I am not a man that likes losing progress. In fact, I’m not a man that accepts losing progress. Rogue-likes are the only situation where I’ll happily have to start from the beginning, and even then, it’s only because I like the challenge of it. If progress is lost, and it’s something where I wasn’t supposed to, or totally out of my control, I get very very mad. So mad, in fact, that it’s caused me to straight up stop playing games. This loss of progress, which typically comes from a corrupted save file, or wiping a hard-drive, typically makes me feel sorrowful at the time I’ve lost in the game, and simply not want to start it up again.
This process also applies to me in multiplayer games where you play more than one character. I simply don’t understand the appeal of an alternate avatar. Why put effort into a character that doesn’t go towards the one you play most? I know it’s not the same as losing progress, but to me it feels very similar. In a game such as World of Warcraft (WoW), a large amount of time must be spent getting to experience him to the fullest. This includes doing large amounts of repeating content to slowly gain reputation with factions, repeat dungeons each day to get small amounts of valor and justice points (the end game currencies used for purchasing raiding gear), and leveling professions so that you can craft gear which a lot of the time requires a daily item to be made. Having a main character, like I do (Iyagovos on Earthern Ring, look him up) makes this a major time investment, especially when splitting my time between other games that I have to play for review, or even just for fun. Every hour I’m not spending on him leveling some reputation, or grinding out gold I feel is an hour wasted. And it sucks.
Why does it suck, you ask? Well, it means I dedicate all my time to one character, and that means that I don’t get to experience all that WoW has to offer, or even other games. And as we all know, dedicating all of our time in one place quickly leads to burn out. And that’s what happened. I stopped playing WoW. For about 6 months, I didn’t log in at all, and it felt good. I no longer felt like I needed to go in and do things daily. I played a lot more games, but I started to miss WoW. Especially when Hearthstone was released. It was a battle to not play, and when I eventually cracked to pressure, I had to tell myself to use alternate characters, (hereby called alts). This lead to the creation of Iyagobows (a hunter), Hiyagovos (a monk), and Iyagovile (a warlock). This enabled me to split my time between characters. I thought I’d hate it.
And here’s what I discovered; having the ability to switch characters doesn’t add to the pressure of the game, nor did I hate it. I was still able to focus all my attention on one character, but as soon as I got bored, I could hop on over to something else.
You’re saying to yourself, “So what? You figured out basic time management, and how to not be bored in a game. Wee?”
And to that I say, “Yup!” But what’s more important than that is that it opened up a whole new way to play the game for me. Having the ability to switch characters when I started to get overwhelmed meant I was more willing to push myself towards getting there. I was finding that I was more willing to sit in a valley and kill guys for four hours, just because I knew that I had the ability to move to a different character, but still enjoy playing the game. This opened up the ability for me to set more goals for myself, meaning that I could experience the game to a larger scale on the main character I had originally. In some perverse way having more characters made me play the one character more. And I love it. I now love the grind, because I can set goals and reach them without getting burnt out.
It’s amazing how looking at a game from another perspective can add longevity to it, and provide the player with a new way to look at it and enjoy it more.