What's Fun?

As with all gamers, I play for fun.  If I end up getting paid to do it, all the better, but the entire point of gaming is fun.  The kicker is what each person determines as fun for themselves and how that paradigm somehow should apply to every other soul playing the game.  At the conceptual level, this makes sense and it’s how developers pitch their game ideas.  At the logical level it gets quite a bit more complicated and cliques form.  At the physical level, the actual game mechanics themselves, this is where you have vocal minorities.

For me, I’ve always been fascinated by puzzles.  When I was a kid, I would marvel at the 6 piece wooden ones I had lying around.  I played Perfection until I had a system going that was 75% wins.  Operation was another one.  I then moved on to the 500 and 2000 piece puzzles, finally into the 3D puzzles when they were the craze in the 90s.  When I was in post secondary, I played a puzzle game everyday (usually on the Shockwave site) in order to get my brain going.  I still do the puzzles in the paper when I take the bus to work.  My brain simply needs some sort of challenge.

When video games came around the challenge was, at the start, dexterity based.  You could be the smartest player in the world but you would still get wiped with Battletoards or Ghosts and Goblins.  PC games were better as they were bigger and the RPG was where I found my solace.  The Ultima series, Bard’s Tale, Stonekeep, Quest for Glory and all those games had me coming back for more.  I even gave a shot at MUDs when the first came out.

Nearly all of my fun was in single player games.  When UO came out, I jumped in with a friend and got hooked.  The challenge was daily – staying alive, boosting skills, making stuff,  building a house.  There was always something to do and I did most of it.  I sold plenty of characters and I think I’m still living on the cash I made back then.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve paid out of pocket for any gaming since I was 20, but that’s another matter.

UO was a pain with PvP though and I moved onto EQ.  EQ was full of puzzles and challenges but the time requirement was just plain stupid.  Waiting hours to get any progress done was hard and when WoW came out, 90% of the EQ players moved.  WoW had challenges but you could solo them.  Group stuff for me has never really worked, other than the social aspect.  I can’t get 4 hours straight to sit through something.

Now, I’m really into the F2P and indie scene.  The advantages, other than price point, are that I can get a whole lot of stuff done, at my own pace and the pieces are bite sized.  Rift does this well too, WoW is horrible at it and MoP looks to continue that trend  – which is fine.  TSW is another pretty good example of puzzles in small sized chunks.

I get the most fun solving puzzles and completing challenges that I can either do piecemeal or complete in a small step.  A 12 step attunement process to play with friends is not on that list.  A dedicated time and place for 4 hours is simply not possible.  It’s sort of like if I told you to complete a 500 piece puzzle, you had 15 minutes or I would burn all the pieces. Some people like that and I get it.  I don’t.

Thankfully with the indie scene, there is a massive proliferation of games that suit my needs.  Grimrock, Limbo and Braid are super examples.  This isn’t to say the MMO side is done for me (or gamers as a whole) but in the big picture, I know what I like and I like me some puzzles.

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