I regretted nothing back then; how times have changed.
Time is marching forward for the challenge and I still need to write the last Octopath Travel Log, as well as a write up on Beatless’s latest episode, plus how freaky Hinamatsuri is if you just stop and think about it. Of course, plans change, especially on a whim sometimes.
Yesterday, when I was commenting on DisturbedShadow’s post about his most played Steam games, I tried finding what my record was for an MMORPG I played back when I was younger. Logged into Steam, went to my library and...it was gone.
There was no record of the game. It makes sense as the game’s servers shut down in 2014, but without the page in my library, I also lost the record of how many hours I put into it. If memory serves, I had 800 hours logged over the course of about 7 months.
It was 2011. I was young, rash, and had just moved to the UK for school. I didn’t know anyone before going and when I got there, all my peers were mostly into drinking, much less video games or other nerdy pursuits.
I sought solace in online gaming, while I never played a MMO before, I was pretty accustomed to getting drawn into hours long playtime, having aspent an earlier summer in my room playing Starcraft and Diablo 2. Being a frugal student, I saw “free to play” as a giant, neon sign that meant “PLAY ME SEYMOUR!”*
I saw a game called Rusty Hearts, an action MMORPG that had a generic anime style...mixed with a gothic setting. Oh yes. I got the client, logged in, and fell hard.
A couple of weeks later I joined a guild. I met a good person in that guild. We later left the guild to form our own and started gaining more traction. I had a small group of friends to play with in Rusty Hearts. They were great people.
However, my life outside the game wasn’t amazing - nor was it horrible. I had acquaintances from class and I could chit-chat in a basic manner, but I wasn’t as close to them as I was to my online community.
Rusty Hearts was fun. When an update dropped that enabled players to grind for new, glowy weapons I spent so many hours in the same instance grinding out the necessary items, just to craft one weapon for a character. Then I did it again for my other two characters.
When I hit the end of the released content (and there was no real end-game until a later update introduced a raid), I spent the time just chatting to my friends. Even if we had only met in-game, we still talked about a variety of things, including bits of our troubles in real life.
It wasn’t all fun and games though - the guild had a pretty nasty player who created a bit of trouble amongst the members. I took the troublemaker’s side initially, because no one else seemed to. That was a dumb move - I later got doxxed by this person and my info was posted for people to see. It was really uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, I kept playing with my friends and my time in the game kept going higher and higher. I always kept on top of my homework and ensured that I ate enough to sustain myself. I also kept up the upkeep on my room and rent - I was in another country after all and for most intents and purposes, I was on my own. However, apart from the basic necessities, almost every free minute of my time was spent in the game.
7 months after I started playing, I saw my playtime in Steam. It had hit 800 hours. I panicked. It was near the end of my first year of studies and I tried to remember what the last 7 months were like. Apart from the odd project or written report, the most prominent memory was that of Rusty Hearts. I did spend Christmas in Paris, France for a few days, but I could remember that even then, even when I was in the freaking Eiffel Tower my mind was still occasionally occupied by Rusty Hearts.
My friends had already spoke about moving onto other games and we had started looking for a new MMO to dig into. However, I didn’t want to fall into the same grind, I didn’t want to pour so much of my time into another MMORPG. I quit Rusty Hearts cold turkey, and I ghosted my friends. I regret that**.
800 hours is equal to about 33 days. That’s a lot. I know that some people wrack up hundreds or thousands of hours playing MMOs, especially long running ones like World of Warcraft. I can’t do it anymore though. I did try to play MMOs again, having dived into Elder Scrolls Online at the behest of a friend - it was alright but I told him (after playing infrequently, every 2 weeks or so, over a few months) that I just wasn’t into it, that I lost interest.
That was only partly true. The other part is that I was afraid I would lose myself again into the game. I didn’t want to spend so many hours in front of the computer, especially when I was in front of a computer for many hours for work already.
I lost control of my gaming habits when I was younger and I missed out on many opportunities - whether it was socializing with others or just travelling more in the EU. I probably could’ve done that anyway after the first year, but a part of me felt lost when I quit Rusty Hearts cold turkey and I disconnected from my friends - I just wanted to go back somewhere safe, so I kept playing other games and wiled my time until graduation.
Back then, even at graduation, if you asked me if I regretted spending so much time on video games, I would’ve said no. Now? Now I can see that I lost some opportunities for great things, all because I was addicted to getting immersed in video games. If I could go back in time I would change my attitude and my actions (for many things, not just games).
Nowadays I’m more in control of my gaming habits. I recently hit 200 hours of playtime in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but the big difference is that XC2 is one of my few games I have on the Switch - which is practically my only gaming device (the PC is more for web surfing). Even then, the Switch’s portability lets me pick up the game at any time and put it down just as fast - I don’t have to go through the motions of logging into something or turning on ancillary devices. It’s a great system for busy adults.
Still, having seen my record of Rusty Hearts just disappear is disheartening. It was a good reminder of who I used to be, of the dangers of my addictive personality*** and of the dangers of escapism. It sucks, but it makes sense to remove the library page if the game doesn’t exist anymore.
So long as I have my memories of the game, I can keep myself to task. I didn’t regret anything back then; how times have changed.
Do you have any games you regret spending an exorbitant amount of time on? Why?
*My name is not Seymour. It’s a reference to the musical Little Shop of Horrors. It is amazing.
**7 years later and I still regret it. I doubt we would’ve remained friends all this time later, but I wish I left on better terms.
***I recognize that my excessive gaming was my own fault - not everyone