24

Second Job

January 3, 2022 by Tim

The holidays are over, and I’m feeling a little burnt out. Not just on the cooking and cleaning and hosting and all that stuff, but on the holiday events in the games I play as well.

Obviously, if I give two shits about an in-game event at all, it’s because I enjoy the game it’s part of in the first place. So it’s not as though I dislike these limited time events. They’re additional things in games I’m already playing anyway, that tend to offer unique cosmetics and bonuses. But they certainly can start to feel a bit like a chore sometimes; instead of “I think I’ll play a bit” it becomes “Oh, I have to play in order to complete this event before the time runs out.”

Read More ▼

And the more games you play (I play a few regularly), the exponentially more burdensome it can feel when these limited-time events start stacking up. Now don’t misunderstand me: I can choose not to participate in these at any point. Obviously nobody is forcing me. So I’m not calling these sorts of events out for any fault I have with them existing in general, more just making an observation about how easily a hobby, an escape, under specific circumstances, can start to mirror some of the qualities of a job. And some certainly do tend to respect the players’ time more than others.

I’ve certainly felt that way with some of the MMOs I’ve played in the past, when you reach endgame and suddenly “dailies” become the grindy timesink to keep you occupied until the next content drop. “I need to do my dailies” is a phrase I’ve uttered on too many an occasion in the past, in a way that that hour (or whatever) of my day is already not mine to do with as I please; it’s an obligation masquerading as entertainment.

If you don’t like the game itself, this is obviously a non-issue. You just don’t engage. But it can be tougher when these things are ancillary attachments to something you otherwise enjoy. Sure, you can not do the event… but does that also mean you fall behind/feel like you missed out on the cool winter hat everyone else is wearing?

Its the responsibility of the player to manage is or her own time commitments, for sure. However I do think developers also need to try and strike a balance between engagement and content, and being respectful of their players’ time.

Read Less ▲


Subscribe
Notify of
guest
41 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sebastian
Sebastian
4 months ago

This reminds me about this article:
https://fischerdesign.medium.com/when-games-idolize-busywork-8454bfe769ff
Work you have to play.

John Swift
John Swift
4 months ago

Oh ya, its a chore but if its too easy then its kinda lame… I only ever did be bare minimum dailys in WoW classic TBC and cant recall the last time I even did a dungeon. Just started a 2nd long term mobile game and balancing events and dailys is going to be a problem. I wanted to start a PC game 2 days ago and havent had the time cuz im too busy learning and progressing in the new mobile game. But hey, its alot of fun and thats the point but once I have less free time,… Read more »

WereCatf
WereCatf
4 months ago

But they certainly can start to feel a bit like a chore sometimes; instead of “I think I’ll play a bit” it becomes “Oh, I have to play in order to complete this event before the time runs out.”

I know the feeling as I used to play World of Warcraft. I’ve since stopped playing all online-games and I, personally, think it was an excellent decision for my mental health. It took a certain kind of load off my shoulders to just accept that online-games and their hamster-wheels are bad for me and I’d be better off without them.

Mirra
Mirra
4 months ago
Reply to  WereCatf

I know that feeling. This “I have to play the game X otherwise I miss out on progress” can take over your brain. I used to juggle several live-service games and I dropped all of them once I realised I logged in just for the “I have to play” factor, not because I wanted to play. It wasn’t even that when I finished the mandatory stuff, I started enjoying myself. No, once I was done with the mandatory grind I had no desire to play something else in the game just for fun. The positive side is that once you… Read more »

TomB
TomB
4 months ago
Reply to  WereCatf

I’ve been around since PCs came into the world and consoles were the original Atari with super blocky video you played on an old school analog TV. My first moment of recognizing something cosmetic being given out in an online game was TF2 when they started giving out silly hats. Not only did I not want them, I wish they’d never given them to me and it wasn’t even onerous to get, I think I just recognized it was something meaningless to the game that was an attempt to keep people gaming and I recognized it as maybe something that… Read more »

ocramot
ocramot
4 months ago

Sure, you can not do the event… but does that also mean you fall behind/feel like you missed out on the cool winter hat everyone else is wearing?

I feel the same with all the game achievements, even in single player games. Or with the need to replay the same long game three times just to platinum it. Heck, I feel the same even when I have to watch the latest TV series everyone is talking about right now.

no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
4 months ago
Reply to  ocramot

I got so much happier playing games when I realized all the stupid crap I was doing to get pointless digital PNGs, and stopped doing it.

As for TV, that one solved itself: once it became a mess of streaming services, I just gave up. Oh you want me to watch Tiger King? Which one’s that on? Just kidding, I don’t subscribe to any of those things and I’m never going to.

Vedrit
Vedrit
4 months ago
Reply to  ocramot

Never underestimate the power of Fear Of Missing Out.

Eldest Gruff
Eldest Gruff
4 months ago

The only games-as-a-service games I play are on my cell phone, so I really have a hard time relating to “go do this menial task instead of having fun; there’s a deadline to get this limited-time skin with a silly hat.”

Ain’t nobody got time for that. My paid game starts doing that, it goes into backlog.

Mirra
Mirra
4 months ago

This is the reason I cannot get into most live-service games. Unless you play right from the get go, there are cool cosmetics that you cannot unlock anymore, for other cosmetics you have to wait another 8 months and those that are available are locked behind 1-3 arbitrary currencies. Basically, unless the game is played since day 1 and unless it’s played on-and-off all the time you don’t have access to the whole game. For example the final straw for Overwatch for me was having the cool PVE missions available only for a week once a year… I will keep… Read more »

Lord Denning
Lord Denning
4 months ago

“Respect players’ time” my ass. Most AAA companies don’t even respect the players, much less their time. You know the ones I have in mind.

TomB
TomB
4 months ago
Reply to  Lord Denning

They respect them in the way we carnivores respect the critters we eat. Mmmm…. delicious…. I think I’ll have another….

Bwauder
Bwauder
4 months ago

So true.
Anyone that has played any sort of MMO more than just casually has been there at some point, the pain is greater for you and others that have a spread of favourites, holidays become anything but if you are committed to your character/clans/tribes…

MasterofBalance
MasterofBalance
4 months ago

But it’s all worth it for that new hat that doesn’t enhance your gameplay in any meaningful way.

wkz
wkz
4 months ago

This especially happens in game with a cyclic nature and/or games focused on loot as progression. The current game that I suffer from is Escape from Tarkov, and while it is still early wipe days, I keep getting the urge to get one more flashdrive, kill more scav enemies, get more loot, built up more hideout stuctures, etc… And the Christmas event, as loopy and fun of a curve as it is right now, is just more of the same, only with different loot icons on top of the “must grab grubbins.” Thank god I weened myself off after 3… Read more »

Michael Bulmer
Michael Bulmer
4 months ago

That’s usually my metric when to stop playing a game. When I hit that moment of realization that I don’t get to do these daily tasks, but rather I have to is when I hang up a game. The whole idea for me is that I’m supposed to be enjoying it, and if it becomes an unpaid job, it’s time to stop playing.

David Ryan
David Ryan
4 months ago

This reminds me a lot of when I used to play Star Trek Online. Along with the various holiday and special events they introduced other daily tasks (collect a certain type of mineral, inflict a certain amount of specific energy weapon damage etc). After awhile I realised I wasn’t playing the game out of enjoyment but more for obligation. It’s put me off other big online games because I don’t want to get sucked into that hamster wheel daily grind again.

Kix Acelot
Kix Acelot
4 months ago

I still remember the day I was playing SW Galaxies and doing my dailies (checking harvesters, crafting buffs, etc., on multiple accounts with several spreadsheets tracking all sorts of data like location, cost, and profit) when my wife said something to the effect of, “It looks like your game is turning into your job.” I think I played for about 15 more minutes and never logged in again. From that day forward I have tried to not let games become chore like. Now I have kids who BEG me to let them on “for just five minutes” so they can… Read more »

David
David
4 months ago

It was easier to play a game as a job when I didn’t also have a job to do on the side. But like other posters have said, I have stopped playing most online games BECAUSE of this ‘chore list’ mentality. I don’t play mobile games (not that i’m missing a ton of content there), and the only play FF14 currently because i’m leveling / doing story content. (once I get to the “end-game” where you’re expected to grind for every item level, that’s when i’ll stop.) Being able to just say “NO!” to chore lists has made my gaming… Read more »

Anon A Mouse
Anon A Mouse
4 months ago
Reply to  David

Not to jump on the whole FF14 bandwagon but I feel the grindy end-game feels less “required” and more “available to those who want it”. There is a significant amount of randomness to do besides grind end-game content, most of which isn’t even close to end-game. Add to that, for better or worse, I don’t think I have ever really been “wow-ed” by their seasonal offerings, barring one or two, and have almost never used a seasonal item past getting it. Plus, they tend to add most if not all seasonal items to the cash store sooner or later making… Read more »

Lily
Lily
4 months ago

It is no wonder you feel that way, since they are specifically design to get you to play more. It feels like an obligation, because it is designed to be. You have a large backlog, so you know that just being ‘fun’ isn’t enough to keep someone hooked on a game, they got to manipulate people’s feelings and hook them against their will. That is where manipulation of dailies and stuff come from.

Sabre Runner
4 months ago

Totally. I hate timed events. I get that developers work on side content and hidden stuff not all players would see, as a reward for people going out of their way in game. But why time lock your content? It’s ridiculous. And I think Hitman is the worst offender I know

Kenju
Kenju
4 months ago

See, this is why I only bother with limited holiday events if it is something *really* good (like a free new character or weapons etc) or if it is doing something I am already doing anyways (play X number of games). The moment something you enjoy becomes work is the moment you stop enjoying it. Some games do it right, like Star Trek Online, literally you log in and do a short event for five minutes a day for 20 out of 40 days and you get a free ship that would normally cost you $50. It’s not difficult, you… Read more »

Meatballs21
Meatballs21
4 months ago

I had a little reminder of this crap with No Man’s Sky’s recent re-run of the four 2021 expeditions. They gave you two weeks or so, but they’re still time limited, and some of the objectives are pretty grindy, so I found myself going through the motions to just get them over with for the cosmetics rather than actually enjoying the adventure.

robloughrey
robloughrey
4 months ago

One of the most powerful tools in keeping people playing, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Muppet
Muppet
4 months ago
Reply to  robloughrey

Not just in games anymore, it’s everywhere in IRL as well !

Learning to detach is becoming a veritable non-trivial skill nowadays…

Arcanum
Arcanum
4 months ago

This is part of why I haven’t gone back to Destiny 2 for this season, and why I’m generally not interested in games that do “seasons” in which you’re starting from scratch every time.

Erika
Erika
4 months ago

I feel this deep in my bones. I think daily/event burnout is my number one reason for quitting games I enjoy. It’s like I get so stressed out by “keeping up with the Joneses” that it taints my enjoyment of the whole game, and my brain responds by quitting cold turkey instead of just playing more casually. This garbage even infects the offline single player games I like now- Animal Crossing has a ton of seasonal and holiday events, and even Satisfactory has a Christmas event. At least in those games you can usuallyrevisit events at your leisure via modding… Read more »

Michael
Michael
4 months ago

Why is he still wearing a tie?

Avion
Avion
4 months ago

MMOs have dailies and I wasted my more-than-fair amount of time in those. I even enjoyed them, in many cases. And then there’s Eve Online, a game that I had to try after seeing so many cool videos and epic tales of massive battles between players. And I abandoned in less than a week, when I realized that I actually needed to do repetitive, boring tasks for hours and days (i.e.: mining asteroids) in order to buy better ships to perform that job better, right after coming home from my actual job. Which is payed, while to have the privilege… Read more »

Vedrit
Vedrit
4 months ago

Some game events do feel like chores, but I think that GW2 actually does a decent job. Yeah, there are achievements/items that can only be gotten during the event, but most of them aren’t limited to that particular year, and you can generally resume your achievement/item progress next year. I especially enjoy GW2’s Halloween and Christmas events, and reliably log in to participate.

Volguus
Volguus
4 months ago

I would do literally one daily in ESO to get the tickets then log out. The winter event is more profitable for the ticket vendor because it grants three tickets for a single quest and lasts a long while. So by event’s end I will have gotten my own plane of Oblivion to build a fortress of pain and be astonishingly close to that custom Daedric cosmetic skin. Beyond that, I played Century Age of Ashes for its event and a new FFA kill everyone game mode. Enjoyable little game. It granted me a 65% discount on currency bundles at… Read more »

Don
Don
4 months ago

That’s primarily the reason that I haven’t fired up AC:Valhalla in over 2 months. I love the franchise, and this game has been amazing; but, the various mini events and requirements for special swag? I’m over it all. I’ll just buy it later in the store if it isn’t just cosmetic perks.

Last edited 4 months ago by Don
Pulse
Pulse
4 months ago

i dont bother with events really. if i get it alright, if i dont i dont miss much.

TomB
TomB
4 months ago

The comic links in my mind with the original Matrix movie, where Agent Smith explains how they created a wonderful world to keep humans happy but it went to hell because humans didn’t want to be happy. So they made a drudgy, farming style of world so people could function and not make a fuss (so the aliens could use them as batteries). The FOMO thing this comic calls out is the same thing. Maybe we are, to an extent, unable to just have fun and not worry about what other people are doing and worrying about what we might… Read more »

Morrigan
Morrigan
4 months ago

I actually REALLY agree. The whole Dailies thing REALLY burnt me out with regards to Genshin Impact. I used to LOVE that game. ADORED it. The characters. The Story. The combat. Until eventually it became a Job I wasn’t even getting paid for!! An at that point I QUIT! Sure I was NEVER going to be a Big Spender…but I was still wanting to spend a little money each month. The grind was too boring. Too hard. Too long. Which is GREAT when you have LOTS of free time! If you’re rich enough to take lots of time off. If… Read more »

leduk
leduk
4 months ago

I totally stopped doing event-related “jobs” in videogames.

Sanquin
Sanquin
4 months ago

This is what games want these days. They want you to spend as much time as possible in THEM and THEM alone. Other things taking up your time (including other games) be damned! And that’s the problem. Games no longer respect your time. Chores in games back in the day still respected your time to some extend. You felt like you should do them, and they generally weren’t easy having some form of challenge in them, but at least they didn’t take up a huge amount of time for the most part. Now the 2nd and 3rd one have switched.… Read more »

Croi
Croi
4 months ago

So many games rely on FOMO (fear of missing out, for those who don’t know), but I’m obviously not the target demographic for it. I mean, it works so well on the vast majority of gamers, otherwise, they wouldn’t keep doing it. The only FOMO I get is when I want to go hunt, fish, or game with my friends, but I can’t due to life obligation. It’s not like I don’t know what FOMO feels like, I just don’t get it over games. Sure there have been times when I’m like, “Okay, I want to unlock that!”, but when… Read more »

Ryn Knze
Ryn Knze
4 months ago

A comic of yours just appeared on instagram and I immediately googled your site. Right in my childhood. Thank you soo much for soo many good childhood memories. I can’t wait to catch up on everything I’ve missed. I feel soo ashamed. ‘91 baby checking in. Time to hunt for merch.

Namefield
Namefield
4 months ago

That’s why I prefer singleplayer games that can be modded: -pause mode -savegames -can be modded to my liking I can select what I want to play the way I want it and when I want it with little restrictions that mostly aren’t an issue. MMOs are cancer. All of them. They always want to tie up their players 24/7 because each player missing contributes to an empty world and we can’t have that in an MMO, can we ? There’s always content in them that you can “miss” if you aren’t online and ready for it when it’s available.… Read more »