Opinion: Here’s my video game obsession… What’s yours?

Video games are a funny thing, aren’t they? Something so many of us love to spend almost all our free time doing. There’s seemingly always a new one around the corner, and an ever-growing backlog means (at least for 90% of us) there’s theoretically never a need to go back to play an old one again. But we do replay games all the time, don’t we? Why? Well, there’s something comforting about going back to games we’ve played again and again. However, recently I’ve also noticed another obsession in my gameplay. 

Falling in

Recently, I got into Fall Guys. Now, for some context, I’ve never really played battle royale games. I don’t like shooters and the selection of non-shooter battle royale’s is pretty slim. I did quite enjoy Tetris 99, but a platforming battle royale like Fall Guys was definitely more my jam (as the cool kids used to say).  And I was hooked.

For a period of about two weeks or so, I had no game commitments for work and so whenever I got a second or two to play – I jumped back into Fall Guys. And quickly I started to take notice of my level. I then heard about the 40 level cap and became a little obsessed. Sure, I occasionally racked up a win but it was all about the repetitive (but oddly satisfying) loop. Of getting as far as I could. Of surviving the next round. And finally, of seeing the beautiful points coming in and my XP bar filling up.

Now, that may not sound that odd. It’s kind of the point of these kinds of games, right? However, I did find it interesting that during the journey to level 40 I barely bought a new cosmetic item. I’m not saying I didn’t get any – but I think I only spent 1 crown and a few thousand Kudos. I now still have quite a collection of crowns and a bank vault of kudos – so looking unique wasn’t really the pull. Also, usually, I’m not the biggest fan of heavy repetitive RPGs. I don’t often like grinding just to level up my character. Yet, that’s basically what I was doing (and rather enjoying) in Fall Guys. So, why?

On the pipe…

I, then, thought back to Paper Mario: The Origami King and Super Mario Odyssey. Two games – I kept going back to. In both those games, I imposed my own targets: Odyssey – 999 Moons. And Paper Mario – 100% ie. collecting everything that could be collected. Again what’s odd about those games – is for weeks on end – I literally played nothing else. And both also had a great visual indicator showing me my progress every step of the way. It happened with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe too. It was my first (and for a long time only) Switch game – Back then, I was obsessed with 3 Star-ing every track and every CC and then online with hitting the mythical ’10 000′ point mark. It happened with Celeste too – had to get up that mountain, no matter how wonderfully maddening it was to die over and over again.   

So what does it all mean? Well, I know I’ve always had the completionist bug. However, it doesn’t seem to be for all games. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be related to ‘trophies’ per se. As proof of this, I don’t think I currently even have one Platinum trophy. However, as some of my friends here at SA Gamer recently pointed out to me, I do seem to be obsessed with another specific type of game tracking. From what I’ve worked out – I need to first (really) enjoy the game. It also helps if for one reason or another I don’t have other games I’m playing at the same time. Then, I somehow impose a goal on myself. Weirdly, the game also seemingly needs to visually track that goal in some appealing way. And oddly enough – it doesn’t even seem to matter if I get help achieving the goal. I’ll admit I used a few guides to help me find some of the more obscure Moons and other collectables along the way. It didn’t affect the enjoyment at all. In fact, I even felt a little bummed that it was all over when I achieved my goal. The process itself was where I was having fun.

So what’s happening? Am I broken? Or did I just realise I actually like the video game grind after all? Does any of this sound familiar? What’s your obsession? Let us know in the comments section below…

Nintendo Nerd, sharing my love of Mario with the world one pixel at a time.

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