Commutes

One hour to office
Another hour back home
Eight percent of day

Welcome to the height of my poetry, which of course needs to involve numbers and patterns. During today’s commute I started reflecting on the things that don’t… spark joy. 10 hours a week in crowded transit is definitely one of them.

Loosely reminds me of a concept I used to chat about ages ago (pre-developer time > 15 years) with online friends, “preparing to have fun“. The idea that game features can be used as a carrot-on-a-stick to entice gamers to stick with a game for a longer period of time while forcing a highly-repetitive “grind” of time-investment before they can access these things.

It’s all a matter of perspective, I mean, as a child I’m sure I killed the higher end of 3 digits worth of Dragon Quest Slimes in the NES Dragon Warrior, them level-up stat points giving me all the reward required to keep slaying until I felt confident I could smash through the next thing. Today various idle games have kept me coming back waaaaaay more than I would’ve ever expected to.

That said, weapon skill grinding for hours in an MMO before getting to use that shiny new toy? Double to triple digits of hours invested before I get to enjoy the competitive portion of the game (and start actually building my strategy and skill that can only occur after the peak vertical progression point has been hit)? Many no-thanks. Games are primarily entertainment, and after turning over our dollars or choosing to invest our time it seems like we should be offered more than just the promise of fun later.

When I’m playing games, I know that feeling of preparing to have fun distracts me from the joy of playing, so while developing it’s something that I keep in mind. I like to view the pace of feature introduction in any game through both the lens of on-boarding and as a reward mechanism, I feel they go hand-in-hand quite well. “Hey! Congratulations, you’ve shown a level of mastery with what we’ve shown you, here’s more complexity” vs. looking backwards with a target and dolling out features in an attempt to hit that XX’th hour of gameplay.

Preparing to have fun is a lot like a commute. It’s a necessary time investment forced upon you to get to the thing you actually want to get to. When it comes to my own entertainment, I have options, and I tend to go with the one without the commute to fun.

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