Prisoner’s (Gaming) Dilemma

BINGO was postponed for a week, but I’m not even mad. Seeing the shit Blizzard is getting on the forums every time they introduce another flying mount is payment enough. For now.

Let us set that aside for a moment.

So I was presented with two hypothetical scenarios over the weekend which I found interesting for reasons. The first one was this: you’re going to jail for ten years, but it’s a minimum security prison that will allow you to take one offline game (any DLC included) with you. But that will be the only game you get for those ten years. Which game do you pick?

The second scenario is similar, but this time it’s life in prison. For some insane reason, the Warden will allow you to take any three games and allow an internet connection. The parameters did not specify whether future DLC or microtransactions will be free for you, but let’s assume you can make enough money stamping licence plates to cover, say, $30/month. Which games do you pick?

The answer to the first scenario was pretty much unanimous amongst my fellow hypothetical jail mates: Minecraft. There was a Skyrim holdout in there, but ten years is a long time and I don’t think mods could extend the attention of even the staunchest Skyrim fan that long.

The second scenario answer was more diverse, with my friend solidly in the Destiny camp (which is his current console mini-MMO game of choice). Mine was more blunt: World of Warcraft. Yes, even with bile I feel towards Flightgate, I have to admit that WoW is a game A) most likely to still be around and supported for decades to come, and B) one offering the most diverse playing experiences. In other words, you could spend a lot of time getting real good at raiding, master it, and then set off to roll the boulder up the PvP hill and feel a difference.

I found my own responses interesting primarily because I don’t particularly like playing either of them. The last time I seriously played Minecraft was before they introduced the Hunger meter; it may not have even been out of beta yet. I am still “playing” WoW currently, but it’s in the same way I play Clash of Clans: short bursts of activity to kill time, because apparently I’m going to live forever and have no standards. Or perhaps it’s because if I devoted the whole of my free time to one game, I’d probably clear three games a week, and the corresponding post-game depression phase three times. No thanks.

Still, what does that really say about me, and presumably us, that we aren’t simply playing these games full-time? That we could conceivably be playing them for 10+ years, but would rather not to? Obviously the intensity of a novel experience is higher with new games, so it makes sense that we enjoy playing the newer ones more (at least for a while). But here are these other games which clearly are mechanically superior in a replayability sense and we, or I, don’t seem to care. Until we’re in jail, anyway.

In any case, I’d be interested to hear other peoples’ choices in these two scenarios. For me, it’s Minecraft for the first, then Minecraft, WoW, and Counter-Strike for the second. I thought about swapping Magic Online with Minecraft in the second set, but the $30/month limit, while arbitrary, still wouldn’t cover hardly any reasonable amount of gametime.

Posted on June 9, 2015, in Miscellany and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Do you have web access or can the Internet only be used for the game? Because if not, are you really going to play WoW without add-ons and without guides?


    • If there is unfettered access to the internet, then I likely wouldn’t even need games at all, really. So for these purposes, I’d say you could get add-on updates but not guides. Although you could certainly ask other people.


      • But the rule of MMO is that:
        – If other people are in game they are all idiots and know nothing.
        – If other people write a guide outside of the game that guide must be followed religiously. And everyone who doesn’t do that is an idiot.

        How would asking other people in game help? :-)


  2. I found myself leaning toward roguelikes for the first scenario. One download, complete package, multiple races/classes and procedural generation for variety and varying difficulty. The only issue was which: Dwarf Fortress is a big deal, but I still haven’t figured out how to best play it (suppose prison would give me lots of time to figure that out), or the granddaddy Nethack, or Tales of Maj’Eyal (ToME) which is a more modern favorite.

    Probably ToME if backed into a corner, and if internet ever became available, it is also capable of going online and providing chatroom company.

    For the second scenario, Minecraft, Dota 2 and GW2.

    I need my mods in Minecraft, so internet to download the ever changing variety is essential, but that would definitely last a lifetime. Ditto Dota 2, folks been playing it 10+ years and it’s still deep as hell with a ton to learn, but you need an internet connection. GW2 may or may not last 10+ years, but GW1 sets a decent precedent and while it lasts, there’s a great variety of things to do. Just need that internet for updates.


    • I would definitely pick GW2 because GW2 is the only game that always cheers me up. The world in GW2 just radiates happiness. And that’s probably the most important thing in that situation.


    • For the first scenario, I would be looking at broadly-defined roguelikes, as well, and Dwarf Fortress has crossed my mind, too. In the end, though, I might go with some Paradox Interactive or Civilisation type strategy game with high replayability. Minecraft does offer crazy levels of entropy, but even with advanced redstone and magic shenanigans there’s just too much toy and not enough game for my taste.

      For the second… given the availability of mods, Mount and Blade: Warband (or Bannerlord, if it comes out before I am condemned) would actually be a consideration for one of the three. EVE instead of WoW: in the bleakness of the clink, I’d crave the human contact and human drama, and I’d have the time and incentive to master its systems. And, yeah, some nostalgia online shooter, CS being as good as anything.


  3. Scenario 1 is hard, one game isn’t enough for 2 years, much less 10. Maybe something like Civ V, though Diablo 2 wouldn’t be terrible either.

    Scenario 2 is probably Diablo 3, Hearthstone, and some other, maybe WoW but maybe something more hardcore since there is nothing else to do with my time. No game is likely to be supported for a whole lifetime though.


  4. Civ V (or IV) for Scenario 1.
    Hands down, I’ve played civ and it’s variations more than any other game.
    I’ve done around 60 hours in Skyrim allup- I’ve spent 40 hours on a single game of Civ.
    The mod support is awesome, it’s got a scenario editor built in, and the core game is replay friendly forever.
    Secnario 2 – If I’ve got the internet, I can live without games..


  5. Scenario 1: M&B Warband, followed by Civ V in distant second (not because Civ V wouldn’t last me 10 years, but because M&B is simply that good).

    Scenario 2: EVE, LoL, FFXIV. Honestly just EVE would do, as unlimited time and very limited options would result in being a master EVE player, and that itself would be near-infinite entertainment.


  6. Hard question. For the first, yes probably Minecraft as well. All this assuming that compilers don’t count as “games”, otherwise I’d follow Rohan :)

    For the second one the big problem is not the “fun”, but the “still be around long”. So I’d probably choose WoW and Ryzom. Ryzom is dead, but the game is already running on a volunteer-based approach and it’s open source, so it’ll probably survive for eternity. You can also run a server locally and rebuild the entire world, if you really feel like it. For the third one I’d say EVE, another title which has been around long.


  7. dachengsgravatar

    I’m still playing Age of Empires II (Age of Kings) so that one has easily lasted me 15 years already (it got a new lease of life as Age of Empires II: HD Edition just a couple of years ago, and is now available on Steam). I’d also still be playing “Shogun: Total War” if I still had a computer that would run it. So it’s easier than you might think to be entertained by a computer game for 10 years.

    For life, though? I think my choice is Age of Empires, Don’t Stave Together, and my MMO would have to be Earth Online


  8. Is it going to be solitary confinement? If not, I’d bring something with hotseat/co-op capability.


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