First off: the title of this piece is a legitimate question. How do you walk away from a game? Whether you have had a good time, or could never really connect with it, how do you put the game down? And better still, how do you decide to put it down for good?
Much factors into my decisions to put certain pieces of media aside. There is an investment to be considered. Did I pay $60 for this game? $40? How many hours of my life have I invested in said game? Too many to turn back? Where is that friction point? Have I had a good time with it? Am I still having a good time with it?
Today I am specifically referring to Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I have now been playing the game for more than a year. In the first 365 days, I missed only two, and those were because I was very ill. The last I checked my total playtime, it was over 800 hours. That’s so many hours!
After I started thinking about all that time spent in a digital world, I wondered how much more time I would be willing to invest. So I started tapering off the time I spent in the game. Instead of checking in daily on Xanadu (my town), I started popping in every other day. Occasionally I skipped two days. Then one day when I was back in town, I found out one of my favorite townsanimals (Rod) was moving.
The algorithm in the game has a different animal approach you each week about leaving. You have the option to persuade them to stay (which I usually did), or to wish them well on their way (good riddance, Eugene!). However, if you miss talking to them in the allotted time, they automatically decide to move. So when I logged back in, Rod was already packing. This effected me more than I thought it would.
I just loved Rod. A sweet little fitness-minded mouse, he was there from the time I first started my town.
I miss that dude.
And then the next week, another of my initial townsanimals decided to move. When Flora moved away I started to question just how I wanted to approach the game from now on. Do I start putting regular time in again so more wonderful critters don’t move away? Or do I take this as the impetus I had been looking for to set the game down for good?
I realize this game has a bit more of a hold on me then some others do. I mean, I helped to build this town up. I developed friendships with these animals and now the majority of them consider us “best friends.” We have seen the seasons together, participated in fishing and bug tournaments together, and done the Shrunk Funk Shuffle together. We are digitally connected.
Can I leave them to fend for themselves? Can I allow Xanadu to flounder into apocalyptic ruin? Can I bear my townsanimals starving and running from all the weeds in town and cockroaches in their homes?
The only decision I can come to is that I have to either rip the band-aid off and set the game aside for a sizable chunk of time, or I accept that I am now tied to this game for…ever. Which feels improbable.
So I am curious, how do people decide to put a game away? Please let me know in the comments if you are so inclined.
And now, I am going to celebrate this confusion of mine by playing a little more Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel with my brother. Cheers, friends!