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It's pretty common practice to label most MMO goals as "a carrot on a stick", but I recently came to fully understand why this is so bad. I found myself chasing the carrot, so to speak, because I imagined that I'd be having more fun once I got it. The truth is... I'm not. Once I get the carrot, there's just another one. I somehow keep talking myself into playing more on the prospect of future fun. That future is just a hologram, and the problem is that I never seem to be having fun in the present. Isn't that the point of video games... to have fun right now? School and work are for delayed pleasure.
At some point, the mentality has changed from: I'm going to play to have fun. To: I just need to get this item, or achieve this, and then I can have fun. Is it just me, or is that kind of messed up? You're taking time away from your busy life just to be even busier in a different one. I think what I'm going to start doing from now on is asking myself if I'm actually having fun every 20 minutes or so. If I can't honestly answer 'yes', then I'm not going to keep playing. If everyone adopted this policy, then developers and publishers may have to rethink their game design.