Nefchast makes note of the way that EVE allows for players to make progress even while not actively “playing” over here:
…and it reminded me of a post over at the Armor Games blog that asked if players liked “minimal interaction” games. (They are notable for Gemcraft, a great Flash Tower Defense game that has a nice AFK flavor to it if you want it to.)
As an old-school Incredible Machine guy, with a deep love of strategy and planning, with a fairly constrained schedule and kids that may need attention at a moment’s notice, I really like games that fall into the “fire and forget” category. Similarly, I love tactical turn-based games. Yes, I’m a Chess geek, too, though I can’t get my family to play with me any more. There’s just something terribly satisfying seeing a plan come to fruition, especially if it’s because foresight leveraged and magnified precise effort.
Does that mean I’d make a good criminal mastermind, manipulating events from the shadows, never getting my hands dirty? Would such make for satisfying game design? Hmm… forget Grand Theft Auto, I want to play Grand Theft Government. Then again, the bankers beat me to it.
Maybe my penchant for AFK gaming just makes me lazy, but I tend to think it just means I’m exercising a different part of my body. Games that require planning and foresight make my brain happy, even as they don’t require much in the way of physical skill. As I’m a pretty cerebral sort to start with, such a clear preference shouldn’t be a huge surprise.
It should be noted that I do like games that require full attention, too, just at different times. Variety and options, that’s what I keep calling for.
As for MMOs, I’ve noted before that I spend an inordinate amount of time planning things and actually studying the game; far more than I actually play them, as it happens. It’s partly the dev mindset, partly just the sort of gamer I am.
Still… if you could automate the mind-numbing grind in these DIKU MMOs, and do so without shady black market captive labor, would you? Would it be better to just get rid of the grind? Also, how does AFK gaming coincide with the whole “we’ve gotta make these players play with other people because this is an MMO, dangit” mentality? (Note: I don’t like that mentality, siding firmly with Saylah, but still…)
…could you level up by chatting? Now there’s an incentive to socialize.