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Suspension of space-time; how gamers know they are having fun

While time may seem suspended, its really not...
While time may seem suspended, its really not...
Frozen Time by Xercatos & gamer image courtesy of G DATA

Have you ever found yourself sitting down to play your MMO for a planned one or two hour session, begin playing, absorbed in the moment, and looking back at the clock only to find you've overshot that planned gaming time? Or maybe it wasn't just an MMO, maybe it was surfing the web, flipping through various YouTube videos, maybe even examiner articles; regardless the activity, if it took you over the internet and quickly swallowed the time without your ever recognizing it had passed, you've experienced a 'suspension of space-time'.

While the idea of someone in today's world having absolutely no exposure to the internet might be a little tough for some of us to wrap our heads around; anyone new to the experience can definitely attest that suspension of space-time is an easy thing to experience. I still recall my first days not long after discovery of the internet, let alone online gaming; countless hours swallowed away in what felt like a brief pause of reality. It's definitely not hard to experience the loss of time when it comes to internet activities, and any really hardcore MMO gamer will agree they've experienced the same likely countless times. In fact it may stand to reason that this suspension of space-time is an integral ingredient for the success of a game. Other video games certainly have this same means at their disposal, but the fact you can pause or simply save the game and come back to it, can make all the difference in how much of that suspension actually takes place.

Theater has a term for a similar experience, suspension of disbelief; that moment where even though the entertainment before you isn't actually taking place it still manages to evoke an emotional response of the viewer as though it were. Momentarily, if not longer, disintegrating all reality save that of the drama unfolding within the viewers mind and emotional state. Though an MMO may boast the same for some players, momentarily absorbing the player in their virtual world so to a point they actually feel they are the character being played; suspension of space-time doesn't require any belief to take place. In fact it barely requires any attention or concentration of the observer whatsoever! While those of us that work daily with computers and the internet may have grown somewhat desensitized to the sensation, given the proper source of entertainment and that sensation will kick right back in.

The real trick when it comes to this suspension of space-time is that the spark which can ignite this fire can be different per the individual. One gamer may experience this when doing PVP but not the general game-play, another may experience this while crafting ingame or even gathering, while still another experiences what is closer to suspension of disbelief; allowing their imagination to set sail upon the surf provided by any measure of entertainment their MMO is currently throwing their way. Regardless of the triggering within a player, rest assured that once the shot has been fired one of two things can take place; either sheer pleasure or dread regarding the experience and time lost by it.