Boredom

“Your kids don’t know how to be bored.”

My father said this to me a few years ago, and unusually, he was right.

He wasn’t suggesting my kids needed the ability to quietly accept boredom as some sort of badge of self-punishment. He meant that they didn’t seem to be able to rectify boredom for themselves.

Aside from school, my wife shuffles our children from one scheduled activity to another all week. In between are many visits to and from friends and family. If they stop and idle in place for a moment, she drags them out on a bike ride or to visit a park or to get some treat from the shops. Any time left over will generally find them glued to their precious screens or demanding food.

They are always getting attention and never having to entertain themselves.

Every so often however, on school holidays when my wife has had to return to work, the kids get boring time at home with Dad. It is a small window for them to detox a little from their hyper busy lives and just relax. It is also when I try to teach them how to be bored. It has not been easy, and my success limited.

I wonder how much of an issue CCP has with this in EVE.

CCP is now competing in a world where there is a bewildering amount of entertainment available on demand when and almost wherever you want it. When it comes to games, I still find it astonishing how many enjoyable and usually free to get into games there are in the iOS and Android platforms. You don’t even need to think for yourself – there is always a chain of tweets, or articles, or posts or reviews that point you towards the next great time sink.

That is the world most of us now live in. My kids have known nothing else. When I was a kid I had a modest collection of Star Wars Figures, Lego, Army Men, Hot-Wheel cars, colored pencils and a cricket bat which kept me entertained for many years’ worth of school holidays. I remember days spent in the garden with huge combat bases carved into the dirt, and the hard lesson of toys being buried or chewed up by the dogs if you were not careful with where you left them. My kids have much bigger collections of the same stuff – but it barely provides them 5 minutes of distraction here and there, and then often only under sufferance.  As I said – they expect their entertainment to be served up without much thought or effort on their behalf.

How does EVE fit into such a world – especially after the initial excitement and enthusiasm wains. They offer up a sandpit game where you are to entertain yourself. I know CCP pushes the social game and acknowledges the content drivers and providers. I love reading The Ancient Gaming Noob, and how he is able to be alerted to what fleets are operating and to log in for some sort of guaranteed EVE content. It is such a different game to what I play – even if some days it sounds like an hour or two of watching cats being herded around space.  I see the failure in that approach however when those social groups break down. I also see it doesn’t support the hermit players.

At the moment my EVE time is really disjointed and constrained. I feel my options are limited, and it is easy to fall into the trap of doing a bit of ship spinning then logging off bored. That’s what my kids would do – they would discard EVE and be chasing the next shiny bauble. Once they attain that, it will be discarded for the next and so on.

Instead I know EVE can be rewarding, so when I have some free time I will go look for entertainment in it. I’ll try to catch up on some of my blog reading, looking for some inspiration and ideas. I’ll undock and clear the local exploration sites. Occasionally I’ll get a faction spawn with some nice loot, or an escalation that sees me flying across the region or having to slip into Low Sec. I’ve been half AFK mining a lot lately in a Skiff, just because by being logged in I’m available if something turns up. (In recent weeks it was Operation Frostline sites appearing on my overview.) The other day I went to clone jump my alt into NPC Null to check the market and mistakenly clicked on an empty hi-sec clone instead. That saw me fly over to Jita and get lost for hours in reviewing implant options and costs. It doesn’t make for interesting blog posts, but like I did as a kid, I have been taking control of my own entertainment.

I’m not sure how I can get my kids to do the same.  I’m not sure how CCP can get the younger adults of today to do it either.

(As an aside, the game that has most successfully held my kid’s attention over the years has been Minecraft. They don’t play it every day any more, but regularly something will trigger their interest and they will be immersed in it again. CCP could put more Minecraft into New Eden. Just imagine the Citadels that would pop up in space.)