I’ve been playing FF14 on and off (admittedly more off) for around a year now. I’ve reached level 50 and played through the main story, started unlocking the hard dungeons and last night I finally participated in my first raid.
I was pretty pleased with myself, and lying in bed with the future-husband I told him that I was thinking of blogging about my accomplishment, writing about playing an MMO from a casual gamer’s perspective.
“You can’t play a MMO and call yourself a casual gamer”
I was a little surprised at the response, because it seems like a bizarre line in the sand to draw – as soon as you play this type of game it makes you this kind of gamer. Is it because it requires a subscription? It could be I suppose, but then that’s like saying if you pay for a gym membership you’re suddenly a health guru. I have one of those as well and I certainly haven’t suddenly developed the desire to wear Lycra and do yoga whilst drinking a kale smoothie.
And what if you play games like Guild Wars? That game was an MMO that required no subscription, so would that be more acceptable? I did briefly own and play Guild Wars back when I was 18 (SO MANY YEARS AGO), I remember enjoying it and to be honest I can’t remember the reason I stopped.
Surely it all lies in the reasons people play and their style? Some people get really involved in a game, looking into all the classes in depth and building up a mix of characters they can play depending on mood. Raids and dungeons are all run according to a strict strategy to streamline the process and get the maximum rewards possible. Is that how I play?
Not even close.
I am probably an infuriating person to run through a dungeon with, especially if I don’t know what I’m doing. As I was playing the raid last night my other half popped in to watch and saw me using some of the abilities my character has (Bard woo!). He asked me why I was using them, to which I replied – “no idea, but nobody has shouted at me to stop yet so it’s probably right”.
Most people play on the PC and use a keyboard and mouse to maximise the efficiency of their casting and actions – I lie on the sofa and run around using a controller because that’s how I like to play. I still don’t know most of the shorthand used in player chat, and I’m happy running through and shooting things with a bow and arrow and consider not dying an achievement.
If I play a game, it’s just to relax and have some fun. Playing it online means I get the opportunity to play with my friends, the more the better. There is nothing more to it.
I identify very strongly with casual gamers because of this attitude I have to playing. It also removes any pressure to know what I’m doing when I play any game, be it with friends or people I’ve just met. If I tell them “oh I’m just a casual gamer” then automatically it gives me a free pass to be absolutely terrible at it. Then I can just enjoy it at my leisure. Don’t finish a game? No problem, it’s just something to dip into now and again.
It also gives me the freedom to play whatever game catches my eye. If I want to lose my day playing the SIMs then I can. If I’ve spotted an indie little game that peaks my interest for all of 30 minutes then I play it and move on – I don’t have to know the latest release, or have an opinion of every indie platformer that is released on Steam. To tell me I can’t identify with that any more just because I play one MMO seemed a little harsh, and it’s something that I definitely disagree with.
So will FF14 change the way I play games? No. Does being a casual gamer mean I love games and playing them any less? Of course not. Playing a game for me is something I do socially – be it online with an entire world of people or in my living room with just my fiancé. If something comes up and stops me playing for a while, then I stop playing for a while – it won’t stop me picking my controller back up when I get the chance.
So if you do play FF14, and see a little red head Miqo’te bard by the name of Sai Rei running around, feel free to wave to me or invite me to your party. The more friends the better – just don’t assume I know what I’m doing.
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