Burnout and Animal Crossing’s Partial Solution

Right, so I’m synthesizing a lot of posts and conversations to get here, but here goes.

I’ve continued to think about the MMO fatigue idea, as have some other bloggers. (Genre Burnout) At the same time, there has been a loosely organized discussion regarding the real-time-based gameplay loop of Animal Crossing, and what that design choice means. (Can You Play a Game Wrong? + Discord) At some point I realized that these two conversations aren’t necessarily unrelated. It helps that I read both of Naithin’s posts back to back.

A case could be made that I generally reach that burnout point because I approach an activity “the wrong way.” I have a long and distinguished history of hyperfocused attention and research followed disappointment when my initial effort does not live up to my expectations. I have grown quite adept at overcoming the latter part of the problem, but typically weaponize the former.

I’m shifting my focus somewhat to blogging, for a second. If I tried to use the hyperfocus to any length, I would very quickly burn out. I can only write so much in a given day and my goals are largely personal and process-driven. If I tried to use metrics such as page views, likes, or whatnot to measure my success, I would be very quickly frustrated. On top of that, forward progress on those metrics is very quickly undone when you break routine. Ultimately, I approach blogging the same way I would Animal Crossing, a slow and measured rhythm with long term goals of my own design.

I’ve begun to wonder, then, if I’m not making the same mistake with other things that I once made with Animal Crossing. Aggressive attacking one specific goal to the point of frustration instead of enjoying a slower and more steady approach. I’ve begun a small experiment in the background where I’m trying to set aside that extremely progress-driven mindset and take a more casual and indirect approach. Enjoy the journey, as it were, rather than rushing the destination. I’m obviously capable of doing so, I’ve just never tried it in this exact context.

It’s not a perfect solution. Animal Crossing is still a game I fade in and out of. There are other parts of the gameplay loop that become tiresome after a while if I allow myself too much optimized routine.

Keeping it short today. Still have to do my data gathering and I can feel my clock slowing down for the day.

Y’all take care, and consider how you approach goals and let me know what you think.

2 thoughts on “Burnout and Animal Crossing’s Partial Solution

  1. Something that has struck me since those posts re: Animal Crossing. If this was a game less universally adored — I bet people would apply the descriptor of… The dreaded ‘g’ word. Yes. I’m going to say it.

    Animal Crossing is a *grind*. 30 Iron which is a resource limited by both time spent and actual real life time passing? Tools that break easier than a damp tissue?

    Put these things into an MMO and people would definitely be crying ‘grind’ and not ‘It’s meant to be played slowly’.

    I’m not saying either view is any more correct than the other. They could both be accurate, depending on your personal perspective. Just an interesting (to me) thing that struck me.

    PS: The shop is now under construction on my island; should be done tomorrow so I can start getting additional residents and the ladder!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, that’s what used to get me with AC. It doesn’t lend itself well to hardcore grind. It’s just not designed for that.

      At the end of the day, grind = time gating. I think it’s funny that the idea is mostly spoken of in the MMO context when it exists in a lot of modern games so they can monetize the time skips.

      Imagine what kind of holy hell would break loose if Nintendo sold “Island Updaters” that would execute the daily update without advancing the time, but costs real money only?


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