BY LUCA D’ANGELO: Let’s not lie to ourselves; gaming, once a leisure activity to pass the time after school, is increasingly becoming more of a commitment if anything – and I’m not just talking about League of Legends or World of Warcraft-like MMORPGs.
It seems like many games are designed with psychology in mind first and foremost and fun second. As the cost of developing video games continues to rise, titles need to hold our attention for longer and have us spending money for longer in order to be viable. Then you have mobile games, capitalizing on the “forever at hand” nature of smartphones to encourage players to invest their time and money at every given opportunity as opposed to firing up their console and playing a AAA title.
This rant has roots back to 2015, when (much to my dismay) I discovered One Piece Treasure Cruise, a mobile MMORPG (whose categorization I still struggle to comprehend). Being a long-time fan of the franchise I just couldn’t resist downloading it. I quickly fell in love with and then abandoned the global version in favour of the more complete Japanese original version, triggered as well by my desire to play in a language I was studying at that time. During this time, I also managed to convince many of my friends to play the game, and together we built a miniature community, sharing our latest progress in specifically created group chats.
Nothing, and I mean nothing had us more absorbed than One Piece Treasure Cruise at that time, but as it got more popular, the developers began innovating. This is fine in principle, but what happened with this game, in particular, is there was too much innovation. This alienated our group and, as a result, three years later I’m one of two people still playing in our group.
Some innovation is healthy and positive for players, but Treasure Cruise gradually became more and more time-consuming. Without even us noticing, we’d be playing for several hours a day just to keep up. It became a requirement. If you didn’t play, then you fell behind and as a result, you wouldn’t have fun when you did have time to play. If you wanted to have fun, then you had to be committed – and this even stretched to spending real money. It’s a shame but many of the most famous and popular smartphone games eventually meet the same fate.
When I realized just how much of my time and money that this mobile game was demanding, I made the decision to step back. “Time to get back to my poor, neglected PS4,” I thought to myself. FINAL FANTASY XV undoubtedly still fascinates me to a point that I’d spend hours playing it – well, I would were it not for the fact it’s becoming quite stagnant due to a lack of new content (Royal Edition rage anyone?).
Long story short, I spent a good twenty minutes in front of my collection, unable to get myself to start a new game of any and eventually ending up bored and with my phone in my hand again.
This is the story of a tired gamer, trapped in limbo while trying (and failing) to resist the enticing (imaginary) lullaby from my smartphone that compels me to play games I’m on the verge of rage-quitting, drained of any will to spend time tending my teams.
Oh look, it’s finally stopped raining. Time to get out for a Pokémon GO walk. I wonder if there’s anything new..?