Life, The Universe, And Gaming: Why Do You Game?
Let me begin by posing a question to you, my beloved readers.
All two of you.
When someone says that they have completed a game, what do you think they mean?
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I’ve recently asked myself this question and I have to say, it got me thinking for far longer than I ought to have considering what a simple question it is. It wasn’t because my mind was preoccupied with other thoughts, as it usually is, nor because I was distracted, nor indeed because I’m an idiot (have to cover all bases) but rather because it actually has something to it.
Consider if you will, an RPG.
If I say that I’ve completed the latest RPG, let’s call this hypothetical game Crass Defect, what would you think I meant? For example, did I just play through the story and therefore complete the campaign? Or did I play through everything and achieve a 100% completion statistic? Or am I perhaps saying that I’ve unlocked all of the achievements / trophies for the game? Some of the latter might actually not be related to completing the story or side quests at all.
A lot of your ability to answer this question must surely come down to who you are as a person. Or more specifically, what type of gamer you are.
Why do you game?
Are you a casual sort of gamer who only plays things for the fun of it, who will quite happily walk away from something that you find either boring or unappealing to you? Are you some sort of entertainment junkie who will only enjoy a game if it really grips you when you pick it up? Or are you perhaps a completionist who will start a game and not move on with it until that game is entirely completed, down to the very last side quest, collectible or what have you?
There is completion and then there is completion.
Which is it for you?
I know for me personally, when I tell friends that I’ve completed a game I like to say specifically what I mean by that. So I would say that I’ve completed the story, or I’ve achieved full GamerScore, or I got 100% completion. But I’m kind of an anomaly of a person in that my “play ALL the things” mentality extends only to specific types of games, where I would not touch an Android game or something on PC but not hesitate for a moment to play something else on PC, or even a really shitty game that I don’t particularly enjoy, just because it has some quirk to it or I’ve been tasked with beating someone else’s score. Or maybe I want to kill myself through digital despondency.
Either way, I’m not a particularly good candidate for this discussion so let’s look at some stereotypes.
The casual sort of gamer very obviously games for the fun of it. It’s not about passion or addiction but rather just a cool way to kill a few hours in the comfort of one’s home. A lot of these people then might consider completing a game to be finishing its story. However there are those who never complete a game’s story, or those who actually do go further by collecting particular things or completing side quests, at which point they might either not consider the game complete or just be looking for more fun ‘after completing it’. Hardly completion in and of itself, but possibly not even considered to be completion from the mind of the casual gamer.
And there we’re not even talking about a game with high scores where the only purpose of playing it is to put up a high score. Is the game then complete when you’ve achieved a higher score than someone else, and do you consider it incomplete once again if someone beats that score? One needs to obviously think like a casual gamer to know for sure, but I can safely say that my casual gamer friends who enjoy such games as Angry Birds and Plants Vs Zombies do not consider the games to be complete until they’ve completed each level, however I have other gamer friends who do not consider Angry Birds to be complete until every level has been three-starred. Disparaging enough as a definitive solution.
Looking briefly at entertainment junkies, these folks are into gaming for the hobbyist thrill of it and they want a particular type of game to do a very particular type of thing for them. For example, a football fan might enjoy playing FIFA, an online multiplayer fanatic might prefer just Battlefield 3 or Dota 2, and someone who likes shooting shit up might only ever play Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Even though each of these games has some sort of campaign or complete-able mode, Dota 2 being the exception, do you think these people care about completion at all?
To an entertainment junkie, completing GTA must mean turning it off when you’re done spending half an hour with six stars as the army tries and fails to gun you down.
Finally we come to completionists of which I know for sure that Marko is one. He’s the type of guy who will play a game and not stop until every possible thing in it, is done. However his completion habits tie mostly into the achievements for a particular game, where for example, in Far Cry 3 he stopped upon achieving 1000G for it, not completing every single Trial of the Rakyat or those Mission Board side quests because they didn’t really matter for achievements, effectively not completing his Tatau, which is the game’s version of a 100% completion count in graphical format. On your player’s arm, to be precise.
This mindset can’t necessarily be a bad thing as in other games such as Sleeping Dogs, where getting a 100% completion stat ties into an achievement, he did exactly that, completing the story as well as all collectibles and side missions. As did I, actually.
In fact, I like to call myself a “pathological completionist”, which is something that a friend of mine once came up with to describe her achievement whoring in games, which I adopted in her honour. Basically, if I feel compelled to complete something, I will. I did it, recently, for quite a few titles including Assassin’s Creed III, Far Cry 3 and Sleeping Dogs, however I could not be fucked to care about LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.
In all these examples I’ve used and all these scenarios that I’ve shared, I ask you the question: Which do you think is the proper way to play games?
Who amongst all these examples is playing games for the right reasons?
Because it would make sense then, to consider the person who is playing for the right reasons, as the person who would best be able to answer the question of when a game is considered complete. Right?
It stands to reason. If you’re playing a game for the right reasons, then your definition of what completing a game means must stand above all else. But what constitutes playing a game for the right reasons? Maybe this is just me overthinking on overdrive, but do you see my quandary?
Surely there are no right reasons and I for one am as content as a cucumber to just live and let die.
‘Mystery is sometimes closer to love than familiarity is.’
Perhaps that’s it? Perhaps that’s the reason we are so passionate about games and we enjoy them so much. Because they bring mystery to our lives and present us with so many questions such as these, which perpetuate and permeate through our existences. Perhaps it’s better to not know all the answers.
Game completion? You can decide.
Playing games for the right reasons? You can decide.
I suppose it all depends on context. On the person.
What type of person are you?