There has been quite a lot of discussion on the quick hype-to-decline cycle of MMORPGs recently, here and elsewhere, after that cycle was again demonstrated for both The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar. Even the already derogatory term "three-monther" is sometimes too optimistic. Not many people are still willing to invest years of their lives in a new MMORPG. But is that even surprising?

I've been playing games for over 40 years now. I'm old enough to have grown up with board games instead of video games. I have played many thousands of games over the years. How many games do you think did I play for more than 2 years of my life? It was only three: Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, and World of Warcraft. And of these the only one I'm still playing (after 30 years!) is Dungeons & Dragons. Playing any game for years is the exception. Playing a game for a while until I get bored and move on is the normal situation.

According to Raph Koster's Theory of Fun, we have fun while learning to master a game. Once the learning period is over, that part of the fun disappears. The more games you play, the faster you understand new games, especially if they heavily borrow features from previous games. As complex as a modern MMORPG is, much of that complexity is borrowed from the past. You don't need to learn again what an aggro radius is, or how mobs respawn always at the same locations, because this works in the games of 2014 exactly like it worked in MMORPGs a decade ago.

I was asking myself why Dungeons & Dragons has so much more longevity than other games for me. The answer is relatively simple: With Dungeons & Dragons you never arrive at the point where what happens next is completely predictable. What happens next isn't determined by rules or algorithms, but by humans making playful decisions. And that creates a truly endless variety of possible outcomes. In a computer game human ingenuity is boxed in by the limited actions the game allows you to take, so even a multi-player computer game never reaches the same variety of possible outcomes than a tabletop roleplaying game.

If you wished you had a game that you can play for the next decades to come, I can only very much recommend trying out pen & paper roleplaying games. Now might be a good time to start playing Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, if you never played D&D before. For less than $20 for the Starter Set plus free Basic Rules pdf you could set yourself up for a hobby for a lifetime. And in between you'll still have enough time to flutter like a butterfly from one computer game to the next.

I've been playing games for over 40 years now. I'm old enough to have grown up with board games instead of video games. I have played many thousands of games over the years. How many games do you think did I play for more than 2 years of my life? It was only three: Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, and World of Warcraft. And of these the only one I'm still playing (after 30 years!) is Dungeons & Dragons. Playing any game for years is the exception. Playing a game for a while until I get bored and move on is the normal situation.

According to Raph Koster's Theory of Fun, we have fun while learning to master a game. Once the learning period is over, that part of the fun disappears. The more games you play, the faster you understand new games, especially if they heavily borrow features from previous games. As complex as a modern MMORPG is, much of that complexity is borrowed from the past. You don't need to learn again what an aggro radius is, or how mobs respawn always at the same locations, because this works in the games of 2014 exactly like it worked in MMORPGs a decade ago.

I was asking myself why Dungeons & Dragons has so much more longevity than other games for me. The answer is relatively simple: With Dungeons & Dragons you never arrive at the point where what happens next is completely predictable. What happens next isn't determined by rules or algorithms, but by humans making playful decisions. And that creates a truly endless variety of possible outcomes. In a computer game human ingenuity is boxed in by the limited actions the game allows you to take, so even a multi-player computer game never reaches the same variety of possible outcomes than a tabletop roleplaying game.

If you wished you had a game that you can play for the next decades to come, I can only very much recommend trying out pen & paper roleplaying games. Now might be a good time to start playing Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, if you never played D&D before. For less than $20 for the Starter Set plus free Basic Rules pdf you could set yourself up for a hobby for a lifetime. And in between you'll still have enough time to flutter like a butterfly from one computer game to the next.