I’ll never stop playing

It is not over. It is never over. In the end, I always return to the console, and somehow, I always have at least a little bit of fun, that is enough to bring me back, holding the controller like my baby. During the last week, I even played just by myself. Twice! What is going on? Especially just after I said, that it is over. That I don’t want to play games anymore?

Right now, I can think of two reasons. First, the circumstances of being bombarded with things to do for my university: I play as a compensation for all the work that has to be done, as a compensation for my duties. And second, because I am used to play in so many different ways: If I hear, that my roomates are playing, I get overwhelmed by the willingness to play with them. If I come home after a long day, I walk through the living room, and there it is, the video game console covered in a bright and shiny light. Or just before I go to sleep, come on, just one or two rounds.

Addiction has many reasons. And video games are all about addiction. If I don’t get addicted to a video game in any way, I won’t get the “rules” of the game, I won’t become better, I maybe even get frustrated during a singleplayer story mode, if my addiction level is lower than the basic expectations of the gameplay itself.

If I look back, I ever been addicted to video games. It all started 1998, when my dad bought me the first Playstation. The fascination never stopped since then. One more reason is, that I am a native of “modern” 3D video games and I was always part of the evolution. Not only from Playstation 1 to Playstation 4, but also a part of the evolution of graphics, storytelling, gameplay and so on. Every new generation of consoles and video games showed me and the world new things or features, that were so fascinating, that I never really had the chance to stop playing at all.

Having a look from an outer perspective, this all seems complex and weird. Video games are closed units, separated from the concerns of the real world: They don’t bring me closer to any of my goals. Which maybe means, that they are a waste of time. But is joy, the core intend of every single video game, really a waste of time? I had probably one thousand hours of gameplay in my favorite game back then, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and so did my friends. What do I feel when I look back? Was it a waste of time?

A second before that magic “beep”.

Absolutely not. I consider this time as a good time. Most importantly, an “easy” time: We had no problems. We were friends, and we played together. That was what mattered. Marks in school? Didn’t matter. Problems at home? Didn’t matter. Achievements in real life? Didn’t matter. Isn’t this, what youth is all about?

Sometimes I caught myself saying, that I could have done so many more important things during my youth instead of playing video games. Playing the piano for example, or writing a book, or learning for school to get better grades, which in the end prevented me from attending the university of my first choice.

But somehow, I managed it. All my teachers were wrong! They said, no, you’ll get lost, you won’t get a good apprenticeship or whatsoever. I proved them wrong  and I somehow surprised myself a little bit with this. I attended a good university and got a great co-op apprenticeship at a big company. And it even got better: My addiction to video games started to pay off in the form of a Youtube channel. And this is probably another reason, why I am confident to say that I didn’t waste my time back then.

And at last, surely, times will never be that easy as it was in my youth. But this is the reason, why this was a good time. I lived it as a fulfillment of my perception of what I would call joy. And besides all other reasons, joy at the end of the day is what keeps me playing video games.

Once a gamer, forever a gamer.

Thank you for reading my GamePlay blog. I had a blast.

Cheers,

iNoReply

You’ll never be the best again

Five years ago, nobody online could beat me in Call of Duty. Surely, a few people did, but that was rare and I accepted it. But in general, I had a great time playing this game, because I was so good at it, and the feeling of being way better than most of the other players online was one of the reasons that made me get addicted to it.

This time is over. I have played Call of Duty: WWII now for two weeks and I can’t see any progress. I get killed all over again. All over again. And this is too frustrating. Especially, because I know, this has been used to be my game. The realization, that it is not my game anymore, well, hurts. A little bit. But its definitely frustrating. I can’t keep up with the many players online like I used to. Most of the times I can’t even get more kills than deaths, and wow, that was a long time the absolute minimum within a game. Now it is usual and it lowers my addiction to the game significantly. When I see my roomates playing, I still want to play a match or two, but shortly after that I again realize, that it is not my game anymore. And at the same time, the physical impairment of feeling a little bit dizzy after getting killed all over again is making me loose interest in playing this game. I stand up and leave my roomates.

Maybe, I am too old now to actually want to be best in this game. Maybe I realized, that there are other things in my life, in which I want to be best at. In writing for example, I want to write a bestseller. Or in playing piano, well, I am still at the beginning to learn it, but there is progress, and progress is a key factor of staying motivated at doing something. In Call of Duty, I can’t see any progress within the first two weeks, when I normally had a significant progress and success within the first two or three days. It’s over. And other things are more important.

While this GamePlay blog comes to an end, such a realization is probably what I was searching for when I first started to write it. I had my ups and downs, and more or less motivation to play games each week or each day. But right now it feels like this is over and I don’t want to play video games anymore. Maybe the motivation to play video games comes back when I meet my friends at home, and we sit next to each other and play a round of FIFA, I guess that this never gets old. But playing FIFA online, I think, I would see the same lack of progress and I probably would need a couple of months to become better again.

But I don’t want to. No, I think it’s over.

Cheers,

iNoReply

It gets me

The same procedure than every year. It’s November, a new Call of Duty gets released, I buy it. It’s like having a favorite game, and in each year a new version is produced of it. Because that is it, a new Version. Everything is the same, the gameplay, the rules, the controls, even the graphics, just the setting changes. Is a changed setting worth sixty bucks?

I wouldn’t say so. It’s just, I mean, I have been addicted to this game in earlier years. Although I don’t even have time anymore to play it that often, I want to have it. It has done something with me, or in my head, that repeats the habit to buy it every single year. My real life setting is independent from this habit, if I have time or not, it doesn’t matter. I still want it. And my friends? They already have it.

So I came back from Alaska, stepping in my dorm, and my roomates were playing Call of Duty: WWII (Activision, 2017), the newest version of the franchise. I would lie if I would say that I wouldn’t have hoped for that. Actually, I wanted to see this. I was excited for this game. Alaska? Far away in my head. What a shame.

I came back and had no time to realize, what I just did. Walking into the nature, purely and vast, and nothing else. I was just on me, alone, thinking about me and life. And then I came back and jumped into my normal day to day life during my semester abroad like nothing special happened. And a new Call of Duty confirmed this, it confirmed a habit, that I have been used to, for many years. Again, what a shame.

Argh. I want to do more out of this situation, I want to achieve more with the thoughts I gained through my Alaskan adventure. But at the same time I want to play this games with my friends. Well, maybe this is a discovery. I don’t want to play it alone. I would not sit down for myself and play it for myself with anyone around. What a difference to my previous adventure, completely alone in the wilderness! And what a confusing discovery…

Lets find out more about this 🙂

iNoReply

 

A real game

This week I did not a play a real video game. Some sort of, the game I played this week was too real to be a video game, it was a game in real life. A traveled to Alaska. I was dreaming about Alaska for ten years, and now the challenge in that sort of game was to find out, whether Alaska fulfills me the way I expected. Moreover, other challenges were completing different tasks like various flights I had to take, buses and rental cars, hiking mountains, hiking through the snow, staying alive in the wilderness. Being at the airport right now to get the last flight back to university, I have to say, that I completed all challenges. Yet the question of personal fulfillment in Alaska cannot be answered.

While I was staying in a rustic lodge in Northern Alaska, being the only tourist over there, I was thinking of life right now. Do I complete the challenges, life gives me each day? Do I not only complete,  but rather be good at completing all those tasks in everyday’s life? I was thinking, and thinking, and thinking. The life game was very hard to answer.

I do my best. That’s for sure. But giving my best does not mean I never fail. There is no respawn in real life, so I have to stay alive, no matter what. But staying alive can be seen from different angles. Either to just stay alive, going through life by accepting all given circumstances. Or to stay alive the best possible way, enhancing the experience of life every single day and trying to not only complete all required tasks, but also all optional fun tasks, that enriches life.

Such like traveling to Alaska. This travel game enriches my life, and I had to do it. Otherwise I never could have find out, if Alaska is the same as it is in my dreams. Its the same like a playing a video game. You only can find out if the game is as you expected it to be by playing it. Some things in life can just be conquered by going or playing through it.

Now, every game has it’s positive and negative aspects. For example in a game, that gives you options instead of being linear, forcing you to weigh up options and then to decide for a certain path, you might choose a path, which makes you wonder, if the other path probably would have been the better choice. But at the end both, real life and a video game, give you the freedom to also explore the other path afterwards. So what I am thinking of is, that going alone, just by myself, to Alaska, into this vast infinite beauty of wilderness, might been the path, that I should not have gone alone. Maybe I should have selected the multiplayer mode for that real life game, so I could have said afterwards, that Alaska was better than expected. But for now, the vast beauty of Alaska amazed me in a way, that I have expected. But not more.

Isn’t that always the case? The multiplayer mode is much more addictive. I’ll keep that in mind for my next travels.

Until next time,

iNoRepLy

Fake attention

My roomates don’t do anything else. They just wake up, eat, go to university and play video games. What the hell? There is so much to do here in and around Nanaimo. It’s Canada!

These thoughts just appeared, when I came back from a hiking trip and I saw my roomates playing video games together. And right after I had these thoughts I was asking myself, what would they think if they visit my home country Germany for the first time and seeing me playing video games in my room all day long. Probably something quite similar to my thoughts, right?

The funny thing is, that I immediately sat down to play with them. The second before I judged them, the second after I play with them. This truly is determined by the attraction of the game they play, and the game we have been playing together the last two weeks.

But today, nothing works. I die over and over again, I can’t keep up with the hundreds of other online players. It’s frustrating. So I’ll pass the controller along and now its his turn to give his best. It works for him! But why! I am a much better player than he is. I don’t want to look at this anymore.

I got out of the room and the first thought appeared again. They should not play all day long. They should go out and do something. But to be honest, I knew, that I would have had a totally different feeling if I actually were successful at the game, while my roomates where watching me playing. Its weird. To be more honest, I am not interested at all in watching them play. I just want them to watch me playing, watch me being successful, being the best.

Do they have similar thoughts? According to their reactions when I play, no. They react in a way that supports the idea of me playing Call of Duty in front of them. So why do I have these thoughts? Is my attention to them playing this game in front of me really fake?

The euphoria I had the weeks before is now on a low level. I still want to go back to the game, but situations like this make me feel uncomfortable. Especially because they saw me loosing at the game. Argh!

It might be part of my personality, that I react in this way with my inner thoughts and feelings. In my opinion, I should set myself the challenge, to gain a better perspective in these situations, creating real attention to my roomates, supporting them in their play as much as they do when I play. That is what I should try to do, instead of being frustrated about my lack of success in the game. Why can’t I be just happy about Alex reaching new highscores? I feel like I have to analyze this question again in upcoming GamePlay blogs.

Until next time,

iNoReply

I am back!

I wake up. I want to play.

I go to sleep. Can’t wait to play again tomorrow.

The addiction to this game got me back. It just took a few ingredients: A roomate bringing in his Xbox. He bought Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered (Infinity Ward, 2017). And we have an online connection. That was it. And every single guy in my dorm was down to play the game!

So this week, we have played a lot. Like really a lot. But I can’t say, that it is the same addiction that happened to me a few years ago, when my life nearly was all about Call of Duty. This time, it does not feel like a compensation of real life. Moreover, it is a competitive, joyful experience. My roomates challenge themselves, while challenging all of these anonymous players around the world. Who is going to get the best highscore?

From an outer perspective, it is quite confusing. I am in Canada, in the country I ever wanted to live in, mostly because of the nature and the way of life. I could do thousand things in a day, but right now I rather go back to my dorm and play Call of Duty with my friends. Is it more fulfilling than experiencing nature? I would not say so. But why then do I spend more time playing this game instead of going out?

In a simple way, the addiction to a video game is different from the addiction to nature. I feel free when I’m walking through a forest with big trees and white mountains at the horizon, but right now I ask myself, how does nature reward me with this sense for mothers earth beauty? I feel free. A good feeling. But I am also asking myself, how this brings me further in life? The game instead creates a feeling of being proud of myself, because I have proved to be better than my friends and mostly better than the online competitors, and in addition, I leveled up. But at the end, this is temporary. It also does not brings me further in life. To conclude, nature and video games cause different emotions and feelings inside me, but the game rewards me quite more for spending time with it.

But wait. Doesn’t nature reward me too for spending time in it? Oh yes, it does! Just climb up this mountain and you see, what I see: Namely that there is nothing in this world that can haunt our consciousness more than nature. This is real, and although the emotions caused by video games are real too, they get created from something digitally, from something virtual, maybe even unreal.

So what am I going to do next after my class today? Go out for a walk? Or play Call of Duty with my roomates? The answer is easy and I think, that I don’t understand it fully yet. But yes, I am going to play. It is a nice Monday to play video games with your friends.

See you next week,

iNoReply

 

My soul just got dark

I try again. And again. And again. This bossfight freaks me out. Dark Souls III (From Software, 2016) is not fair. Noo, this game is just not fair. This stupid boss isn’t going to die! Whyyyy… argh! Again. And again. THIS GAME IS…

amazing! Finally I have beaten him. I feel overwhelmed. Pure joy is throwing its particles of happiness into my mind. Wow, that was a fight. Took me hours.

When I rethink the situation, I feel ashamed. I won this virtual bossfight, but the bossfight in real life, that one exam in the middle of the semester, was too hard for me to pass. I lost the game! And not only a few hours later I was sitting in front of the console, playing Dark Souls 3, smashing my emotions towards the screen and feeling… good afterwards. Yeah, I needed this good feeling.

I tried so hard, and in the end, I defeated the boss in the game. How hard have I tried to get a good grade in the exam in university? I feel like not having tried too hard. The grotesque thing is, that there is no restart button for my exam. I have to give my best to defeat the bossfight in real life with my first try. Otherwise I won’t get the points I need to be a successful student. So why did I not try as hard as I tried to defeat the Boss in the game? Wasn’t I aware of the consequences? Or did I just thought I can try again and again in my subconscious?

Friends trying hard on Dark Souls 3

Sometimes it is easy to loose track on the important things. Sometimes the world is so full of serious things to keep always in mind, the underlying need is to escape of that and just play games. The characteristic of a game is a non-serious level, I can try how often I want, and I can shake away all my thoughts of serious real life. Maybe this time, I forgot to catch them back. I maybe was still thinking of real life as a video game, and this is not only because I have been playing video games recently, but I enjoyed having fun in general. Serious stuff is not as much fun as the fun that is possible with friends around you.

Yeah, I feel ashamed. And this shame is going to make it different for my next exam. Shame is a factor of seriousness. And although the ecstatic joy I got overwhelmed with after defeating the boss in the video game was what I needed after so much frustration, the serious frustration of not getting the mark I wanted to achieve will not be replaced.

Until next time,

iNoReply

 

Infinite anger

It’s time for Call of Duty again. But not for the game, I used to be one of the best players in. I wanted to try something new. Something more modern, something progressed, something, that’s still related to the “Warfare” – Series by Infinity Ward, but is completely…

Shit. Sorry to say that. But if you ever played “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” or “Modern Warfare 2”, you might understand me. In the years after the best two games of all time (according to my total multiplayer playtime), “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” (2014), followed by “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” (2016) created a boundary of frustration around the Call of Duty – Series. When I now really tried to get into the multiplayer battle of Infinite Warfare, I had the same repetitive thought all over again: WHY DID YOU DO THIS, Infinity Ward?

Me personally, I changed too over the years. What I want to say is, that I learned from mistakes. I erased them through the years, and kept focusing on something that worked well. I am now like an improved version of the kid that was addicted to video games in his early puberty. But the game of my addiction, Call of Duty, did the opposite. They tried to improve a game by making it more complex. Instead of just erasing mistakes and focusing on the things that worked well, they added an infinite number of in-game things, that threw the players into the future of battle. But the future of the Warfare – Series, also called progress according to the developers, is just a future setting, which steps back from a simplistic, addictive game.

The addiction of playing the first Modern Warfare was based on a simple mechanic, just like Counterstrike (Valve, 2000). A first person multiplayer shooter focused on the most addictive thing possible: Who is the better player when it comes to 1on1 ?

1on1 happens a hundred times during a single game. And the two old Modern Warfare – Games made it possible to realize in each 1on1-situation, who the better player was. Advanced Warfare and Infinite Warfare destroyed that addiction by adding numerous possibilities to leave a 1on1-situation as a winner, although it wasn’t a matter of skill. Players were flying around with their jetpacks, using advantages of getting killed a few times in a row, and I had no clue what was going on when I saw the Respawn-screen again and again.

So in these 3 1/2 hours that I played the multiplayer mode of Infinite Warfare, I just faced anger about all of the stuff the developers added to my beloved game. Anger about jetpacks, anger about the lack of simplistic level design, but yeah, anger about the millions of things to unlock which even made the bad players become successful. This is not what I was used to face in a Call of Duty – game. The previous addiction came from anger about my lack of skill, so I wanted to become the best player. Now it was just anger about the game itself.

Here and then it was fun, yeah, I got some really creative kills in the game. But there wasn’t a single moment, in which I forgot the world around me, in which my body and soul were so abandoned in the virtual world, that I did not care about food, friends, and real life in general anymore.

So after discovering that those new, “progressed” games can’t create addiction to myself, I still ask myself, whether the old ones are still able to pull me into the circle of a second life.

Until next week! Cheers,

iNoReply

More than just a game

Shortly after my frustrating re-start of Call of Duty, I got asked to play FIFA 17 (EA Sports, 2016) with a friend. So I just went to his apartment for a match or two, but we ended up playing it for three hours.

While I am writing this, I wonder about a thought I just had, a couple of hours later after I got back from my friends apartment:

Playing FIFA with a friend doesn’t feel like a video game.

Maybe the reason for that feeling is, that playing a sports video game together (especially FIFA), while both players actually sit next to each other in one room, became a totally normal and natural activity to me over the years. I started playing FIFA with real life friends at the young age of eight or nine, and it never stopped. We have played it together at the age of 14 and at the age of 22 and even on the last days before I went on the journey of my semester abroad in Canada. If I look back, this is actually the one and only activity I did with my friends in a continuous way, independently from time and age.

Although it is still a video game from a logical point of view, it became kind of a social activity. It was a reason to walk to each others house, grab a drink, and enjoy being together. And that social flair within a match of FIFA with a friend sitting next to you distinguishes it from many other games. Singleplayer games are created to be played alone. Even the most popular online games have little to zero social flair attached. But that match of FIFA, ohh, I could be excited the whole day when I knew I’ll be challenging a friend again; it’s like going out, but with the use of a game console.

True friendship.

In addition, the feelings and emotions are distinctly higher and more intensive while challenging a friend side by side. Every reaction of your friend, if verbal or nonverbal, and every single action in the game makes one totally happy or ludicrously frustrated. It is this up and down of feelings and emotions and the immediate possibility of reaction to each other, that makes us forget time, that deepens a friendship, and to get back to my opening thought, it makes us forget that we actually are playing a video game.

Yeah, it is much more than that. It is a social event for two players. Every single match is intimate, it is an intimate adventure of two friends.

A Sense of Duty

Week 2 Data

When I switch into the multiplayer mode, I feel an underlying duty rushing towards me like a wave of things, that I need to do, or moreover, that I want to do in order to reach the next level. The duty itself consists of playing hours by hours a specific game mode, not because I want my team, which always changes from round to round (my Clan times are over), to win, it is more likely an egocentric way of becoming better than the other players. I guess that’s it, I want to be the best player and you don’t have any chance against me.

For the first time ever, I thought about the gaming situation from an outer perspective. Young guy is sitting in the middle of the living room, gaming laptop in front him, he plays the multiplayer mode of the first person shooter Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. And while playing, he recaps, what he is doing.

The start is messed up. Haven’t played this game in ages. Although back then I had 20 days of playtime in CoD 4, it feels like I am a total newbie. I don’t have a single chance. Maybe it is because I am using the gaming laptop instead of my beloved Playstation, but this can’t be it. I still know the multiplayer map, I still know every single weapon, I still know where to go and how to behave. But my movement has changed, I am super slow, I don’t see an enemy at all.

But wait, there is one! Argh! Respawn.

My lack of reaction is frustrating. I get overwhelmed by the feeling, that it could take ages, until I am back into the game with all of my abilities to be the best player within a round of Team-Deathmatch. Shortly after it, I feel a little bit dizzy, the frustration seems to have a physical effect too. I stop playing the game for today.

iNoReply tries to step back into the game

While playing just for one hour, I have felt ambivalent about being back into the game. Back in 2011, I have spent nearly every day on the game, and when I had to chose the first weapon I want to use, it reminded me of that time. Back then, there didn’t exist any problems. Everything was second-rate. School didn’t matter, sports didn’t matter, going out with friends didn’t matter. Just the game mattered.

Now, after this one hour, I switch off the laptop and do some of my homework. After that I go out with friends. I takes three days, after I will switch on the game again.

What happened with me?

While frustration might be an important factor of how much I can get addicted to a level, in both ways, the fact that I was an actual good player some years ago made me quit the game quite fast again. Patience is required, and right now, I don’t have the patience. My life consists of so many things every single day, and gaming is just a little part of it. Why did I have so much patience back then? What made me actually getting addicted to an online game? And is there any chance I can get addicted again? I need to find out…

Until next week! Cheers,

iNoReply