What a great term. I wish I could give someone credit for it because I’m pretty sure I didn’t make it up, but I’m not sure where I heard it first. But to define it:
Monogamous games: Games that require such a high degree of time commitment that it is difficult (or undesirable) to play other games while you are playing them. When you stop playing them you usually never come back to them, although people do take the occasional break.
So almost every MMORPG is a monogamous game. It’s really hard to play two of them at the same time. This is an important thing to note: a monogamous game is a monogamous game regardless of casual or hardcore players. There are a lot of casual World of Warcraft players (although with WoW I’m not entirely sure what casual means – maybe less than 10 hours a week) and I bet most of them suddenly find that they don’t have much time to play any other games. Or even think of playing other games.
The Halo series and Gears of War are also monogamous games. In fact, any game can become a monogamous game to an individual – I heard someone say they had been spending 20 hours a week playing Windows Solitaire and had gotten addicted.
But when a game becomes monogamous it also creates burnout. People want to take a break. Not such a big break that they are “cheating” on their main game, but a fun timeout. The problem is that most games require a non-trivial time commitment to do anything. Some games, like Battlefield 2142 and Warcraft 3, do allow 20-50 minute games that are one and done. So do games like Bejeweled and Call of Duty 2. YouTube also feels that niche, even though it’s not a game.
I think this is yet another sign of social media becoming more ingrained in people’s new digital lifestyles and that the Internet is becoming the primary media.