The lights are on
I used to never put a game down until I’d completely conquered it, even if things got so ridiculous that I found myself dodging 100 consecutive randomly timed lightning bolts. Nowadays I’ve stopped going for the full-clear in games from Final Fantasy to Arkham Asylum, and I’m enjoying my gaming hobby more than ever.
[Editor's note: This article originally appeared in Game Informer #236]
Credit (or blame) World of Warcraft for my change of heart. There was a time in 2009 when interpersonal drama blew up the group I was raiding with. Without a steady crew to conquer the game’s toughest challenges with, but unwilling to quit and give up the game that had brought me closer than ever to out-of-town friends who had moved away after high school, I was left to my own devices. At first, completing challenge achievements in five-man dungeons kept me going. For a time after that, bringing my stable of alternate characters up to level cap occupied me. I checked one side goal after another off of my list – and World of Warcraft does nothing so well as providing a lengthy checklist – until I did the unthinkable. I began fishing.
Traipsing around the world and finding rare fish was fun for a time despite the brutal tedium of the fishing minigame itself. Grabbing a couple buddies and taking a shot at the ultra-competitive weekly contest in Booty Bay had its moments. Eventually, though, nothing was left but to earn my coin from the wishing well in the hub city of Dalaran.
Imagine rolling five dice every twenty seconds, trying to get all five matching for a Yahtzee – on each number, one through six. The first Yahtzee is a great moment. The thirty-third, when you get a set of threes when all you need is the sixes to finish your set, is maddening. Fishing up that damn coin broke me.
I saw too deeply into the Matrix; the process of checking off that final box was too transparent in its deliberate spacing out of rewards for performing trivial actions. I had always known it on an intellectual level, but internalizing the fact that I was a rat in a Skinner box, conditioned through a steady drip of inconsequential rewards to perform a task with no intrinsic merit, triggered a deep revulsion in me.
Ignoring the voice in my head that urges me to engage in gaming activities I don’t enjoy just for the achievement, trophy, or simple feeling of completion is now trivial. Sifting through the entirety of Arkham Asylum in detective vision, mining every planet in Mass Effect, skipping arbitrary chests to get the Zodiac Spear in Final Fantasy XII: no thanks. Those are games that I love all the more for my avoidance of aspects that have negative appeal to me.
At the same time, I happily die over and over in New Super Mario Bros. to get every last star coin and play Civilization V again and again to get the achievement for winning with each leader. The difference is that the pursuit of those goals is great fun for me, rather than being a monotonous chore endured in order to check an item off of a list someone slapped together to pass Microsoft certification.
You and I may love the same game for different reasons. My nephew adores playing Minecraft in creative mode on a server with his friends, an experience that quickly bores me even though I adore single-player survival mode. Why, then, should either of us force ourselves to slog through the parts we don’t enjoy just to say we’ve “beaten” a particular game?
I nearly didn’t complete Mass Effect – one of my absolute favorite games of this generation – because the sidequests were so awful. It took me three tries to beat Final Fantasy XII – likewise an all-star of the PS2 era – because I kept restarting after realizing I’d opened the wrong chest hours of playtime previously. Letting go of the completionism bug hasn’t just freed up more time in my schedule for a wider selection of games, it has led me to some of the best experiences I’ve had with my hobby.
Email the author Adam Biessener, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
I always do my first play through without concern of trophies/achievements...then when I'm done I take a look at the list and see what looks reachable and/or enjoyable...if I get 100% good if not...I'll live...
I completely agree with this. I like getting the achievements, too, but I always have my first play through for pure entertainment. I don't even worry about achievements.
As many have also stated here, I play through the game without any concern for achievements at all, just enjoy it. Maybe months or even years down the track I will pick up the game again and knock out some achievements that I may have missed but 100% completion means nothing to me.
I don't complete games 100%, but I like to finish the main questline as well as a variety of side missions.
i think me going for 100% on a game strictly depends on the game ... i don't 100% most games altho i do try to do all the sidequests in most unless there kinda ehh .... i'm happy with what i do normally
the only game i got a platinum trophie in was resistance burning skies. partially because it had barely any trophies.
I play most games to finish because I am trying to justify my investment. Some games I find to be head ache inducing so I don't complete them but that is fairly rare since I carefully select the games I purchase. If I'm not having fun playing a game, I'll do something else.
i also have to complete games b4 moving on
I play games for the enjoyment they provide. Building up a character, making money, advancing, and maybe getting to the end if there is one. I don't keep playing to justify an investment, or to try and get 100% achievement.
I have a good number of games I have not finished because I too was plagued with this 100%-ism: Okami, Kingdom Hearts, FFX. I would get to the point of no return and turn around to try and unlock everything so that I could get some "ultimate" weapon or just because I didn't want to miss anything. Instead, I got tired of the grind and stopped playing, never finishing the game, never seeing the end of the story.
Thankfully, I've stopped doing this madness and I am much happier for it. I have a good number of games that I have completed to the end without feeling regret that I didn't unlock all of its secrets.
That said, I have also completely stopped playing games after feeling the story was a grind like Skyrim (note: I did put in 200+ hours so it's not like I stopped after a couple hours).
I've said it before... my character is not going back to the past to complete the story. My personal belief in time travel probably has something to do with it. It's like the guy with the magic spiders - Not doing this s*%t. I'm out!
Dodging 100 lighting bolts? As in Final Fantasy X? I thought it was 200. But, it's been awhile so I'm probably incorrect.
The chocobo racing balloon game in FFX has got to be one of the worst minigames of the series. Infuriating.
It's a tough hump to overcome, one realizing that Achievement are merely there for pleasure instead of an end goal makes the game more fun I believe. Some are certainly fun to try and get but most are tedious.
I wish I could grasp completionism a bit more, my backlog is growing and growing, but I can't find time to finish a game befor I lose interest.
agree. and totally agree.
I remember when I was obsessed with completion. I did everything there is to do in FFX, got all of the Ultimate Weapons, maxed out my sphere grids, collected all the monsters to create the extra bosses, and then killed those bastards. I think I lost my will for completionism with the latest Star Ocean game, some of the achievements were just silly.
It's fun to complete games. Getting that Platinum trophy or achievement makes you feel so good!
Platinuming or 100% anything is so cool, but I see where you're coming from Mr. Biessener. Many of just don't have the time/patience any more. I might sound like an old person, but "those darned trophies/achievements, I'm just too tired for all that!" Really, if a game is good enough, I believe you should love it with or without full completion. That, or just try and obtain immortal life. Then you could finish everything.