We all play games for slightly different reasons, but at the end of it, it boils down to having fun and being absorbed. I realised recently that a game I had been enjoying immensely just hit the end game, or at least near the end game, and all my joy for it was gone. Has this ever happened to you? That joy just goes flat like a balloon that burst, and you are left wondering if you ever felt any joy at all.
It got me thinking about the various stages or sections of playing a game that we go through. I think about a brand new RPG, where the map is completely black except for a tiny section where you started. You are weak, everything is new. Names and terms and features all clamour for your attention, and as you try to make sense of it all, to unpick everything like wrapping around a present, you smile. Or later on in the RPG, around level 20 – 30, all features have been unlocked, you have a good grasp of the various systems and you feel like you can do whatever and take on whatever the game throws at you.
Then you reach the end, where all your hard work and travelling comes to a head, a massive boss fight standing between you and sweet victory. After that struggle you are rewarded with the end of the story you have been following all this time, and you watch the credits roll with a grin of satisfaction.
Some games don’t really end, or offer things after the credits. Do you take pleasure in hunting down 100% completion, facing bosses made for the most devout players or getting rare achievements and trophies? Do you want to push and squeeze until the game has nothing left to give you, nothing new to experience or unlock?
I find that depending on the game or rather the genre, I enjoy all of these sections. But I want to know, if the chips are down, which section of a game do you enjoy most? Is it the sense of wonder and the unknown in the beginning, the middle where you find your stride, the reaching of the end or perhaps the pushing beyond that to find the best gear, the hardest fights, the rarest unlocks?