Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Are you a ‘one game’ gamer?

A recent article at Kotaku looks at a rising phenomenon; gamers who only play one game. While this is not a new phenomenon it appears to be more common than before. The article got me thinking.

Over the past year I have become one of these gamers. Civilization V has been the only game I played, with a couple of exceptions. Those exceptions were nostalgia trips into Wasteland and Doomdark’s Revenge and neither lasted long. After a few hours in each I was back to Civ V.

The Kotaku article talks a lot about community building around games, but that is not the only driver. With decades of gaming behind us, there are a number of games that have a reasonably shallow learning curve, but gameplay that goes as deep as players are prepared to follow. It is these games that people are likely to play to the exclusion of all others.

It’s not necessarily a case of one game’s overarching quality, but rather the people playing never feel they have finished. In fact they never detect a ‘completion arc’ in the game. Games may contain internal metrics, but the gameplay leads itself to view those in isolation from the act of playing. If your character is level 50 and the cap is 100, do you feel you are halfway to competing the game? For many, the answer is no.

This is not limited to the RPG and RTS genres, I think when the new version is finished, Day Z will likely fall into a similar bracket. It’s a game you play play forever, without ever completing, and that won’t bother you. Perhaps this is the future of gaming.

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8 comments on “Are you a ‘one game’ gamer?

  1. Von
    January 24, 2015

    On a ‘per format’ basis, I believe I am – in that I generally have one PC game, one wargame, and one pencil-and-paper RPG on the go at any given time. I might be thinking about other stuff, I might take the occasional jaunt into something else, but by and large I’m settled on something for a few months at a time.

    Much of this, in tabletop land, is probably down to my sell-off-and-finance-forward model of purchasing, which can leave me retreading old ground from time to time (I’m on my second Cryx force, for instance, and I don’t want to think about how many times I’ve bought the first Orks), but I think you’re right about the nature of games.

    When I first started playing World of Warcraft, it was clear that no single-player RPG could match the potential breadth of experience, and Blizzard’s tendency to co-opt particular styles of gameplay from the wider market (incorporating pseudo-Pokémon with the battle pets, and the Flash game style that Hark likes so much with the garrisons) meant that I didn’t feel the need to get into those. They were part of this thing that I already did.

    I only quit WoW when my preferred form of endgame play (the moment of depth that you describe in your post coming, of course, at the level cap) became tiresome – if the big open PvP conflict of a given expansion is fundamentally broken, I’m gone. It’s only when I’ve been going through a period of disinterest in WoW that I’ve picked up Dawn of War or Diablo or Battle for Wesnoth or Blood Bowl and knocked around with them for a bit, and even then, generally one at a time.

    The pencil and paper RPG, or the tabletop wargame, are a bit different in that there’s a buy-in cost in terms of time and effort (I tend to GM games rather than play in them, so there’s definitely some pre-game labour to be done there) – once that investment is sunk it’s generally worth emphasising that game in one’s attention until the investment has seen a return.

    • davekay
      January 25, 2015

      Good points, this can apply to tabletop games too. I think Games Workshop have been trying to do this over the past few years with their ‘games workshop hobby’ rhetoric that deliberately ignores most of the miniatures world.

      • Von
        January 25, 2015

        Past decade at least, I’d say.

        This is absolutely the model along which the proprietary wargame (i.e. “you buy your models and your rules and your accessories and your terrain FROM US, you hear?”) runs; closing the gates behind you once you’ve bought into the brand. I wrote a couple of pieces on this in the past – https://kaptainvon.wordpress.com/?s=termite+art – in which you might be interested.

  2. davekay
    January 25, 2015

    I have always preferred the creator model to the consumer model, and I expect many other games, like you, would agree.

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  4. daggerandbrush
    January 29, 2015

    I have some games that are always a pleasure and will take up quite some of my free tiem. I love Civ 5, too, and Path of Exile is my got to game in the last couple of month. It is a bit like Field of GLory, a game I enjoy and try to get games in as often as possible. i still enjoy playing new games, but with time being limited I rather focus on games I know that deliver what I want out of an hour of gaming :). I also like the idea that I payed, say 100 Dollars for Civ 5 and add-ons and almost played a thousand hours with my wife. Same goes for PoE, but here it is even free to play and the microtransactions are only of a cosmetic nature.

  5. Flames of the Phoenix
    January 30, 2015

    I am more of a “one game at a time” person. That is largely because I tend to play RPGs and campaign-style RTS games. If I don’t focus on one, I will never finish it.

    I think that the ‘one game’ movement probably centers more around online games where you are constantly competing with other players. To compete at a decent level, you have to keep your skills sharp or acquire the latest gear, so must focus on one game. Also, the competition with other players can help to keep the game more fresh.

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