Maybe "timesinks" are where life really happens.
If we remove all the "unnecessary detours" in games that people consider a nuisance, what exactly are we "saving and optimizing " that time for? When you arrive faster at treasure and glory, where do you go from there? And just how much have you missed on that shorter journey?
This brings up the other side of paying for time: Paying for time. Paying for a time. This time, that time, some time.
It has been my experience that WoW suffers, not from padding, but from watering-down. Does a reputation barrier ruin the game for me? No. Why not? Because I can enjoy the reputation process. It's the process that matters, not the efficiency.
I'm just going to say this now: this post is going to get rambling and incoherent and I do not plan to fix that. I'm trying out the process of writing rather than going for the product of good writing. Like usual. :)
When I roll up to a vendor and I see that the item I want is in red, now what? Well at first I'm a bit unhappy. Shiny! Want! But let's try the roads. I could use my leet skills to hack the game and remove the rep requirement (did you know ICC was supposed to have a Sunwell event? I removed it, big regret). Now I have the shiny. So, now what? I have just been rewarded for nothing (beside my leet hacking skills, which I'm pretty sure are not the goal here). I like rewards, so I work very hard to get them, by doing nothing, since that's what gets rewards. Sure is fun, doing nothing.
I decide to hack again to remove my hack and now there is, once again, a red item with those evil words: "reputation required:" Now what? Well obviously I make a choice. Yes, a goodness to God choice (I'm not sure that's a real phrase, but let's pretend it is). Maybe it's honest to God. Don't lie to an omniscient being. Anyway, I now have a choice. Is that item and the virtual gain from it better or worse, for me personally, in all my subjective subjectivity, more or less valuable to me than the time to get it? There are often a lot of noes. But a few yeses. Yes! Now I have a goal! And a process! Let's go process that process.
And so I set off and kill a billion foozles and by now I am really, really good at killing foozles. Then I get the item and go "huh, now what?" Well duh, I go and tell everyone the story of how I killed ten billion foozles (I always lie by a factor of ten). Pixels are nice and all, but stories about those pixels go farther. Further. More distance, figuratively speaking. This blog is clear proof of that. My pixels are all totally out of reach, but stories, thoughts, ideas, and endless whining, why those are endless!