Sunday, October 23, 2005

Time is Not on my side.

Lately, I've been losing interest in playing WoW. I started playing during the stress test over a year ago. About the same time I was tiring of City of Heroes. I had been playing that for about a year, and was quickly becoming tired of the monotony that is CoH. Although it's interesting to make new characters and design their funky outfits, the quests are carbon copies of each other, just scaled based on level. Some of the powers are neat, like flying, super jumping, mind controlling, but also get tiring. How many times have you jumped to the top of the tallest building? How many times have you flown over an area of the city? Yawn. How many times have you seen the insides of the same warehouse, the same cave, the same... well, I think you get my point.

Unfortunately, I've found that WoW has its own mundane traps. It's the same in every game. It's the "grind." For the first few weeks, you grind levels. Then you grind for items. Grind for reputation. Grind for elite items. Grind for elite mounts. Grind for gold. Grind for sets.

The only exception to this I've seen was on a roleplaying server I joined. Many individuals and some groups there were genuinely interested in role playing. It was interesting, and gave me some hope. But when I mentioned in my newfound (now ex-) guild (on the RP server) that maybe we should get together and do some guild roleplaying, I got the same response from nearly everyone in the guild, including the leader: "Sorry, too busy leveling."

How many times have you heard that? Me? Too many.

Has the social aspect of the game been ground down to level and item grinding? If you can't help me get my set items, bugger off!

Well, this rhetoric isn't really the point of my topic. It's more of a background. It's based on opinion and point of view. Many players have an entirely different experience playing these games.

However, my true point is not opinionated. It's all based in fact, with numbers, even. It's an analysis of the number of hours I've been playing WoW (since retail), and what I could have been doing during those hours if I hadn't played online games. The time period covered is about one year. Basically since the day retail came out last November till today.

Protected Character Name (Level): /played Time [total minutes for character]

Lightning's Blade:

  • M1 (31): 3 days, 15 hours, 23 minutes [5243m]
  • M2 (1): 0 days, 15 hours, 40 minutes [940]
  • Y (42): 8 days, 22 hours, 29 minutes [12840]
  • P (60): 28 days, 21 hours, 38 minutes [41580]


  • A (17): 0 days, 20 hours, 0 minutes [1200]
  • B (6): 0 days, 16 hours, 45 minutes [1005]
  • P (59): 19 days, 21 hours, 29 minutes [28649]

Shadow Council:

  • V (3): 20 minutes [20]
  • A (44): 10 days, 0 hours, 48 minutes [14448]
  • M (4): 0 days, 2 hours, 46 minutes [166]

Twisting Nether:

  • A1 (10): 0 days, 8 hours, 52 minutes [532]
  • L (22): 1 day, 22 hours, 15 minutes [2775]
  • A2 (23): 1 day, 9 hours, 24 minutes [2004]

Total minutes
: 111,402

Total hours
: 1,856.7

Total days: 77.3625

Average daily hours: 5.09

Total number of 40 hour work weeks: 46.42

If I make $5 net per hour: $9,283.50

If I make $10 net per hour: $18,567

If I make $20 net per hour: $37,134

This shows why I'm considering quitting WoW. And maybe all RPGs.

A few main reasons. One, I could be making an extra 10 to 37 THOUSAND dollars per year. (Yeah, that's if I spent all that time working). But I do have mad skills, and can do a certain amount of freelance work.

Two, just think of what else I could be doing with all that time, and the potential benefit I could gain... tangible benefit!

That's my problem with these online games. No real benefit. Other than entertainment. I mean, for entertainment, it rocks. It's interactive, ever-changing, and obviously holds my interest. But do I really need that much entertainment?

Let's compare this entertainment to some other activities:

  • How many 2-hour movies could I have seen in all that time? 928
  • If it takes me about a week to read an average book, about two hours per day, how many books could I have read? 132
  • How many 1/2 hour walks through the park? 3,713
  • How many four-hour kayak rides? 464
  • How many three-hour plays could I have seen? 618
  • Number of foreign language courses (6 hours per week, 6 weeks) I could have taken? 51
  • Number of professional articles I could have written (2 hours per day for 1 month)? 30
  • If I averaged just $5 net per hour for working during those hours, how much extra cash would I have in my pocket right now? $9,283.50

What’s my point here? I really have to rethink my habits, my life, my choices.


Anonymous Billtrollo said...

I've often thought about the same things as you have. Although, I've not taken the time to do a study of my time spent, which would surely depress me. Ignorance is bliss, afterall. But, yeah even WoW got boring. You can max out your character in the shortest time for any MMORPG. Which I think is actually a drawback. At first, I thought it a plus. But endgame content is boring. If I wanted PVP with ppl all the same level as me I would just play Halo 2 on Xbox live. It is much more fun and very little prep time.

I believe blizzard is making a mistake in focusing on equipment grinding for high level content. Yeah, equipment is important (sort of), but I don't think in WOW in makes much of a difference. Individual skill and that of your teammates is what decides the day more often than not. Not equipment.
And so, I'm dissappointed that Blizzard thinks new dungeons and elusive purple equipment is the way to entertain lvl60 characters. Almost, all of my friends have cancelled their subs to WOW, and why? Because they are bored.

Most people that play RPGs do so, because of the goal oriented play and the story. I've yet to find any MMO with a truly compelling story. Maybe, because if I'm going to read, I prefer books to dialog boxes. And all MMOs are too big for voice dialog from all of its NPCs. So, if the story isn't making me continue, then it is the leveling. So, then when that is done... then what? I move to a different game. A different experience.

I did enjoy my time with WoW and will most likely re-activate my account once the expansion comes out in 2007 or 2008.

However, I do believe it is a mistake to believe you could have earned money with the recreation time you used on the game. Or even improved yourself in some way by taking a class. Alot of the time you spent on the game was most likely late evening, maybe even the wee hours of the morning. I don't know how many schools have class at 2AM, but I'm sure they are few and far between.

All humans need recreation, prehaps the time could be better spent, but you probably would have used that time in some other frivolous manner. So, you shouldn't beat yourself up too bad for the wasted time. You were bound to waste it somewhere on something.

Monday, October 24, 2005 8:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Tomas said...

Hmmm...I make more per hour than any of your existing examples in the money lost category - and have been for some years now...A fair bit more actually.

During the time that I was doing the Real Life grind to get there I did the following:

1) Skipped over 4 years of vacation
2) Danced with clinical depression
3) Bathed daily in worry and angst
4) Went to bed with depression
5) Made a fair bit of money
6) Forgot who I was

All in all, I agree that you can spend too much time doing *anything* and that time in many ways can be construed as wasted or ill-spent.

Because of that - I'm not going to comment on /played or the value or evils of MMO's or the like. It's all moot.

I hate my career and my job and parts of who I've had to become in order to get where I am today. I enjoyed very little of that journey.

Yet in my own real-life /played - I booked over 8 years of game time to grind it all out. 8 years.

What could I have done with that time?

WOW is as fun a diversion as I have been caught up with in a long time. It's not perfect and I'm more than capable of agreeing with every point you've made in every post thus far. Both positive and negative.

I know I play too much now and then and when I do I know to remind myself to throttle back and to learn from past lessons on obsessiveness. Sometimes I listen to that warning - sometimes not ;)

Starting WOW was (for me) kind of like when I rejoined the Army at age 32 (back in 2002). After grinding away at a professional management and IT career since 1996 - I didn't like what I did or who I was or where I was going. So I said to hell with it and rejoined the Army Reserve. I felt like the oldest Private in the system. But I felt better about myself and better about the time I spent doing the job.

It's 2005 now and I'm a Staff Sergeant. The time I spend grinding for Unky Sam is time well spent in my opinion - though he pays far less than my civilian career.

More importantly though - I feel younger, happier, and more balanced.

WOW was the first game I had played or bought in a long, long time. Being able to strip away my real life grind and the gray hair I've accumulated (and the responsibilities - etc, etc) is a relief. For the first time since I used to play Pen(cil) and Paper Role-Playing games for hours on end with my buddies - I felt like a kid again - and I was writing more - and I felt more like *me*.

I have to watch myself closely in order to not spend too much time playing. After all - too much of *anything* can be bad. WOW or work or a relationship. It can all come back to get you.

I applaud that you're taking the time to look at your life and re-evaluate where you are *today*.

The only advice I'd give is to not beat yourself up over any *percieved* wasted time. Everything you've done up to this point It was part of your own personal journey and will be important in shaping who you become tomorrow.

Moderation in everthing - even the good stuff. The time I spent with Ayae or Lucicity in game is time well spent and I know I'd be sad to see you hang things up. When you're around the coversation is more fun and we gain members faster than when you're gone. That said - you do what you need to do and don't worry about it.

There are far greater sins in life than enjoying a game and spending too much time playing it. Just don't let it become a diversion that keeps you from moving on.

I have loads more I could write about this - but I don't know that it would help. Each person's /played is something they have to come to grips with. What /works for me - might not for anyone else.

Monday, October 24, 2005 9:48:00 AM  
Blogger Psyae said...

I appreciate your comments.

I'm looking forward to more comments from others, but while waiting, I'll address the current ones.

Both of you have addressed my "earning money with recreation time" issue, and I wanted to clarify a few things (I should have clarified them in the original post, and may go back and edit it). First, I'm not at all saying I could definitely, positively have made money for every single one of those recreation hours. That's unrealistic. I just wanted to make the hours I spent playing games more tangible. I absolutely could have made some money for some of those hours. That's why I used different figures for hourly net pay. (And I hope Tomas realizes that I'm using net pay, not gross, when he compares his salary).

Tomas, I know you make more, but it's not the base salary at all that I'm talking about. It's the supplement to that salary. I look at my credit card balances, my student loans, etc., and every extra bit I can throw in the pit to help pay them off is tremendous -- especially considering the way interest rates work against high balances.

If you look at the average time per day spent, I very well could have taken a part time job, or attended certain classes. Bill, they do have Internet-based classes available, or even weekend classes. No need to force me to stay up till 2am every night to do that.

What I was hoping readers would infer from all the figures is that they can be combined in a variety of ways. This takes care of both of your noted issues. Bill, it makes it more realistic that I can take a few night/weekend classes. Tomas, it also makes it so that I can do that as well as take a part-time/night-time/weekend job, or take the time to pursue other means of extra income. I have done things in the past that are fun and actually pay. I just need to take the time to organize and advertise.

I agree, we all need recreation, or we'd go even more mad. You're also both right that I shouldn't beat myself up about it. However, since it's bothering me, I should do *something* about it. I'm working out what I need to do, and how I need to do it, but any advice or contributions would be nice.

Heck, I'll take donations to keep playing 5 hours a day! Hahah.


No, just kidding.

Unless you really want to.


Monday, October 24, 2005 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Tomas said...

I don't know - I know where you were going with the commentary - it's just that it's easy to get caught in the trap of equating time with money and I really, really don't want you to get too caught up in that.

Making better choices is always a good thing. Understanding where you've been and what you've done is excellent.

Just don't get so chewed up in your search for clarity that you end getting depressed from all that self-knowledge ;)

Obviously my own experiences and angst and issues are what cause me to react to your write up the way that I did.

I think what you're doing is healthy and understandable - just be careful of where it leads you.

Despite all the time we talk about WOW and enjoy our time walking different paths in the virtual world comes the fact that on the other side of the screen are people that aren't always happy with the RL choices they've made...

When it gets right down to it, I took the more trodden path - didn't realize I was doing it - and have regretted it ever since.

In the midst of all that work and the good/bad/ugly that came from it were a thousand self satisfied people wearing ties and uncomfortable shoes telling me how everything I ever enjoyed was a silly waste of time and how I should grow up and start doing something productive with that time.

It took me a while - but I finally decided to tell them to fuck off.

I guess that's why I tend to glare at anyone that tries to quantify their choices around a $ sign.

Yes - you absolutely *have* to have money to survive in this world - but don't get so wrapped around the pursuit of it that you lose yourself and your ability to enjoy the things that keep you up until 3am ;)

Monday, October 24, 2005 3:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Billtrollo said...

or just Bill...

I agree with Tomas. Money isn't the end all, be all. If it money IS that important to you, then you end up like so many millionaires, that still cry they don't have enough. There is never enough, if that is all you want.

I say enjoy life. Maybe cut back in some areas of your recreation and use that time doing something constructive. But be balanced in all things. Don't go replacing all your recreation with work or other supposedly more productive pursuits. Just some, and maybe pursue some different types of fun, rather than just playing MMOs.

Anyway, I wish you well on your endeavor to broaden your horizons and self-critisism. Just don't be so hard on yourself that you spiral down into depression. Because worring too much about money has lead many a good person there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 5:40:00 AM  
Blogger Psyae said...

I don't think I'd complain if I became a millionaire.

I mean, try me.


Give me the chance to be a miserable millionaire!

Honestly, though, I hope my post doesn't look like I'm "that" concerned about money. That's really not the point of the topic. Like I said, it's just a reference. The real point of the topic is "lost time."

But don't worry about me spiraling down in depression. Been there, done that, don't need to do it again.

In Tomas' list, the one that I think has the most long-term effect is #6 - forgetting who you are. Everything else we've discussed is, for the most part, curable. Money - comes and goes, oh well. Time - we "waste" it all the time, but with careful planning, you can make more out of your time. Vacation - take a few now. Depression, worry, angst - comes in at #2, but there are certainly solutions for all of that.

Losing sight of who you are - priceless. Better yet, too expensive. If you're doing something that causes you to lose that fundamental idea of "self," then you really need to pause and take stock of whether what you're doing is worth it. Unfortunately, most of us who get to that point realize it all too late, and a good number of years and personal development are forever lost.

I spent years in the military in that suspended state. Although I developed other skills and experiences, and would likely do it all over again, I miss who I used to be before that. I can only look back now and try to remember how I felt then.

Okay, enough of this... can't get all sobby at work.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 8:03:00 AM  
Blogger elzandra said...


If you aren't happy, do something else. But I'm not sure that is what you are saying, is it?

This is my first online RPG. When I started playing it, it seemed like the most wonderful game I had ever played. It engaged the seeker circuit, there were people to meet and accomplish tasks with, and I could be someone thrilling and exciting instead of plain wee me.

As I near 50 with my main character I am finding that the actual *game* part of WoW is, indeed, losing its punch for me. There is no engaging plot, as Bill has said. No true mysteries to solve, no compelling reasons that make me wish to smite evil.

There are many other things, however, that keep me playing. I love the virtual world and the graphics here. Azshara and Winterspring thrill me; I like to ride through just to experience the feel of a crisp autumn day or become giddy with anticipation of the snow that is about to fall. I am especially impressed with Un'Goro..which scares the [Revenant Leggings of the Gorilla] off of me.

Perhaps the most important thing that keeps me coming back is my friends here. I live a fairly suburban life: soccer mom would be an apt description. Not a ton of creativity and imagination there..unless I would like to come to a scrapbooking party? And drink weak Cosmopolitans (very chic) and gossip about the women not there?

I enter the portal into the realm and there are a world of imaginative, mostly intelligent people for me to meet. Who like fantasy worlds. And computer games.
Who see each other as *people*'s an automatic level social playing field. You are as funny, interesting, or competent as you want to be. I don't have to worry about changing out of my jammies on a Sunday morning to impress anyone, and I don't care if the person I am playing with is 13 or 50.

I have fallen in love here.

Relationships..meeting, making and trying to keep friends is what keeps me coming back. Could I be doing the same irl? I *am* doing the same irl. I just have a harder time meeting people that enjoy the same things that I do.

There *are* things missing from this game, and yes...the biggest hardship on my life when I play is the time that I spend. Tomas has exactly the right idea, however. Life isn't about producing and happiness definitely doesn't come from maximizing your gp.

I see this as another way I am learning to be human. Art, music, literature, languages, mathematics, spelunking, kayaking, parenting, hurting, laughing, loving. Any one of those can be an obsession, just as living in a virtual world can be.
Who's to say that one is better than the other? Balance, some have said, is the key to keeping our lives happy.

I don't know about that.

I see myself in Ayae's place eventually; perhaps a new game, or a new book or maybe a new career will become my joy. but right now, I *am* happy here and will take large bites of it until I am satisfied.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Psyae said...

If you think Un'Goro is scary, wait till you see Sithilus.

Well, of course, they changed it. I need to take a trip back to see how they modified it. I think I have at least two characters who can get there safely.

Thanks for your comments, Elz. As our Deadmines run last night shows, I'm not out of it yet.

And actually pretty good point about obsessing over other things. You're absolutely right about that. I think Tomas was referring to that, albeit with subtlety, when he mentioned focusing on work and career above all else. I do like to indulge. I think I've earned it. I've been through a lot. However, I also think I owe myself some objectivity. That's what this is all about, and thanks all for the various comments.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous tomas said...

You know, neurosis is always better when shared :)

The brilliance of WOW is that where other games enforce a plot hammer on you, Blizzard realizes that the most poignant plots are the ones hatched amongst friends and enemies in game.

When you lose the social aspect - when you lose the day to day drama - you can lose interest pretty quickly. That said - some more engaging storylines - maybe some cut scenes - that would go a long way in aswering the issues posed here that are game specific.

From some of your later comments there Psyae - I'd say we both are more alike is a lot of ways than I first realized. Funny. Scary too.

The thing that kicks me in the [Twisting Nether] the most is that everything that I described in my earlier posts was my own choice. So much of my own life has been proving to others that I could do everything they said I couldn't do. All these years later I finally realize that I should have been focusing on the things that make me - me.

Everything else is teh suk...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger elzandra said...

Tomas said:

>>So much of my own life has been proving to others that I could do everything they said I couldn't do. All these years later I finally realize that I should have been focusing on the things that make me - me.>>


Exactly. I was told I was bad at math and would never be a scientist.
Ok..I believed them. But was so pissy about it that I *taught myself* everything..including enough Calculus to get by. Then I got a Biology degree. Then I worked in genetics research. Yay! I was now obviously smart and Poo on them.

Only problem was..when it wasn't challenging anymore I lost interest. Not only that; research is lonely. Talk about grinding solo! The rewards in genetics are so..fleeting and confusing and often the discoveries fall into the "so what?" category. Like a big hive of bees, everyone's work will eventually have meaning..but all the little steps left me buzzing around itching for new pollen.

Then I got very very sick. Very.

That experience, and only that made me realize a few things; mainly that there is hardly time enough for anything..anything at all.

Do I make my mark upon the world? My vast and trunkless legs of stone shall be seen by whom?

I, like Tomas, am trying to do the things that let me explore who I am.
Volunteer work, family, friends make me the happiest. And I think I have found many of the latter right here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Wow! I have to say Psyae, that you inspire some very good commentary. That in itself is an impressive talent.

I say, that if by playing WOW, it caused you to meet these people, then you wasted very little time. And maybe that is the point. WOW and other MMOs have one very good point... they are social games. Where as, most other video games are anti-social and self indulgent. All of our interactions in this world, and it seems in virtual worlds, shape us.

Not to say that everyone you met in WOW was worth meeting, but you have met some good people. That is always worth while. So, that is definitly a positive you can take from your "wasted time".

I'm not sure what your point was, but just by going by its title, time is an enemy for all of us. I don't believe though that all of it was ever meant to be well spent. I say just be happy, look to the future, and don't live in the past. If you need change do so, if you don't, don't. IF you don't like all of your past choices, don't beat yourself up over it. Just resolve to choose better in the future and then work towards that goal.

I love history, and a lot can be learned from it. However, it is always being analyzed by people saying "what if". Which never matters, because the "what if" never happened. So learn from your personal history with WOW and use that knowledge to help yourself move forward, but don't say "what if".

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 7:22:00 PM  
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