It never ceases to fascinate me how the human brain works, especially the part that’s responsible for motivating us and making us happy. That sweet, sweet dopamine is one hell of a drug for sure. And dangerous, too.
It’s been almost two years since I quit playing Genshin Impact due to being thoroughly fed up with its treadmill-like and RNG-heavy game design. Do your dailies, spend your resin, work on the battle pass, do this, do that…it just wasn’t fun anymore.
You already know where this is going, don’t you?
Two weeks ago I decided on a whim to patch up the game and have a look at all the new content I’ve missed and also to see whether they’ve made any changes to its overall design. Yeah, as for the latter…pretty much nothing’s changed at all, which is disappointing to say the least. But here’s the thing…I’m playing every day and having a blast again nonetheless!
Of course I’ve already spent quite some time exploring the new regions they’ve added during my absence, and it’s enjoyable as ever to hunt for hidden treasures, solve puzzles and collect hard to reach shinies.
However, despite my characters being more than strong enough to conquer any challenge the open world has to offer, I’ve also started to work on their gear, talents and levels again because, damn, that kind of stuff feels so rewarding.
The funny thing – or tragic thing, depending on how you look at it – is that I’m well aware of my newfound enthusiasm’s temporary nature. It’s just a matter of time until I’ll once more tire of running the same domains over and over, or get fits of rage when yet another potentially good artifact rolls into a load of crap. Still, I’m enjoying it so much right now that I simply don’t care.
So here I am, doing all the things that made me quit the game once already, in order to get a new weapon for my Xiangling (a fishing spear, believe it or not), better artifacts for my Ganyu and so on, because the dopamine rush just thinking about reaching those goals triggers tastes oh so sweet.
Unfortunately, like I said in the opening paragraph, that rush can also be quite dangerous. This is where the fact that Genshin Impact is a gacha game comes into play.
A couple of months before I took my leave from the game back in ’21 I stopped pulling for new characters because I couldn’t keep up with leveling and gearing them all anyway. At the same time I also decided that I would not spend any more money on the game going forward, no matter what.
Fast forward a couple years and, well, just two weeks in that resolution has gone out the window already because, upon realizing that I play the game every day again anyway, I couldn’t resist buying the Blessing of the welkin moon for five bucks, which pays out a (relatively) generous amount of funny money spaced out over thirty days of logging in.
Now, five Euros ain’t a lot. However, as people designing this kind of shit aren’t even ashamed to tell you, getting players to spend that first couple of bucks is the “ice breaker”. After that it feels okay to spend on the game. At some point it might even feel like you actually need to spend more.
Of course people aren’t all equally susceptible to this. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle of the pack here, and fortunately my disposable income is such that I can afford my (very mild) level of obsession* without going broke, let alone incurring debts. Also, if you’ve been reading some of my stuff before you probably know that I think it’s important to support the makers of video games I really enjoy (even though the “real” makers only receive but a fraction of that support, obviously).
* I won’t call it addiction because I don’t intend to downplay the seriousness of real addiction, which I fortunately do not suffer from, in any way, shape or form.
Still, gacha mechanics aren’t something that should be condoned, and certainly not supported.
On the other hand, that Baizhu fella looks like he’d be a really great addition to my team right now, and I do have some funny money left over…
I guess we’ll see which part of my brain comes out ahead.