When A Game Becomes Work

Daily, Wyatt and I have been playing Supercell’s Clash Royale since early December. Clash Royale, for those who do not know, is a game that features a combination of card collecting and tower defense, all set against a multiplayer battle arena. We’ve played with people around the world, battling for dominance and upgrades.

The other night, Wyatt confessed to me, “I think I’m ready to quit Clash Royale. I’ll hand over leadership of our guild to someone else… perhaps to the guy who plays a lot.”

I proceeded to give him a hard time about playing the game, faithfully, everyday (I was joking). But I couldn’t stop the nagging in the back of my head, did Wyatt have a point?

“Why do you want to quit?”

“The game just isn’t fun anymore and feels like work.”

Every morning, I get up, get dressed, and drive to work. At work I assist people, order supplies, and run an office. I do this so that twice a month, I receive a pay check.

My relationship with video games is entirely different. With video games, I play for entertainment. I play to experience:

  • The joy of the precise controls of Mario.
  • The drama of Nathan Drake and friends in the Uncharted series.
  • The pure awe and wonder of the worlds explored in Guardians of the Galaxy.

I play to experience time periods and places I will never travel to; I play to experience storytelling and gameplay that comes together in a way that transcends a controller. Video games are an escape for me. Small moments in time where I can be a cowboy, a futuristic mail carrier, or even a pirate. What video games are not is work.

Logging into Clash Royale to finish the daily tasks, I wonder if I am still having fun. Or if playing the game has simply become an obligation.

When a game becomes work, when it isn’t fun anymore, why play?

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