I wrote an article last week about a Super Mario Maker player who's spent the last year and a half trying to beat a maniacal level they devised in Nintendo's creation tool. It's taken much longer than he figured. And though he streams his attempts, it seems clear that at this point, his primary goal is proving he can do it. It's certainly not my thing—in fact, I've never made a Mario Maker level, despite pouring hundreds of hours into it!—but I love that someone is that dedicated.
Not everyone thinks that way. On a message board thread about the story, folks (though not everyone) were real quick to chime in how much of a waste it was:
"I'm sure I will receive the requisite hemming and hawing about this but I'll say it anyway: what a grand waste of time."
"But with those 1,500 hours over a year and a half period (probably around 2 when he finishes) he invested into that one level, he probably could have been well on his way to picking up programming to create his own game. Or written a book. Come up with a TV pilot. Or come up with design documents to pitch to a company."
"I'm not in awe of feats like this. I pity them. And not in a condescending way, but out of genuine concern. How shitty must your life be that you'd dedicate it so completely to something so arduous?"
If you look through my body of work, you'll find a history of stories on people spending dozens, hundreds, or thousands of hours accomplishing everything from the mundane (like finding every location in Fallout 4) to solving decades-long mysteries (like grinding to level 999 to open a door in the online MMO, Tibia).
Games draw people into their vortex for different reasons. The reasons behind the attraction drives my curiosity; it's why I keep writing these stories.
It's not how I want to spend my time with games, but who am I to judge? It's their life, it makes them happy. I'm guessing all of us have something we indulge in that'd make others raise an eyebrow. Why not learn from those experiences, instead?
Head over to the forums to talk about it!