MMOs require a substantial time investment if you expect to get anywhere in them. You're not really going to enjoy them if you try to do the casual 1-2 hour per day method. You can easily spend that much time just preparing for an event or waiting around for other people to sign on.
In all honesty, MMOs require commitments similar to what you would find at a real job, or even a relationship. Sounds silly until you've actually experienced one. I am still embarrassed at my /playtime, and now I don't even bother looking at it. I have put more time and effort into this "game" than some of my personal relationships. I could probably be married and living the white-picket fence American dream if I focused this much on finding love instead of finding pop items and NMs.
If I wasn't able to say that I have a job, go to the gym, eat healthy, and am able to look at clock and realize it's time to sign off, I'd say that I was addicted to this game. I've already questioned that once before. Perhaps I'm just a functional addict, if there is such a thing. What's funny is that I still haven't figured out why I spend so much time here. I have honestly spent a lot of time trying to understand my reasons for continuing to stay in Vana'diel. A large portion of it was because of my "friends." I put that in quotes because out of every person I associate with in this game, only three out of thousands have ever associated with me on a truly personal level. Of those three, I have only ever met one. While I do have the phone numbers of a few people, we've never actually talked. Most communication is spent via text message or IMs.
Of course, I do take responsibility for some of that distance. Part of it is due to my hesitation to let people in, and another is because that as awesome as some people are in-game, their real-life persona doesn't always match their in-game awesomeness. Selfish as it may be, there are just some people that I prefer to keep a good opinion of. Anyway, the gap between myself and my digital associates is ever expanding. Server transfers, linkshell schedules, sign-on times, and just the reality of life itself can sometimes make those strong bonds begin to wither away. Maybe that would be different if I were a part of a single linkshell for my entire time and became close with the people there, but that didn't happen for me.
Another reason I play is for the story. I can't say it enough: I'm a sucker for a story, even a cheesy one. XI is no different, and I wanted to do every event solely for the story involved. The quest rewards were nice, but I still haven't collected every reward for the events I've done. I'd much rather enjoy the story than worry about an item. Where's the story now though? The only one left is Wings of the Goddess. As hopeful as I was in the beginning for a new tale with Abyssea, that story doesn't seem exist. Well, it does, but it's hardly what I would consider an interesting tale. The despair of the people and struggle for survival I found while exploring has been overshadowed by restrictive time limits and the urge to get the latest must-have items until the next update renders it useless.
With that being said, why bother? I am the first person to admit that this experience has absolutely frustrated the living hell out of me. Reading this blog is a testament to that fact. I have never bitched this much about anything in my entire life, and that is not an exaggeration. Before I had to leave the game for that week while I worked extra, I posted about my frustration with this last update. For the time that I was gone, I still thought about the game. Not a lot, but I still thought about it. Once I came back, what did I do? I spent my time leveling. Almost all of my jobs are 85 now, and for what? I don't expect to actually do anything anymore. My LS is not going to fight Absolute Virtue or the Pandemonium Warden. I'm not going to be a part of the Excellence linkshell, and all the other things that I had once daydreamed about seem to be things that only I am interested in anymore. Sky has been looked at as old content for quite some time, and now with these latest updates, it's pretty much a dead event. Hell, I was surprised that we even did Walk of Echoes last night.
I ask myself time and time again why I still play this. My friends are few and far between, I've read the lore of this game and realized that the content is no longer in alignment with it, and I really don't do as much endgame content now that I'm a high-level player. So why do I continue? What's my reason for putting all of this time and effort into this game? Why did I even start the relic quest, knowing full well that it will take at least another two years and that's if I did nothing but save gil and shout in Whitegate. Why did I just level my jobs again? Well, I do have a reason for that one at least. That new Corsair hat is the sexiest headpiece in existence. I'm not talking about stats or anything like that; I mean pure aesthetics. It's a crime to look this damn sexy. It's no wonder Corsairs have to carry a loaded gun anywhere they travel to.
In all seriousness though, I imagine that everyone who plays this game is just as successful at life as they are in Vana'diel. With all of the effort and time we put into making ourselves great players, surely we put that same drive and determination into our everyday lives? Right?
I most certainly hope so, but my single life is currently giving me the side-eye as I reach for my controller now. Back to gaming I go.