Aka Ironyca Stood in the Fire – gaming blog
Several players described playing alone as particularly relaxing, fx when farming (but also questing as in pt 2).
Farming denotes activities in WoW that include gathering of resources, f. ex. picking herbs, mining or fishing, but also performing repetitive tasks such as completing the same dungeon over and over often for a rare item. A defining feature is the repetitive nature of this activity, and this is also the reason farming remains a disputed affair, where some despise it while others enjoy it.
Dromdum: when I am having a bad day lot of stress I enjoy fishing with my headset on with very loud music.
Farming is suitable when you want to fill up gaps up time, it’s easy to step in and out of and of course, it’s one of the activities some players find relaxing.
Ironyca: What do you usually do in a play session?
Fidell: I guess it varies. I make sure I only play three times a week if I can, as I work full time and have quite an intense job. So this chills me out. I am starting this new char and on my mains, working on achievements unless raid night.
At the same time, one can wonder why players would choose to play WoW for relaxation, when there are much shorter and simpler games available on the internet.
Kallio et al. presents in At Least Nine Ways to Play: Approaching Gamer Mentalities (2010) that if you play for relaxation, the most important factor of game selection is familiarity . This suggests that even very complicated and time consuming games can be played with a ‘‘casual mentality’’ if you’re familiar with the game and know how to use it to serve your own needs.
Not everyone would seek to play alone for the sake of tranquility, as became evident when interviewing players on PvP realms. On these realms, players can attack and be attacked almost anywhere in the game world with very few exceptions. This adds a sense of danger and unpredictability to playing alone as the player only has themselves to count on.
There’s reason to believe that players sometimes seek to play alone in order to affect their emotional state, whether it’s to heighten it or calm it down. Quoting Calleja in Digital Games as Designed Experience: Reframing the Concept of Immersion (2007):
If one’s emotional state is considered to be negative, understimulated persons will tend to choose media content that is arousing whereas overstimulated persons tend to choose calmer media content. Games offer a variety of participatory means of affecting mood as well as allowing players to tweak game settings to bring about the desired affective change. If MMOGs are limited in the players’ ability to change difficulty levels and other game settings, they make up for this by providing a wide variety of activities that can often suit the needs of different emotional states.
The strength lies in knowing how to make use of WoW, to relax or to get a kick. This can also explain why farming can sometimes be calming and other times boring. Here it’s less about whether you’re social or not, but more about how you feel, if you need to wind down or the opposite, then WoW can offer several ways to do that.