GamePlay Blog – Week 4
October 2nd – October 8th 2017
This week, video games continued to be an important relaxation tool. I ended up playing largely by myself and for myself, and although it’s never my first choice, I still mostly enjoyed the time I spent playing. I think this definitely had an impact on the amount of time I played for, the way I played, and exactly how invested in the game I was.
I feel as though I enjoyed myself with Overwatch (Overwatch) this week, but upon reflection, I’m surprised to note that my gameplay time is way under my usual average of 2-3 hours per day. Interestingly enough, this is also the first week that I’ve spent the majority of my gameplay time playing alone—it’s actually the first week where I’ve recorded playing alone at all. There is definitely a correlation between the amount of time I spend playing multiplayer games like like Overwatch and whether or not I’m playing with friends. On the surface this might be an obvious relationship, but in my mind Overwatch has always been something that I’ve enjoyed whether playing alone or playing with friends. I think that, rather than changing my desire to play at all, playing with a group impacts just how much time I’m willing to invest in the game: a quantity over quality situation.
Beyond the social aspect, I’ve been much busier with school. Overwatch continues to be something I look forward to doing, but since recording these gameplay logs and reflecting on how long I game for, why I game, and how it makes me feel, I think I have become more adept at detaching myself from the game when I have certain responsibilities.
This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Overwatch impacted me:
- When I was playing alone, I was a lot more aware of myself outside of the game. I felt more detached—and so it was ultimately easier to exit the game when I stopped having fun or needed a break. I don’t think this is a good or a bad thing, but rather more of an observation.
- The game itself was still incredibly fun, and I found myself enjoying the freedom of choice more than I would while playing with friends. Usually I end up choosing my character in part based around what my friends have chosen (what roles we need filled after they have already picked, etc), but because I was playing alone, I was a lot more inclined to fool around and practice other characters.
- Even though I was enjoying the game, I only seemed to play in small bursts. There was a sense of isolation in that I wanted to be doing something with someone, as opposed to sinking time into a solo-activity. Although my partner didn’t play much this week, he and I were still communicating while I was playing alone—but our conversations were more sparse because I was focused on the game and he was focused on his task.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
I made a good amount of progress in my game this week. Lately, with how my personal life has been going, it’s been infinitely useful for me to set and achieve small goals in-game as opposed to feeling unaccomplished in real life. My partner and I have been visiting each other in-game every day, and although we only spend approximately 10-30 minutes playing together each day, we both really look forward to it. It’s become very much a morning ritual to turn on the game and see what’s changed every day.
I spent vastly more time in Animal Crossing (Animal Crossing: New Leaf) this week than I did in Overwatch. In part this is because of the handheld nature: its portability makes it very easy to quickly check in and do a few tasks in between assignments or other responsibilities, rather than committing to play an entire match in Overwatch. More than that, though, Animal Crossing is much more of a single-player game, and so playing alone didn’t leave me with the feeling that something was missing from the experience like Overwatch did.
This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Animal Crossing impacted me:
- Animal Crossing was very soothing and reassuring to play this week. I found myself favouring it over Overwatch, and at times it was very difficult to set myself a stopping point in the game. It was relaxing to focus on a game in which the objective is goal-oriented instead of conflict-oriented.
- I continued to take pride in my progress, and I was excited to show off the new things I had accomplished when my partner came to visit. I have a bit of a self-esteem issue in real life, and so for the game to help me feel a sense of pride and accomplishment is extremely uplifting.
- As with most weeks, I spent a lot of time just immersed in the game-world’s atmosphere. I spent time sitting around in my virtual home, furnishing it with virtual objects for my virtual self, and it was wonderful. The game is very much a pocket-sized safe space, and I’m not embarrassed at all to say I’ve spent a lot of time just relaxing with it. It helps me unwind and it’s nice to appreciate my own work.
Life is beginning to get more and more in the way of my gaming habits—as backwards as that may sound. I think that I’ve come a long way in terms of self-reflection toward my gameplay time, and admittedly it’s become a lot easier, as a whole, to put responsibilities first. Still, because of my mental illness, I require a lot of downtime to recharge in between real-life anxieties. I’m beginning to feel more comfortable with the idea of playing games alone, rather than with friends, but I think largely that’s more out of necessity than choice.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Nintendo. December 8, 2016. Video game.
Overwatch. 18.104.22.168B. Blizzard Entertainment. August 31, 2017. Video game.