Bite Sized Gaming

A Bhagpuss musing over at a post about MMO monogamy at Bio Break

“I would really love some genuinely casual MMOs to come along where I can play for half an hour and see satisfying, meaningful character progression. Don’t believe it will ever happen though.”

Fear not Bhagpuss, there is definitely room for that style. I am playing a certain title right now, that I get to log in for 20-40 minutes, have a LOT of fun, AND also have meaningful character progression! I even wrote about it recently. Yup, baseball! I wrote about this as well in 2010 when I first noticed the gameplay. This style is also found in multiple sports formats. What is brilliant about this format is that you only play the exact plays your character is involved in. This makes a three and a half hour baseball game take about 30 minutes as a starting pitcher. It’s far, far less as a position player (pitchers only play ever couple of games in relief, and start every 5 games)

Currently, I have a right handed relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals (MLB The Show), who got his first start in the big leagues. I pitched a complete game, 1 hit shutout, and received 1215 points to improve my character. I also have a backup goaltender for the San Jose Sharks (NHL 2015), and my son recently signed a minor league deal in FIFA 2015. While I haven’t bought American football games for a while I am aware they had the same kind of personal player development (even to the next level, in NFL 2006 I think I got a small part in a movie for my quarterback..) All bite sized gaming, all meaningful progression towards small goals (character improvement) and larger ones (having your team making the playoffs / win championships) and even amazingly huge goals (get inducted into the sports hall of fame).

Of course, I suppose that you might actually have to like sports to play these games. But at least there is a proof of concept to work towards. Sure, these are single player games but I think MMOs could take a page out of the style and make a title or two. Probably through Kickstarter. And while it is not an MMO, it isn’t any much different than playing MMOs as single player RPGs which is pretty much the norm anyway, and pretty much my only experience in the excellent title The Secret World.

This style and kind of gaming is really important for me now because as Liore discusses Time Management and Gaming there just aren’t enough hours in the day to game, and how is that prioritized with family, work, etc. I thought I would share my day yesterday, and I expect it to be just as normal and busy as all of yours. Once it is dissected though you see there isn’t a lot of time for personal gaming in a family and work environment.

  • 6:30 wake up. Feed dogs, take them outside. Make breakfast.
  • 7:30 pack lunches, change, get ready for work, get the kid on his bus
  • 8:30 arrive to work
  • 5:30 leave work
  • 6:00 cook dinner
  • 7:00 play frisbee with the kid, shoot hoops
  • 7:30 watch first period of NHL playoff game (actual game, Rangers v Capitals) with the kid
  • 9:00 pitch a digital baseball game
  • 9:30 Work out
  • 10:45 watch rest of NHL game, plus overtime
  • 11:30 shower
  • Midnight bed

There isn’t really anything I can cut out there to get more gaming time unless I sacrifice time with my son or my workout time.  And while that was my my full day yesterday often there is evening work instead of gaming or hockey playoffs, but really, during the week there isn’t much time to be a gamer – unless I start waking up earlier, or going to bed later. Is sleep really that important?

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I like baseball. as much as anyone from the UK is likely to do. I used to watch it when it was on Channel 4 and I used to listen to the Radio 5 baseball coverage while I was playing MMOs, back when used to have the radio on while I played. I’ve read a few books on the sport too, most recently Ray Mungo’s quirky interface between the failed counterculture of the 60s and 70s and baseball fandom, “Confessions From Left Field”.

    I’d certainly be a candidate for a baseball game only…I don’t really play non-MMOs. It’s not an issue of time – although I often complain about not having enough of it (who does?) I actually have next-to-no responsibilities outside of work these days, I only work four days a week and I have a partner who is completely in tune with my gaming interests. It’s more an issue of non-MMOs not feeling quite real to me – I can start them but in a very short time I begin to feel their pointlessness weighing down on me. I realize that’s an existential reaction but the fact remains that one type of game feels real and the others don’t. I got Broken Sword V for Christmas, for example, the latest installment of what was, before I discovered MMOs, one of my favorite game series of all time, and so far I haven’t played even the first scene.

    What I was actually thinking when I wrote that sentence in the comments at Bio Break was “I really miss Free Realms”. I want that game back or one very much like it. I often would play FR for half an hour at the end of the day and it was perfect for winding down. I always like to have an MMO for that – currently Dragon Nest Oracle is doing service in that slot. Free Realms was the best though. Unless it was Neo Steam…

    1. Heh, my post was inspired by your comment even though it didn’t fully align with your purpose. =) I never played free realms. I have used TSW similarly to what you mention but really, that is just another single player RPG for me, and i am very early on in that game.

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