I initially started playing Lord of the Rings Online (Lotro) a few years ago because I was researching video/online game addiction and figured I should play some to really understand the subject. Well, I finished the research and created a continuing education class which I even got payed for presenting (more than once!), and kept playing Lotro.
For a while the game was rewarding. I Felt like I was achieving things, the graphics were cool and I was having fun. But, it was a time suck and was getting in the way of other things. I stuck with it because I like fantasy and it was fun, for a while.
Then, as usual, life happened. Events came up and I stopped playing for a week. When the week was over I realized I was less willing to go back than I had been. Sure, I was achieving things in game, but a lot of that was me saying “I want to do this”, creating a goal and then achieving it. I had reminded myself that I can do that off line too (and when I do it with real world stuff I get less flack from my wife!).
The bigger issue however, wasn’t the in-game goals versus real world goals, or even the time suck… I realized what I had liked most was stories. I realized that I was just using the game system as a recording system for where a character was. I tended to push the bounds of what the system could do in that I was creating my own goals and stories about my characters rather than following established quest lines. “HEY! I’m trying to tell my own stories, even in this game!” and that realization was the moment Lotro quit being fun. I realized that I was just plain more interested in telling my own stories than in trying to “live” the story lines some game writer had created.
The reality is, any online game has inherent limits in what you can do. I’m not meaning to bag on game designers here, it’s just reality that they can’t foresee everything that another creative person will want to do. Even if they could, the computers just can’t handle it, you’d need a live game master (as in, like, old school face to face role playing…). The more I thought about it, the more I realized (or remembered) that, to me, role play has always been about making stories. If I’m going to make stories, I might as well make my own.
This is not to say that Lotro has bad stories, only that it is limited in it’s story interaction/creation ability and that I’d really rather make my own stories. So there it is, for me it’s the story. The game isn’t bad, it’s just that I’d rather tell my own story.
Games can be a good break from other things, but when they get in the way (like when they keep me from telling my own stories) they can be a problem. Choose what’s best for yourself and go that way dear reader.
Well, that’s it for this post. Till next time, Live your own story!