In IM, I was speaking to someone I play an online game with.
Me: [Turning down an offer to do something I hadn't wanted to do anyway.] And sadly, I'm behind on PVP for the week because of work yesterday. :/
Him: God you remind me of some else I know that has to get certain things done before anything else. I can't stand playing mmos that way
Me: Well, for me it's more about setting goals -- what's the most important thing in game to do? Then you put your time towards that.
Me: My main goal right now is PVP max rank, that means I need to get the challenge log done for the PVP XP bonus. That means three first place wins, which means, since I'm Gridania, could take 30+ matches to get 3 wins...
Him: Again, looking at it that way makes it feel like a job to me. I wouldn't enjoy the game anymore if I played like that
While the way I play MMOs does sometimes feel like a job, for me I enjoy that. To me, accomplishing things makes me happy. Leveling, making money in games, finishing a task at my RL job -- those make me happy.
After having that conversation, I read my friends list and came to this post from from Humans of New York:
“I spent about ten years as a music agent. Along the way, I became very interested in how my clients handled success. Some of them were tremendously successful but quite unhappy. Others seemed quite content with their success. The subject interested me so much that I went back to school to study the science of happiness, and now I teach the subject at NYU. Happiness doesn’t necessarily mean you have a smile on your face. It’s more of a mixing board with several different dials: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement. Everyone’s mixing board is set differently. There’s no one way to be happy and there’s no wrong way to be happy. I may draw my happiness from relationships, while somebody else may need to be constantly engaged in the pursuit of a goal.”
I really like that way of looking at it: Happiness is like a mixing board with several different dials. My mix of settings might make someone else miserable, but it works for me. Someone else's settings might not.
Sometimes it surprises me the strength of the satisfaction I get from achievement -- even simple things like getting my laundry sorted or cleaning up a pile of clutter can make me very happy. Anything that makes me feel efficient, productive, or useful -- in game or out, both have the same level of happiness generation.