I’ve been a bit of a gamer for pretty much most of my teen years and into my adult life. I’ve played a lot of games over the years, and a lot of them have been computer games. I actually bought my desktop just to run WoW (World of Warcraft). Unfortunately, I found that the norm for most RPG’s nowadays is focused around the basic grind and find.
Anyone who plays WoW knows what grinding is, and is most of the reason I didn’t make it past level 20. Sure, most people do that in about a day (I honestly don’t know), but it took me like, a month due to having time constraints (a life). I like to play games for the difficulty, not the grind.
I used to play Ragnarok, Ragnarok 2, the Diablo series, and Skyrim. I constantly found myself at the same point, where it’s not about how you play, but how long you play. Sure, leveling up can be fun, but unless it’s got a story, I just can’t get into it. I’ve been in between jobs for a few months now, and while I’ve tried playing RPG’s, nothing seems to hold my attention.
I’ve tried following the storyline, but it seems so loosely held together that it’s not going to be significant enough to me to want to play again. I end up finding myself playing Age of Empires 2 all over again – like I did when I was 15. I used to be really heavy into Final Fantasy, particularly Final Fantasy 8 (yeah, I am that guy).
When I compared my experiences with Final Fantasy and something such as Skyrim, the difference for me came down to how engaging the story is. Yes, Skyrim is known to be a great game (and I do believe it is) for it’s open concept environment. You can do whatever path or quest you want, it’s not really all that linear, and if you just want to go kill stuff, you can. I thought that would be the perfect game, but then I discovered that the reason I got bored was because I’d often get sidetracked and start just killing things. A few hours later, I realize I’ve accomplished nothing, my brain hurts from boredom, and I just don’t care anymore.
On the other hand, there’s a game such as Diablo 3, which I have also recently tried to play in an attempt to pass my time and keep my mind sharp. Instead of being too open, I found it to be very linear (which wasn’t as bad as I originally thought of it.) The difficulty in Diablo comes from leveling up and finding equipment, which is where the vast majority of focus becomes. So, in my apparent ADD-ish fashion, I got bored and stopped playing.
Pen and paper RPGs are completely different than the video game counterparts. I think the majority of this is due to the fact that it actually engages your brain in order to visualize concepts, characters, settings, etc. You have to constantly be thinking in order to actively play well. The more active you are, the better your gaming session will be for everyone. Gear matters, but it’s not the end-all of the game. Story matters, but it’s also fun dealing damage. Things that can be easily tossed away in video games can be overlooked as well, or they can be integrated and used as needed for realism.
Video games are tailored to be sold for maximum profits, while with pen and paper, you have to decide what stays, what goes, and what the party needs to stay entertained. I’ve recently noticed that a lot more people are switching to pen an paper as opposed to video games. Probably due to the social aspect, the fact that I’m getting old now, or it could be that video games have just topped out. I think the idea that people want to be more active in what they are playing is getting around as well.
With any pen and paper RPG, no matter how simple the game is, every aspect requires some sort of thought and engagement. More and more gamers are coming to terms with the fact that they want to be social and play a game at the same time, so bring back the RPG’s that require a little math!
© 2016, Randy Schmidt. All rights reserved.