Too much of a good thing

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?

7 Responses to Too much of a good thing

  1. I think that wow is different than those console single player games. In wow you have people who talk you while you do those quests you can mingle and prattle with people. You can even be in vent to talk. So you are never alone. Thus it doesn’t feel like a job because of this human interaction.

  2. Pingback: L.A. Noire | Complete Playstation Store Games

  3. I am EXACTLY this way. I have a twin to your FFVII story, including the KotR materia. What I have found as I’ve grown older, and wanted to experience a game through when I buy it, is that I will actually force myself to abandon alot of those side quests:

    I will get the itch all the time to go explore, or redo something (even to the point of abandoning a saved game to start over from fresh), or to massively level some ability. But I push the itch aside. Sometimes “the itch” overwhelms me, and I must follow it, but I keep it in my mind to always return to the main quest.

    I have found that I actually enjoy the game more in the long run, and have been actually finishing games lately. I always remind myself that if I finish a game, and want to experience it all, I can always go back at my liesure and do it. This is great for games like Fallout: New Vegas.

    Perhaps the reason that it is different for WoW is simply that: While leveling your character, there is a huge push to try to get your character to max level quickly, so you can experience end-game with your friends. The exploring and achievement-whoring is an activity that you pick at later after you have this sense of achievement by hitting 85.

    Try it, and I don’t think you’d be dissapointed. Sit down and try to school yourself into following the main questline of something like Fallout. Go do some side quests or exploring when you really really NEED to, but remember to always return to your main quest.

    Good Luck!

    Stych

    • That’s good advice. I will give that a try…can’t guaranteed my obsessive nature won’t take over and do all the side-quests anyway, but I’ll try.

  4. There was a point in my life where I didn’t always do the side quests and all the mini-games and I actually enjoyed playing through long and arduous RPGs. This is back during my Dreamcast days when I played through Grandia II and Skies of Arcadia. I loved these games and they brought me great enjoyment.

    And then enter Shenmue. And I got obsessed with doing things like making money so I could buy whatever I wanted, or doing side-quests so that I could be just a little bit higher level and not get my butt handed to me. Once this started the loss of interest kicked in. My RPG play career started it’s downward spiral.

    I try really hard not to get that way about all games, but I’m the same. I do exactly the same thing with Flash games like Diner Dash (and all of it’s variants) or Angry Birds. I’m just like you, I need all the stars and the best scores.

    With WoW I’m similar, but the waiting period between heavy play sessions is shorter. Whereas with an RPG (like Pokemon) I won’t touch again for months, I’ll come back to WoW within a few weeks. I’ll bust my butt until I get whatever goal I’ve set and then I’ll take breaks. It’s very weird. I’m curious why we do this (gamers, as I’m pretty sure you and I are not alone).
    Hestiah recently posted..Naked Dungeon Challenge #1

    • Shenmue! I was just talking to one of my coworkers about this game. He said it was his favorite game ever. It sounds pretty cool, but I never had a Dreamcast so I haven’t played it. Strangely enough, I don’t get obsessive about things like making money or doing anything that seems like a job. Best example I can think of is the jobs in Fable – blacksmithing, lute playing – I have no problem skipping that stuff. But anything with some extra XP or bits of dialogue – I’m on it.

      My WoW burnout also lasts less long than it does for regular RPGs, but I’ve gotten pretty good at regulating my play so I don’t get burned out on WoW much.