When a game becomes an obsession

Make Love Not Warcraft

I’m one of those people that are perpetually late to catch onto everything entertainment related. A show/movie/game is released and because it doesn’t fit neatly into what I generally consider my area of interest, I’ll blow it off for months, sometimes years, before I actually decide to give it a chance and fall hopelessly in love with it. Recently, the Final Fantasy series made it onto that list and although I’ve been playing games since the age of 5 and have had a number of friends who were avid fans of the series, I had never played a single entry until last week because I had convinced myself that turn-based combat wasn’t my thing (even though Pokemon Red was one of my most played Gameboy games as a kid, but to be fair, I am the king of contradictory behaviour).

Last week Monday, I made the decision to at least try one of the games so that I didn’t feel so left out of the party conversations (I go to really fun parties) and I asked our resident Wookiee and JRPG fanatic for some advice on where to start. He pointed me in the direction of Final Fantasy X and since it arrived on Thursday, my time has been lost in a whirlwind of aeons, overdrives and cheesy, yet endearing, dialogue carrying some of the best storytelling I’ve ever come across in a game.

Final Fantasy X

None of this is new, however, because as I said, I’ve been playing games for a really long time and over the years I’ve played some truly remarkable titles that I’ve loved from start to finish. What makes Final Fantasy really stand out for me is that it has become an entry on my very short list of games that I’ve been utterly obsessed with. When I’m not playing, I’m thinking about it or reading strategies for optimal levelling. If I have 10 minutes to spare, you can bet that I’m going to make a quick trip to Spira to squeeze in a few battles and because this is an incredibly busy week for me at work, I’m trying to plan my days around how little sleep I actually need before things start going pear-shaped.

As I said, my list of gaming obsessions is quite short and there have only ever been 4 games that have completely dictated how I would spend my time. In primary school, Pokemon Red was my vice and I knew the best places to catch every pokemon and tinkered with my team for hours on end until I could beat the elite 4 without losing a single battle. It was almost a decade before I found another game to obsess over and when I got to varsity, my time was divided between Dota and World of Warcraft. For about 3 years, I played almost no other games and when I wasn’t spending the entire day playing, I was lurking on the forums looking for ideal builds for each Dota character or fiddling with spreadsheets to optimise my WoW gear. Eventually I realised that it was taking up too much time, resulting in me missing out on many of the other great games being released, so I decided to call it a day. Although I’ll still play the occasional game of Dota 2, MMO’s now fall into my “avoid at all costs” genre, which is why I’ve avoided Destiny like you would a drunken uncle at a wedding (and based on my track record of being late, I’ll probably start playing it in 2 or 3 years from now).

The Lich King

For a while, there was a period of calm, but after discovering Dark Souls on the pre-played shelf (3 years after it was released) I once again found myself thinking about builds at work, in the car, and while people spoke to me about whatever trivial, non-gaming, topic they were on about. The Dark Souls wiki became my home page and I would check it more than Taylor Swift checks her Twitter so that I could find the best gear for my build. Even once I had finished the game, I pushed on through NG+, then NG++, then NG+++ right up until NG+7 when I decided to create another character and start again.

Dark Souls Artorias

Now that I’ve had a taste of Final Fantasy, I’m thinking about it (probably) more than I should be and it’s starting to look like I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve got hundreds of hours’ worth of FF games to catch up on and I get the feeling that anybody who broaches the subject of gaming to me is going to be bombarded with how much I love this game and how they absolutely have to try it out because… hey! Where are you going?

Have you ever been completely obsessed with a game and did that obsession have any impact on the other aspects in your life? Let me know in the comments. Or just talk to me about Final Fantasy. Seriously, I need my fix.

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