Sunday, March 26, 2006

What holds interest?

The obvious question to ask at the end of that last post, of course, is: Well, what WOULD keep you interested?

A genuine emotional connection. Gameplay that encourages savoring, rather than speeding through. Contact with other humans. An opportunity to interact with real people meaningfully and explore my own self, rather than arbitrary role-play.

That all sounds pretty damn airy-fairy, but I'm not necessarily describing Fully Self-Actualized Group-Hugs in Unicorn Land. Even Counter-Strike, as laughable as it may sound, provided most of that stuff for me.

In CS, that feeling of hunting and being hunted completely sucked me into the game. If I was killed in-game, it genuinely made me upset, and while I was waiting for the round to finish so I could come back to life, I had some hilarious/interesting/puerile conversations with fellow dead players.

The interesting thing about that example is that role-playing has nothing to do with CS at all. The game mechanics just happen to provide a slot of time where you have nothing better to do than talk to your fellow players.

I was frustrated with World of Warcraft after playing it for a while. Eventually I realized that it had been so easy to go through the initial parts of the game without much social interaction, that by the time I got to where I needed the help of other players, I resented that I couldn't just go off and play by myself.

I'm not saying I know what the answer is, and the problem is a tough one to solve. I just think the problem is a different one than I used to think it was.


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