I love video games. I’ve been playing them since I was about 3 years old. Sit me down in front of a computer or a console and I can game all day. My favorite games are huge, sweeping RPGs with lots of locations to discover, items to collect, monsters to defeat and easter eggs to find.
But I think I have a problem.
When I play a game I need to do it all – do every quest, get every scrap of experience, find every secret. And this is fun for me – until it isn’t. I sink so many hours into getting perfect scores and achievements that after many, many hours, I just get sick of the games and end up putting them down, unfinished, and don’t pick them up again for 6 months or a year, or sometimes I don’t play them again at all.
Recently this happened with Fallout: New Vegas. I started playing the game immediately after it came out. I had a lot of fun exploring the wastelands and finding every quest I could and then all of a sudden, I got sick of it. I had spent so much time exploring and trying to find every bit of optional content that I kind of forgot what the main storyline was and I lost interest. I just picked the game back up recently (along with all the DLC) – but am I continuing the main questline? No. I’m doing more exploration and side-quests. Will I be able to finish the game before I get sick of it again? Who knows.
This also happened with another game I played recently, LA Noire. I really loved this game, but I was obsessed with getting 5 stars on everything. If I got less than that, I would immediately replay the case until I got it. The result? I turned a game I originally found very entertaining into a chore. I did manage to finish it, but I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I could have.
I’ve been doing this kind of thing for years. On my second playthrough of FFVII I decided I would defeat every Weapon and master every materia. After countless, painful, hours of chocobo racing to get the gold chocobo and the Knights of the Round materia I spent even more hours in the final dungeon of the game wandering around, getting into random battles and hoping to run into Magic Pots for their sweet, sweet AP. After this went on for quite some time (I think I managed to get my KotR materia up to 3 stars) I threw my controller down in disgust and never wanted to play FF7 again.
The list of games I’ve ruined for myself like this goes on and on. I don’t know why I do this, but I just can’t help it.
Strangely enough, the only game I’ve been able to throttle myself on is World of Warcraft. Though I’m definitely an achievement whore who wants to see and do everything in the game for some reason I’m able to do it in moderation. When the Molten Front dailies were introduced I wanted those achievement points, I wanted that hippogriff mount, but I took it easy. I did the dailies when I felt like it. It got my achivements and mount a few months later than most people, but that was okay. I knew that if I forced myself to do these things daily I would get burned out and stop logging in altogether.
I haven’t been able to figure out what the difference is. Why can I do the optional content in WoW (for me anything outside of raiding is optional) at a leisurely pace while I go at single player games until I burn out?