The Nomadic Gamer

I believe it was Petter who first used the term (to me in chat) that I now see springing up in games everywhere, you can call it what you will, but we’ve all basically turned into ‘nomadic gamers’. To be more specific: “communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location” – in fact I think this would make a fantastic blog name, so I went and created a new site on wordpress in preparation for an idea I have for 2010.We’ll see how it goes, if it goes anywhere. I haven’t fleshed everything out quite yet.

Anyhow. There’s no denying that as we approach 2010 we’ve turned into nomadic gamers. I know VERY few people who play ONE game and ONLY one game these days. Sure maybe you only play one game at a time, but how long do you play for before you move on to something else? Are you constantly applying to betas and hoping to check out ‘the next big thing’? Maybe you enjoy free to play games which rarely hold your attention for any length of time. Or maybe, like me, you’re writing for work and it’s incredibly important to be up to date on everything that’s going on and to have a wide variety of game experiences under your belt.

When I was playing EverQuest I didn’t play anything else. I’m not sure why. Was it because I was content with the game, or maybe just because I didn’t know about any other games out there (remember, still relatively new to this whole scene). Was the MMO industry so small back then that there simply was no other choice (I know there were other choices, I’m just listing off potential reasons here).

So why is it that we’ve become SO intent on trying every single game out, and while we may return ‘home’ we spend a good portion of time trying out new things. I’m not bashing this method at all, I just find it very interesting.

One thing that really interests me is the fact that while we used to look for communities IN GAME we’ve taken to finding our gaming buddies elsewhere – perhaps in order to compensate for the lack of community we feel within the games themselves. With everyone playing everywhere, it can be hard to find that solid community of long time friends. I, for example, turned to twitter, where I can be friends with a whole slew of gamers no matter what game they’re playing in. Before that I used Xfire to connect to my friends who were all over the place, and Raptr, and other programs that are similar. It’s a method for me to still feel a part of the gaming community, even if I don’t actually have a ‘home’ within the games themselves any more, because I’m all over the place. It’s hard to make friends when you’re not sure if you’re playing a particular game for a week, a month, or maybe just that day.

No matter where you find yourself, the key of course is to have fun. If you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, then don’t do it (unless of course it’s work related, we can’t ALL enjoy every aspect of work all the time, other wise they’d rename work into happy fun time or something similar). I’m still getting used to this nomadic life style of gaming, but it’s been enjoyable. I’m looking forward to what 2010 may bring, and I hope everyone has a great year, no matter what game they find themselves in.

10 Responses to The Nomadic Gamer

  1. Wiqd says:

    I originally played EQ and EQ only, much like yourself. At the time it really was all there was, aside from UO, but EQ was prettier! I played EQ pretty exclusively, trying out a couple other betas and launches along the way, but always playing EQ the whole time. Enter EQ2 and WoW and the evolution of the genre to include not only gaming for the “hardcore” like myself, but also for people who only log in for 30 mins to an hour a day, or every 2 days, or even a week.

    The new games have to take this demographic into consideration so what happens is, people who have been with the genre for a long time get bored due to lack of stuff to do (I do anyway). We branch out to try to fill the void that’s been created with new and exciting stuff (i.e. other games), usually only to be disappointed due to lack of innovation or imagination. So, we return back to see what we’ve missed in our original game of choice, consume the content, then move out again when something shiny pops up.

    Games aren’t really designed to take up ALL of your time anymore. World bosses that are significant are rare nowadays. Aion does this a bit, I think, but not nearly as much as EQ did (since EQ wasn’t instanced until LDON I think). And actually, some of the old “leap-frogging” and kill stealing of bosses has popped up in Aion. As bastardish as it sounds, it makes me smile and remember the “good ol’ days” ;)

  2. Brian Inman says:

    I used to be dedicated to just one game until the last few years. I played EQ for 2 years, DAOC for 2 years, Wow for 2 years, and now I have been all over the map. I just haven’t found a new game that just hooks me. I seem to really get burned out quickly. Right now believe it or not I am actually enjoying playing online Poker the most. What does that say about how sad the MMO market is these days.

  3. Blue Kae says:

    Nomad gamer, I like that much better than WoW tourist.

    I’ve always been a nomadic gamer, I think the only reason I stayed with EQ so long initially is because there weren’t any other options (never liked UO’s graphics). Once I started DAoC I was too burned out on EQ to ever go back. Currently, there are so many MMOs that you could play one a month and not repeat yourself for quite a while. I’m personally alternating between three: LoTRO, Champions, and EVE. The nice thing is each one fills a specific niche and I never consciously switch between them, I just play whichever one I’m in the mood for. One of the benefits of having lifetime subscriptions is I don’t have to feel guilty about carrying multiple subscriptions.

    Looking forward to what you have in mind for 2010 with the new site. You’re last paragraph is great advice for games, blogging, and anything else not related to getting a paycheck to support yourself.

  4. Pennie says:

    All of my friends who are gamers (as opposed to friends I’ve gotten from games) are migratory, and it’s always bugged me. I don’t know why it bothers me, but I’ve been the consistent one (first eq, then eq2. If I’m not on eq2, I’m not online. Well, until recently. I might be on wizard101 lately.) So they load eq2, play for 3-4 weeks, and then are off to the next “big” thing, leaving the echoes of “I love this game. I don’t know why I ever left!” bouncing around my guild hall. I’ll see them again in 6 months or so. It’s like watching the geese heading south for the winter.

  5. MrAnderson says:

    Even when I spend a lot of time in a single virtual world, I have always sort of considered myself a vagabond mmo player. I tend to wander from place to place and back again, chasing the next new (or old) thing that catches my fancy. Heck even with spending close to four years of play Time in WoW, I have found time to play in 30+ mmos(closing in on 40 if you count MUDs). Time to dig into my birthday cake Though this wandering is not limited to mmos, but all games. I tend to start way more games than I ever finish; wandering back and forth as they strike me.

    Thus I embrace the terms “vagabond gamer” and “nomad gamer”.

  6. Gozad says:

    My first MMO was Anarchy Online, where I spent a solid 2 years in Free Souls, without being tempted away by EQ or other early games. After awhile, half the org (guild) drifted off to seek greener pastures and new experiences in various other MMO’s. I decided to try Vanguard, and glad I did. It became my second MMO and I found a great home in Safe Haven there. To this day those are the only two games I ever played to end game and max level. After Vanguard, I experienced this Nomadic Gamer phenom, drifting from MMO to MMO, LOTRO, WoW, EQ2, looking for that elusive community or game that would rival those early days. I had some great experiences, but yea it’s just not the same as back in the day when people chose one MMO and made it their home. I miss those days with a fond nostalgia, but I just can’t seem to settle on a new home now. Maybe too many choices? I can’t say for sure, but I am enjoying what the world of gaming has to offer and hope someday to settle in one little corner of the MMO world, at least for a little while, until greener pastures come calling again… :)

  7. Beau Turkey says:

    How weird that I was, just today, thinking of a way to describe a player that skips around game to game. Thank you, NOW I will have something! :) I think it’s just curiosity, most people should have it but some of us just have it worse than others! hehe


  8. Petter says:

    Pete needs a Gravatar., stat!

    I would love nothing more than to find a new home in the MMO genre. For a long time, that home was WoW – but since I left that game, the only thing that beckons me back is the friends that have a tendency to pick it up over and over again. I’ve been pretty much on my own since I started to branch out, only finding guilds with people I don’t know IRL compared to my days in WoW when me and my friends found ourselves suddenly running the guild we had joined together…

    Making the move over to American servers in both LotRO and EQ2 was probably the best decision I’ve done in a long time. Considering Scop’s comment above, I think I better start logging into EQ2 more – thank you SOE for the free time and to Steam for the great deal on EQ2!

    But you sum it up pretty well. Twitter has been really great – there’s a solid MMO community there, with more and more people coming in all the time. I love finding a new follower/person to follow on Twitter that joins in the discussion. And Beu’s MMOvoices rock as well for finding good people to game with. Perhaps it’s only natural that when we dig ourselves deeper and deeper into the MMO-sphere, we have to start looking elsewhere for the people who are as nomadic as we are.

    Next project is probably getting Pete back into EQ2…

  9. Pete S says:

    I’ve always been a nomad, though that extends beyond MMOs and into hobbies and interests in general. I’ve been diagnosed (by a psychiatrist, not a self-diagnosis) as having adult ADD and whether or not I believe that condition even exists as a medical condition (the doc that diagnosed me literally wrote a book on the subject, Driven to Distraction) the symptoms certainly fit. I’m always flitting from one thing to the next.

    In Ye Olden Dayes there was nothing to flit to in the MMO space so I was more apt to stay with one game, but now with so many choices, I’ve always been distracted by the next shiny thing.

    Although recently that hasn’t been as true. Maybe it’s just burnout though. I’ve been playing LOTRO pretty much be ‘default’ although I’ve been playing it more like how some folks play Minesweeper or Solitaire… just a mindless way to pass the time.

  10. Scopique says:

    Great snapshot of this situation. I’ve also been wandering from game to game over the years. My freinds and I used to play UO exclusively, but as you mentioned, back then there wasn’t a lot of choice. Alternatives were UO, EQ, AC and eventually DaoC and a handful of others that never really made it onto radar screens (Neocron, anyone?).

    I’ve personally never been able to figure out WHY I feel the need to move from game to game. My friends gave up on MMOs (with a few clinging almost exclusively to WoW, which I suspect has more to do with the time they’ve already invested over any fealty to the game itself), so I’ve been a solitary “MMO hobo”.

    Taking the long view, the games that I’ve played the longest turned out to be those in which I’ve managed to fall in with a good group. In Vanguard, it was the Ascension guild (when it faded away due to RL concerns, I eventually faded away from VG), in EVE it was my local friends (although there was varying levels of interest which caused people to drift away). Right now, I’m feeling that same sense of comfortable place with EQ2 and the #EQ2Tweets group, so much so that I’m canceling my other subscriptions to focus on EQ2 exclusively.

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