Gaming as a hobby has grown and evolved over the years, but one constant is that real world distractions while gaming are annoying at best, and limit immersion at worst. As gamers, we like to go all in, and get fully immersed in the world, characters or even just the online match we happen to be caught up in. Anything that distracts us from the experience only serves to anchor us to this world and make full immersion more difficult. I mean, let’s face it: any and all distractions while gaming are unwelcome, but here are the top 10 moments when it is particularly imperative that we are not disturbed.
10. While Watching the Credits
My now ex never understood the concept of immersion and not being disturbed while gaming in general, and likely never will. However, there are parts of the overall gaming experience that elude even some gamers, as they don’t appeal to everyone. Watching the credits roll at the end of a game is one such part.
When the credits roll, I like to reflect on the game I just played, and the importance of this reflection period is proportionate to the length of the game I have just completed. If the game is only a few hours long, then I might not be so uptight about having to sit and watch the credits. If the game is over a hundred hours long, then you can bet that I’ll be irritable if someone or something disturbs me. Also, sometimes there are after credits scenes and I don’t want to miss those.
I’m well aware that only some gamers observe this particular ritual, but it provides closure before I wade through my massive backlog to figure out what I wish to play next. Plus, I have to admit that I have a bad track record with sometimes not completing games, and there is a strong correlation between the length of the game and the likelihood of me not completing it. Seeing the credits gives me a sense of accomplishment, especially if I’m able to complete a behemoth such as an RPG that could span hundreds of hours. Watching the credits may not mean something to everyone but it does to me.
9. While Shopping for Games
Game shopping may not technically be part of the actual gaming experience per se, but it is still part of the overall gamer experience and one I might be a little too fond of. Seriously, my family thinks I have a problem while I insist that it’s called a game collection and having a large one brings prestige, even if I may never get around to playing a good chunk of them. I never said being a gamer makes sense all the time, but that’s not important.
Whether I’m at a brick and mortar retailer, shopping on Amazon or perusing the digital storefronts of my favourite systems, I’m in my happy place. If there’s ever a PSN Flash Sale or any other sale for that matter, I’m in an even happier place. If I’m browsing a digital storefront, I may even be immersed in a string of game trailers.
Regardless though, I don’t enjoy being disturbed. My brain is occupied in the absolutely crucial decision of what I should add to my backlog so that I can maybe play it one day, or maybe just look at it. It may not make a lot of sense, but game shopping is something all gamers do at some point and I often get just as immersed in it as I do in actually playing games.
8. Looking Up a FAQ
I’ll be the first to admit, I can’t always figure out puzzles in games right away, or where I should go next, or what a boss’s pattern is, or any number of other things. I also openly admit that while there was a time where I stubbornly refused to use a FAQ until I felt like I approached an in-game situation from all possible angles my brain could conjure up, those days are long gone and I now often just try something a couple times and look up a FAQ right away if I don’t have immediate luck.
FAQing a game is not technically part of the actual gaming experience either, but it kind of is as I’m only looking at a FAQ or walkthrough or guide or whatever term you want to use so that I can figure out what to do next and get right back to the game I’m playing. It’s a necessary self-imposed distraction, and one I want to get over with as soon as possible to minimize the immersion killing. I’m not big on math but I think if there were a scatter plot, there would be a strong correlation between time away from the game and how much I’m taken out out of the experience.
Long story short I’m already distracted, but I’m also just as occupied in the pursuit of a solution to a particular roadblock in a game. It goes without saying that I’m still irritated by further distractions at this time. In fact, it would be just as irritating as if I were distracted while concentrating on an in-game puzzle without seeking external solutions. My friend who always texts me after he gets off work is one such offender.
7. Character Customization or Stat/Skill Allocation
I pride myself on being able to make the most attractive female characters in games with character customization menus. I think I might spend a little too much time getting things right, but hey, I accepted the challenge of creating an attractive Caucasian female Ryder that suits the character’s voice, and succeeded. I can spend an inordinate amount of time on a male character’s appearance too. Few things annoy me more than being distracted while I’m in the wonderful world of making characters look how I want, besides the remaining entries on this list.
Perhaps even worse is when I’m playing an RPG and I’m deciding which skills to spend stat points on. I’m immersed in the strategic planning that could shape my character going forward. It doesn’t even have to be stats either. Maybe I’m deciding which skill one of my many personas should forget to make room for a new one. The point is, I’m busy at that time and don’t want to be bothered.
This one depends on the gamer, but I’m a gamer who places a lot of importance on a game’s story. Well…that’s not entirely true as if the story is an afterthought for the game in question and just an excuse to slaughter enemies then that’s what it is to me too. But, if the story is central to a game’s overall experience then it’s important enough to me that I even put subtitles on.
I also prefer silence. If distracted I often feel the need to replay a part just so I can see the cutscene again, even if it was an intense boss battle where I just came out on top. In fact, if I just defeated a difficult boss, I probably place even more importance on the following cutscene. Actually, in recent years I’ve alternatively re-watched cutscenes on YouTube, but I don’t like doing that either, especially if the only footage is some d-bag’s LP where he talks over it. I just prefer to properly absorb a cutscene the first time I watch it, and that means no distractions. I’m looking at you neighbour who likes to mow the lawn on sunny afternoons.
5. Intense Stages
Perhaps the term “stage” only applies to certain games, but any part of any game that’s intense requires equally intense concentration. Maybe there are difficult enemies surrounding the player character, which could be affected by the game’s difficulty setting. Maybe getting from one checkpoint or save point to another takes a good chunk of time. Maybe I just haven’t saved in a while, though that’s on me. Regardless though, dying is something to avoid.
There may be options for watching cutscenes again, but that’s an easy part. Having to redo entire segments of a game is frustrating and it’s better if we can minimize that. Of course that’s often when the cat likes to walk in front of the screen.
4. Anything With Timing or Precision
It doesn’t matter if it’s a puzzle game, platformer, shooter or hack and slash. Most genres of games have moments that require some kind of precision or timing, whether it be lining up some blocks or trying to line up the perfect headshot, and don’t get me started on some platforming sequences, especially if there are bottomless pits involved. Music and rhythm games are pretty much all precision and timing. It goes without saying that QTEs and trying to pull off a 32-part button combo are also on the list.
If there was ever a time not to be disturbed, it’s when even the vibration of my phone can throw me off. If it’s my job then fair enough but otherwise, I can talk later. In the words of Mr. Drippy, “Flipping heck man!”
3. Boss Battles
Yes, being bothered during boss battles is particularly bothersome. Well, maybe not early boss battles as they’re usually easy, but I’m thinking of late game boss battles and especially optional side-bosses. One wrong move could make the difference between being able to carry on or being completely done for. Some boss battles could take a half hour or more to complete. Imagine losing a half hour of progress because some campaigner on behalf of the party I’m not voting for just happens to stop by. Ugh.
It doesn’t matter if the battle is active or turn-based. Active boss battles require precision and timing, and memorization of patterns. One wrong move could bring the curtain down on the player. Turn-based battles may actually be even more challenging in some cases as there will be many moves made throughout the course of the fight, and all of them have to be right. Also, the player must have contingency plans for if the boss uses X, Y or Z move. Regardless though, it’s times like these when a do not disturb sign could come in handy.
2. At Moments of Intense Concentration
Once in awhile I can enter into a state of intense concentration. It doesn’t happen very often, and retro style games seem to trigger it more often than other types of games, but every so often I enter into what could best be described as the ultimate zen state. I don’t even always realize I’m in it, but somehow the world around me disappears entirely and it’s just me and the game. It happened more often in my teen years, but it can still happen now.
Suddenly, I can clear parts of a game I might have otherwise found difficult with relative ease. It’s almost as if I can’t fail. It’s amazing when it happens, and it has certainly helped me get through some challenging games in the past, or assisted me in acquiring some challenging trophies.
If something interrupts me at that time, I will probably not be able to enter into that state a second time. Moreover, if I exit out of that state on my own terms, likely after completing a touch sequence and deciding to take a break, I feel well rested, as if I had actually slept instead of playing a game. If I’m interrupted on the other hand, I often feel a migraine coming on which is all the more reason why I shouldn’t be bothered. Thankfully I’m usually more resistant to external stimuli at that point in time, if not outright oblivious to them, but it is possible to snap me out of it and suffice to say, I’m not happy when I am.
1. While Playing Online
I can’t imagine what else could take the number one spot, but it probably goes without saying that it doesn’t matter what kind of game I’m playing. If I’m online, I can’t pause the game, and my ranking is constantly on the line. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing a FPS or fighting game. The world can wait. In fact if the rest of the world can turn off or go on standby, aside from those playing the game with me of course, that would be great. Alas, that’s not how the world works.
I mean, I have to best the other player(s)/team, and there’s no possible way I can take a break, unless I’m between matches. Of course, if I’m on a streak I can’t even take a break then as that may throw me off, and I absolutely must keep going. Online play is arguably the ultimate ‘do not disturb’ time while gaming.
Do you agree with my list? Are there any other parts of the gaming experience where you don’t like to be disturbed while gaming? As always, feel free to leave your comments below.