A strange thing has happened, but I can't say that it's uncommon in the industry: Once my workload decreased, my gaming MMO habits changed. I have been sort of reset to the position I was in before I worked so much for this site, back to when I was a silly blogger who wrote and played just for fun.
Allow me to explain.
So moving into games writing was natural. MMOs quickly became my favorite topic because I loved the fact that they were a virtual world, a place to meet people from all over. They were bigger and more interactive than a chat room (kids, ask your parents about AOL's chatrooms in the '90s!) and allowed me to explore unknown worlds, languages, and species. To this day I get excited to explore an MMO. That hasn't changed.
What has changed is the fact that before I was paid to write about MMOs, the games were simply part of my hobby. I had other hobbies, but MMOs provided something that those other hobbies never did. Because I didn't have to write about my favorite games, I found that I was able to dedicate myself to one if I wanted to, but I could also move on at any moment. In the end I developed a playstyle that was loose but dedicated. I often subscribed (kids, ask your parents about maintaining several subscriptions!) to a few MMOs at one time. Free-to-play didn't really hit until 2006 or 2007, and when it did, most of the titles offered were grindy Eastern models, the kind we suffered through before they were designed as nicely as Western MMOs.
Flash forward to now, to a market filled with many titles from all sorts of different genres. We also have pseudo-MMOs, MOBAs, social games, mobile games, console MMOs, and everything in between. Technology, better computing, and faster internet have made an MMOs and multiplayer games more of a default design. It's simply easier to host more players than it was before. (Please note that I did not say it was easy, just easier!) Now we have markets like Steam offering wonderful indie titles that can connect players to each other in a relatively streamlined fashion. In other words, multiplayer or virtual world fans have never had it better!
As I began to write about more and more titles for Massively, I found that it became harder to make time to dedicate myself to one game. It's not as if I ever wanted to dedicate myself to one game, but the option to spend extra time in one world has not been as available to me over the last four years, save for weekends.
Does this mean I have found myself glued to one game for days at a time? No, not really. What it means is that I am not as twitchy when I am playing an MMO. I do not feel the urge to download and play every single game I come across. I feel as if I can breathe a bit more, but just a bit, and take more time to explore, roleplay, and play.
See, writing about games is not as simple as it might sound. There's a certain level that a writer has to strive for, a typical amount of detail that, unless reached completely, can lead to feelings of guilt. It's an odd thing, really; I can be in the middle of a fine adventure and feel panicked because I'm not writing down skill details or taking screenshots. It's a fun way to make some cash, but the best way to ruin a good hobby is to make a job out of it.
The point is that when you do something for so long -- like writing about MMORPGs -- it's easy to forget just why you started doing it in the first place. Honestly, I've never reached the point of severe burnout like many writers or gamers I know, and for that I am lucky, but it's been really nice to explore an MMO without worrying about what the comments might say.
Every Saturday, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, mobile, classic, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!