Five ways we love (and fixate on) numbers in games

Have you ever thought about how much time you spend looking at or chasing numbers in games? Whether it is intentional or not, a lot of our time is dedicated to the pursuit of numbers, from the purchase decision all the way through to gear and general play. Let us look at a few ways we love numbers and how they affect us.

Discount and sale numbers

That was an easy one, right? The price of a game, the money flowing out of your pocket into a retailer, can really impact things. Maybe a game is too expensive for your taste at a specific price, or you have an idea of a sweetspot that you don’t mind spending. Or perhaps you just like to see those big discount numbers before you buy your games. (We know how popular our weekly sales posts are.)

Latency

So much depends on your connection to the game, the netcode and more. On your screen, you moved out of the way of that charge attack, but in the replay, you are just standing in the way like a deer caught in the headlights. A few milliseconds can make a difference between a fun night with friends or a horribly unfulfilling gaming session. Silly small numbers that mean so much. They get blamed for a lot, possibly a lot more than they deserve.

Experience points

Ah Wildstar, you are missed.

This is a big one. So many games use experience points to convey the culmination of your efforts. Will you take that quest to go back to the place you are slightly over? Depends on the reward. What about doing arbitrary things to get some of those sweet XP numbers floating into that always hungry XP bar at the bottom of your screen? From the completion of maps to certain challenges, we keep racking those points up. Again and again.

Damage numbers

Whether the game shows them or not, a lot of our best moments of play are related to damaging things and doing big damage. In fighting games, your combo string or special attack just took a massive chunk out of a health bar. Bosses in Diablo wither under your assault. A critical hit on a headshot, or if the game allows it a critical strike on a critical hit causes these big numbers to float up on the screen, while the enemy crumples.

Specific numbers we love to see

There are certain numbers that have become all too familiar in specific circles. If you play Final Fantasy games you are aware of how the game caps damage on a single attack to 9999, unless you break the limit with ultimate gear, or use a powerful summon attack. Seeing a 9999 on your HP, or on your attack just looks so satisfying, and getting the next big limit, 99999 is like watching poetry come to life. There are other numbers with this happy, final feeling, like getting 255 in a stat or getting your level to 99, where it stays forever.

I haven’t even delved into other numbers around gaming that we fixate on. Frame rate. Refresh rate. Resolution. The HDR your screen (Hello 20,000:1, another specific number). Do you love numbers? Do you chase them specifically or perhaps chase them without knowing. If you know your character’s ilvl/power level without having to open up a character sheet, I want to know.

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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