Any of us who owns a smart phone or a tablet these days is very likely to have at least one game on the device we’re happy to while away some time with. These games tend to be easy to pick-up and play and give us that sense of instant gratification we’ve come to crave through our modern devices. This field of gaming has developed dramatically in recent years and some titles have become so popular we’re seeing blockbuster films made out of them (anyone seen Angry Birds yet?). So for many of us every day our games have Daily Log-In bonuses up for grabs, in which all we need to do is log in to get a reward. It’s a lovely little feeling just to be given a gift for showing up at the party, but is it about time we realised this can have a major detrimental effect on our attitude towards gaming.
Agruably, isn’t there this sense we’re being emotionally blackmailed into continuing play? I read an article on Polygon titled ‘Four ways to become a happier gamer, and person, in 2015’ (okay, we’re in mid-2016 here but the sentiments outlined are still relatable). The writer speaks about becoming “paralyzed by choice” in their free time and that we can “almost start to feel guilty about not keeping up with all your [our] favourite diversions”. It’s can certainly be overwhelming to have so much to play nowadays, yet these words made me reconsider my relationship with my own current gaming past-time.
Casinos, Luxury Neighbourhoods, 50+ characters to tap and lets not get started on decorating the town. Tapped Out is a brutal lesson on how a game can easily take over your life!
Final Fantasy: Record Keeper has been a fixture in my daily life now for around 8 months; every day I have made progress on the main campaign dungeons as well as kept up with the event campaigns. Yet I find myself often overcome with the amoiunt of activities to do, so much so I haven’t touched the main campaign in over 2 months; instead I’ve struggled to keep up with collecting everything from the events. Scarily enough what was once a 10 minute diversion in my day has become an hour, plus, every day. Playing the game has reached a point where it’s become almost distressing to miss out on the next character, that to miss my chance to break their level cap is unthinkable. This is a game I still enjoy yet trying to keep up with it does indeed feel like a chore at times. I had a similar relationship with The Simpsons: Tapped Out which ended with me throwing in the towel permanently. Thus is that the inevitable dilemma these games give rise to, either keep up the pace in an almost ritualistic fashion or stop until we’re so far behind it no longer feels worth keeping up anymore?
This is where the daily log-in bonuses work their magic, because if the game’s reward system is good enough, every single day we log in could make a major difference to our progress. So I find myself logging in still, and checking out what’s new and feeling that urge to play the game, even though some days I had planned to focus on something else. It becomes a sap on our free time because if we don’t use it to play the game it’ll pull away from us. The daily log-in bonus is a reminder of this fact.
The Polygon article goes on to suggest “making specific [pop culture] goals” each day and once they did that they found themselves “finishing game after game” because they no longer felt pressured by their free time to stay on top of all their pop culture interests. It seems a refreshing approach to gaming yet somehow these daily log-in bonus type gams can’t we fit with this mantra. These games may work fine in the live of many, and several others are just happy playing one game and one game only, yet for others like myself I still want to keep up; but if that means logging in everyday to stay ahead, its like sacrificing time spent on playing something else. Heck sometimes it’s sacrificing time doing anything else.
Indeed, the idea of a daily log-in bonus makes checking into our favourite games rewarding from the offset, but the more devious games have a way of making us depend on receiving that bonus every day. When content has no definite end yet keeps coming at us at a steady rate, it indeed begins to have a detrimental effect on our gaming, and our moods. Because we’re no longer choosing to play in our free time, our free time is dissolved by it.