GamePlay Blog – Week 8
October 30th – November 5th 2017
My relationship with gaming this week has been a complex one, despite my game play time being noticeably reduced from previous entries. Though likely a surprise to no one, I have returned to playing Overwatch (Overwatch)—however my feelings toward the game have definitely changed in relation to the conditions in which I played. I performed some much needed self reflection as to why I was feeling negatively (or positively, in the case of Animal Crossing (Animal Crossing: New Leaf)), and I continue to be sensitive towards the ways in which games may impact our emotional states.
I returned to Overwatch this week, and although I didn’t play for nearly as long or as regularly as I have in the past, I definitely feel myself settling back into my routine. I don’t view this negatively, as it is not a “regression” to undesirable habits—it’s merely the return to a game that I love after some much needed time spent playing other ones and doing other things.
It’s important to note that this week I was joined by some new acquaintances. Playing with new people had a significant impact on my game play, specifically in the way in which I played. Wherein typically my partner and I queue up into a random match together, I had to adjust my typical routine to work around new, unfamiliar people.
This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Overwatch impacted me:
- At first I found myself having fun with the game again purely thanks to the gameplay: the character mechanics, skill required to succeed, and the satisfaction of winning. However, as I began to play with some new people, I found myself sidelining my own enjoyment so that I could be properly flexible to their game-related needs. At this point, playing sometimes felt more like a chore or a requirement, and I was quite relieved when the sessions came to an end and I could be in control of my time again.
- Unlike my usual friends, these new people varied considerably in both skill and play style—something that I had not immediately anticipated. Where I was at first excited and enthusiastic to once again have some people to join me in Overwatch, I started to feel pressured and annoyed. To some extent I felt some resentment, but I was able to come to terms with the fact that these feelings were both unproductive and unfounded. It can be difficult to change one’s own habits to adhere to another person’s, and although I am used to being relatively flexible during play, I found myself having to “slow down” or “tone down” in order to play with a vastly lower leveled acquaintance. Conversely, when I was joined by someone closer to my own level, I felt compelled to join them in competitive mode (a more serious skill and teamwork based mode with rewards), something that I do not often play.
- As a whole, Overwatch brought about a spectrum of feelings for me this week. It is important for me to recognize that although it is nice to be joined by new people, much of my negative feelings are self-imposed based on my own internalized pressure. I often feel compelled to be as welcoming and flexible as possible when interacting with new potential friends, specifically online, so that other people enjoy their time spent playing with me as much as possible.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Unlike previous weeks, I did in fact skip out on a day of playing Animal Crossing. I try to visit once per day at the very least, however, with how busy my schedule is with school related work, it’s not surprising that a day was able to slip through the cracks. Arguably missing one day does very, very little in the grand scheme of things, but it was a bit jarring to suddenly realize I hadn’t checked in on my game: I hadn’t adhered to my routine.
Nevertheless, my time spent with Animal Crossing this week was time well spent. I did not necessarily achieve as much as I have in previous weeks, but it is my opinion that using ones time favourably does not always equate to using it effectively. Games are enjoyable so long as we are meeting our own expectations; whether I am achieving a capitalistic goal of earning, buying, or gaining something in exchange for my time is not always a driving factor. I enjoyed my time with the game even when I was wandering aimlessly, interacting with in-game characters, and purely enjoying the “feel” of the in-game world.
This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Animal Crossing impacted me:
- Having been able to play through the Halloween content for the first time, I had a very enjoyable experience with the game this week. It was especially fun to take part in a new aspect of a game that I’ve been playing for years, and the event was made even more enjoyable by my partner aiding me in getting all of the Halloween-themed items that I wanted. In a way, the Animal Crossing event took the place of real-life trick-or-treating, something that I have not participated in for many years given my “adult” (questionable) status. Looking back on it now, the in-game event was both charming and nostalgic: it allowed me to indulge myself in a part of Halloween culture that I have not enjoyed for some time, without any shame or guilt.
- Halloween aside, I continued to enjoy my time with Animal Crossing this week. Though I do not always feel the immense satisfaction that the game sometimes lends to me, I almost always leave the game with some form of positivity. In an otherwise stressful and demanding life, something as small, cute, and undemanding as Animal Crossing’s virtual town is a welcomed addition to my life.
- Though I continue to neglect completing certain things in-game, this behaviour more or less ensures that I will have things to achieve and complete in the future. I tend to focus on finishing or bettering aspects of my game, forever chasing a fleeting sense of self-worth and satisfaction, but this week I was much more content with… being content. Despite not “doing much” in game, I continue to look forward to playing. I take enjoyment out of the little things (finding a nice item, completing a very small request for an in-game character, etc) while sidelining some of the larger and more daunting projects (completing a $xxx,xxx monument, for example).
Games are, without a shadow of doubt in my mind, inherently enjoyable—as they should be, given the way they are designed as entertainment. It is becoming more and more clear to me that our own experiences with games are situational and environmentally influenced. We are social creatures who thrive on stimulus, and online games are an obvious marriage of social interaction and the constant bombardment of the senses. Games change how we feel not only about them, but about each other and ourselves, and it is important to recognize this power so as not to give into unrealistically skewed reactions.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Nintendo. December 8, 2016. Video game.
Overwatch. 126.96.36.199B. Blizzard Entertainment. August 31, 2017. Video game.