was just starting over with different characters after having installed tons of mods to make the game awesome (I would imagine I have dozens of hours selecting, installing and tweaking mods, too). I've never even finished Skyrim. Another example would be most of my Path of Exile characters, which are effectively projects where I level up and gear up a character until they "work", and then most cases I just start over with a different character (a few are so fun I keep going). Gran Turismo used to do this for me too, before it to got too realism-obsessed (to hell with your damage model!).

    But I also play games for simple fun, without a specific long-term goal - recently Valdis Story: Abyssal City, a rather fun little metroidvania, wherein I rediscovered the simple pleasures of solving simple timed jumping puzzles and using new abilities to get to places I hadn't been able to get in. Or Doom. I actually kind of hate the upgrades in Doom because they seem to get in the way of playing the game, which is the fun part.

    Then some games I play with a sort of strong immersion in the story/characters and where I like the gameplay, where I'm really into them, like the Mass Effect series, DE:HR and Dishonored - I desperately want to see what happens next and play what happens next too. SR:HK too, recently. Pillars of Eternity lacked the gameplay fun but I very much wanted to see where the story would go. But they're not projects, and when I finish them, I tend to stop playing them (ME3 was an exception, but solely because it had one of the best MP modes in the history of MP modes).

    Other games I play to well, play characters (I find myself especially doing this a lot if my tabletop RPG group hasn't met for a while). DA2 and DA:I are good for this, as is Fallout:NV and a few other games.

    There's other stuff going on too - some games I play just to play with friends, even if I would never normally play that kind of game (hello Borderlands series).

    One game that notably failed as a "project game" for me is Monster Hunter 4 on the 3DS (I know PC forum, but I'm mostly talking PC games so let's allow it), because whilst it clearly IS a project game, it's so difficult to find accessible, comprehensible information on what gear you want and how to get it and so on, and in-game it's particularly impossible to find that out that I just got bored of it, despite it having a lot going for it.

    Unlike Blackcompany I'm not really finding that there's enough out there in terms of TV, movies and books to keep me occupied. I mean, there surely is in theory, but often I'm not in the mood for TV (and I really hate a lot of the stuff people think is good but which is actually mediocre, imho, like House of Cards or The Walking Dead), movies take up to large of blocks of time, and I seriously read through like ALL the good books that I'm interested in and then I just don't have any books left that I definitely want to read, only ones I kind of might but not sure... Plus really good TV I always want to share with my wife which slows down how fast I can consume it. And anyway I think the stories some games tell are more engaging than those in other media anyway. Maybe not objectively better - almost certainly worse - less original, less deep, etc. - but more engaging nonetheless.
    Last edited by LexW; 13-07-2016 at 10:57 PM.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    Lots of different reasons here, too, though less of some and more of others. I play games with some kind of narrative element for their stories, mostly (uh, as more frequent posters here can probably guess), desperately hoping I'll find some that live up to the hype, and/or my lofty expectations. Or playing stuff I've seen people praise, to see if I think they deserve it. I do dabble with other stuff, though, projects for the sake of projects, or seeing if I can improve my skills in some way before I get too much older, or multiplayer with other human beings now and again, or just pure escapism.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eight Rooks View Post
    Lots of different reasons here, too, though less of some and more of others. I play games with some kind of narrative element for their stories, mostly (uh, as more frequent posters here can probably guess), desperately hoping I'll find some that live up to the hype, and/or my lofty expectations. Or playing stuff I've seen people praise, to see if I think they deserve it. I do dabble with other stuff, though, projects for the sake of projects, or seeing if I can improve my skills in some way before I get too much older, or multiplayer with other human beings now and again, or just pure escapism.
    Yeah I think I do most of those too. Another thing is that I might want varied levels of emotional intensity/engagement in playing a game. I mean, stuff like ME2/DA2/Dishonored can actually get almost emotionally overwhelming for me (not like weeping on the floor, but just like, I might decide to not play it for a day or a week). It's a sufficiently intense experience on a variety of levels.

    Whereas something like Doom doesn't engage my totality in the same way those games do, just a sort of lower level, which makes it a kind of lighter fun. Like I could play it whilst listening to Radio 4 and actually appreciate what was being said AND play properly. Notably a really huge proportion of games I played growing up engaged at this level.

    And project-games tend to be lighter still, in terms of engagement - there might be moments of higher tension and engagement - but they tend to be brief, and it's mostly steady work. It's these games I could most see myself dropping, I think - but in favour of what? Books/TV aren't the same thing. I don't get to interact. So it'd need to be something like writing more adventures for my tabletop RPGs or something, but again that's different and, frankly, a lot harder work!

    Oh and there's also "See what happens!" games like Dwarf Fortress. I know you hate those filthy generated narratives being treated as if they have value, but I dunno man, I get a real kick out of seeing what happens in a game of DF, and whilst the narrative is obviously not going to be as good as even a mediocre book, it may well be hysterical or really out-there in ways a book won't be, and it'll be mine, shaped by the dumb, dumb decisions I made. Sometimes you just want to drop a rock in the water and watch the ripples. I kind of feel like this is an insufficiently tapped niche for games, myself.
    Last edited by LexW; 13-07-2016 at 11:29 PM.

  6. #6
    Network Hub Viral Frog's Avatar
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    I play a variety of games, most for different reasons. My favorite genre is the roguelike/roguelite/roguelikelikelike/whatsisaroguelikeanywaylikelike. I like them because they're easy to jump in and out of. This is key for me as I've grown older. I have three kids, work full time, have a new girlfriend that I think I might really like, and just can't spend the time I used to on games anymore.

    The other reason is that they provide me with anecdotes. So many anecdotes in their beautiful, unscripted glory. I tend to ignore the story in any roguelike as I play (although I do find interest in the lore of the games), because I prefer to craft my own unique story. I give every character on every new run a different personality. Different classes and playstyles, if the game itself allows for such a thing. I create my own reasons for my quest. I am in full control of whatever it is that I want to imagine my character is getting themselves into. It's like reading a really great book. Except that the book is being written to your specific desires as you read it. They allow me to be in control of the story. They get my imagination flowing. That's why I prefer playing games in the roguelike genre.
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  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    I just try to distract myself from the churning soulless void of reality, and it helps keep the voices at bay.




    Also I guess games can offer engaging bite-sized challenges to overcome while exploring interesting environments that aren't necessarily bounded by the laws of nature or what we can build in real physical spaces. And they can be great vehicles for interesting ideas, stories, art and all that kind of stuff that enriches the human experience. And a fun and convenient way of spending time with other people. So I guess there are many different reasons to play different games, but mostly it's the first thing.

  8. #8
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    I tend to prefer strategy/RPG/sandbox games that you can spend a lot of time immersing yourself in, replaying in different ways, reading discussions about on forums, etc. Possibly similar to why these days I prefer finding a good TV series than watching a dozen new movies, of which I only enjoy or actually finish 2 or 3. My movie experience tends to be replicated in games, so many of which I only play for a couple of hours and consign to the never to be completed backlog. I often seem to buy games hoping that they will be one I can dedicate a lot of time to, but very few make the grade. To use another analogy it's sometimes like the choice between wearing your favourite comfortable old shoes or a pair of shiny new ones, which are uncomfortable at first and you don't know whether you'll get used to.

    None of this is about value for money, which seems a prevalent reason for game purchase choices these days, at least from what I gather from Steam reviews. I still like a lot of short games, eg replaying Max Payne 3 recently was like watching a movie I really enjoyed (even though I loathe the voiceover and cinematics of that game and only like the actual gameplay).

    What I really dislike is the artificially extended game time you get in Ubisoft games, Mad Max, etc., that seem to be designed that way purely so that they can say that the game completion time is 30-40 hours, instead of just making it a really enjoyable 15 hours experience with no filler. Admittedly a similar problem occurs with a lot of TV series.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    Oh and there's also "See what happens!" games like Dwarf Fortress. I know you hate those filthy generated narratives being treated as if they have value, but I dunno man, I get a real kick out of seeing what happens in a game of DF, and whilst the narrative is obviously not going to be as good as even a mediocre book, it may well be hysterical or really out-there in ways a book won't be, and it'll be mine, shaped by the dumb, dumb decisions I made. Sometimes you just want to drop a rock in the water and watch the ripples. I kind of feel like this is an insufficiently tapped niche for games, myself.
    I play dungeon crawlers a bit on emulators (I prefer the Japanese variety, I haven't found one on Steam/GOG I'm confident about committing to, and I'm pretty much broke at the moment anyway). I greatly enjoy watching as yet another run through some Mystery Dungeon game or other spirals hopelessly out of control, for example. It's true, I do still think your disgusting user-generated stories are inherently inferior to glorious hand-crafted narratives! And your enjoyment of them as "yours" has no meaning as part of the bigger picture! ...but I'm nothing if not a giant hypocrite, so eh, sometimes even I just want to let the dice fall where they may. :P
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skalpadda View Post
    I just try to distract myself from the churning soulless void of reality, and it helps keep the voices at bay.
    That's funny... for me it's the voices that tell me to do the things I do. Which they constantly tell me to 100% classic games for some reason, which sometimes makes me feel like I'm stuck in a churning soulless void of reality. Odd how things can be so similar yet so different..



    I'm actually only a little crazy :D

  11. #11
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    I like projects and planning too (I actually need to delete some of my Dark Souls characters to make room for new ones... pesky save limit), but I think the biggest reason I play are virtual worlds. Give me a game with a good explorable world and decent gameplay and I will sink in it for hours.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    To hold back the melancholy.

    EDIT. This is also the case with smoking.
    Last edited by Zephro; 14-07-2016 at 12:42 PM.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus TheDreamlord's Avatar
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    Escapism, imagination tinkling, active entertainment, just plain love them.

  14. #14
    Obscure Node harlequin's Avatar
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    Nice write-up, and something I can relate to as well - though I can't put myself through the work of theorycrafting and working out a game's nuances if it's single-player, bar some extreme exceptions. Gaming for me is a mixed bag of social interaction, when I play online games with my friends or something local with my girlfriend, storytelling and doing things that are challenging on a game-level.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    I'm not sure why I play games, but it's 100% not for having projects.

    I keep trying to get into games where you need to have projects, and failing. Then wondering what that says about my self-motivation and personality.

  16. #16
    To screw with people creatively, and to be screwed with creatively, be it by multilayer or the designer of the game.

    The antagonistic, or better yet ambivalent encounters with others allow the stress of the outside world a safe vector, you'll in, you'll lose, but there is always room for artistry.

    This art, this creative conflict is so much of where life's rewards exist, getting that in a game is approaching as rewarding as the real thing with non of the hazard.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus L_No's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    I'm not sure why I play games, but it's 100% not for having projects.

    I keep trying to get into games where you need to have projects, and failing. Then wondering what that says about my self-motivation and personality.
    Not a lot, I think. I never really get into project-type games too. It's not that I would be unable to finish them, but I have plenty of projects to finish in my day job. When I'm unwinding by playing games I really don't want to deal with more projects. The only vaguely project-resembling game I play is Flight Simulator X - I like to recreate flights I took in real life, or look up maps and charts to plan realistic tours of countries or areas I've been to. The main reason I play games is because I enjoy exploring, and a lot of games offer exploration in spades. It's why I like action or adventure games and sims more than hardcore strategy for example - I just want to look at the digital scenery.
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  18. #18
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    To be honest, every RPG which allow for various builds is some sort of project, especially these with party.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GameCat View Post
    To be honest, every RPG which allow for various builds is some sort of project, especially these with party.
    Potentially but in some cases the project-ness is effectively suppressed. Particularly so if you don't plan your build or or those of other characters, and are more interested in following the story/characters than building your character up. I finished DA:I fairly recently and I found it a lot more fun AFTER I stopped really getting anything meaningful from leveling up (or really gearing up), and thus having to think about what I didn't have and so on, and could just play.

    Similarly Dark Souls - whilst obviously I was getting stronger and upgrading gear and so on, it never felt like my project-RPGs do, because I didn't have goal beyond "WIN THE GAME" or even just "SURVIVE ALL THIS BULLSHIT". There were moments of project-y-ness, gather the last few ingredients for an upgrade or whatever, but it was very much secondary to the more how to put it... in-universe goals.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wenz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    To hold back the melancholy.

    EDIT. This is also the case with smoking.

    You kind of end up with detritus in both cases tho

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