When does a game turn from something you play for fun to something that’s basically a job?
There’s a constantly shifting line in my head between games being something fun I engage in for stress relief or a dopamine hit and games being a checklist of tasks I have to complete. It puts me in mind of what my uncle often said, “If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life” except that sometimes I love what I’m doing and it suddenly stops being something I love.
For example, I like a lot of content in World of Warcraft, but during Mists of Pandaria the daily quests and rep grinds went from stuff I enjoyed doing and became something I was doing as part of a circuit around Pandaria. Cut to the end of Warlords of Draenor and the daily trips to the Hellfire Peninsula (formerly Tanaan Jungle) had me singing old coal mining songs to keep myself on task because the love was gone. Yet I never seemed to feel that way about the various factions and grinds in Legion, especially when we finally arrived on Argus. Whether it was doing World Quests, traveling to worlds invaded by the Legion, or hunting for rares, I was always happy to be doing whatever I was doing.
It never felt like work to me. But I know it did to others, because a lot of my friends at the time directly told me so. And this has me wondering — do you know where the line is between yay, “I’m making friends with Furbolgs” and “Stupid bears just give me that Agility enchant already?” I swear, by the end of the Winterfall/Timbermaw reputation between Felwood and Winterspring, I loathed the very sight of a Furbolg.
So when and where is your line? When, if ever, does a game feel less like playtime and more like punching in for a shift? And do you keep playing when that happens, or do what I do and do anything that isn’t the game that feels like a job?
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