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The Gaming Multi-Tasker, and Why I Can't Do It

A month after I first started here on GIO, I wrote a post about my inability to multi-task my gaming. I am a compulsive completionist in the sense that I can't play multiple games at the same time. If I buy two games at the same time, I most likely will have to finish one of them before I can start playing the other one. I will put the second game in to make sure the disc works, but I won't start the game. Too many times I've played just a little bit of the game to make sure it works, and this part includes the controls tutorial. Then, when I do get back to the game, I forget how everything works and I'm blundering around getting killed because the "X" button releases a grenade at my feet instead of jumping like it did in the first game.

I wanted to revisit that post for a couple of reasons. One, it didn't get many views, so I don't think that many people read it. I had reached Level 5, but I hadn't really established myself on here yet, and thus nobody looked at it.

I would never re-post a blog just for hits, though. The main reason I wanted to re-post it is because it's even more relevant now than it was back then. There's the Christmas season, of course, where people are getting a bunch of good games all at once (is there ever a greater gaming haul than at Christmas?). For me personally, who didn't get any games for Christmas (we don't really exchange gifts), I still took advantage of sales, as well as 2011 being a huge year for great new releases that I had to buy. Thus, my gaming backlog is huge now. I think I have five games or full DLC (LA Noire's last DLC and GTA IV's "Ballad of Gay Tony") that are sitting here waiting for me to finish Saint's Row 3. I've never had a backlog like this, and I'm even holding off on purchasing other games in the hopes that they'll go down in price by the time I'm ready to play them (such as Infamous 2) .

This post is from June 20, 2010. Today, my arcade game of choice would be Pinball FX2 and not Geometry Wars, and the games references are obviously dated to the Summer of 2010.

But the rest of the post is still as true today as it was back then. I'd love to get your thoughts on playing multiple games, and whether you can do that or not.

Here it is.

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Some people can multi-task while others have a hard time doing that.  Then there are some of us that are fine at multi-tasking but don't have the ability to spread their interest around multiple "fun" activities at the same time.

For me, that happens in respect to video games.

(Is this guy a gaming multi-tasker?)

What the heck am I talking about?  I've mentioned this in some comments on other people's blog posts, so this will be familiar to some, but I just don't have the ability to be involved in multiple video games at the same time.  I'm not talking about arcade-type games, like Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2Zombie Apocalypse, or any other arcade-type game.  I'm talking about games with any kind of story, where you can honestly reach a point where you can say "I completed that game."

I can't take, for example, Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption and alternate playing them.  Playing one game for a little while and then sticking the other one in and playing it for a while is just against my programming.  I'm a Compulsive Completer; I have to finish a game before I can go on to the next one.  I may play an arcade game in the middle of that if circumstances warrant, like I only have 30 minutes to play and I don't want to be in the middle of a mission or something like that.  But that's the extent of it.  I'm even getting that a little bit right now, where I'm playing Magic: The Gathering and trying to complete all of the Campaign games before going on to Mass Effect 2 (which I was holding off on because I got RDR at the same time).

All of the gaming systems are in our living room, so I play them while my wife works on the computer.  Sometimes I'm getting frustrated with a game and she'll turn to me and say "play something else."  Now that I have a few arcade games in my library, I can actually do that.  Before, though, it was basically impossible.  I would either just stop playing completely (maybe time to read a book instead or watch TV instead?) or continue battering my head against whatever situation was frustrating me.  When I went to turn on the game system, I would sometimes think "Hey, maybe I should stick Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood in and see how that goes before coming back to finish CSI: Hard Evidence.  I would literally stop and think for a few seconds before finally I just hit "play" on the game that's already in the console.

This kind of reflects back to my post on replaying games.  That's one reason I generally don't replay story-based games; there's always something waiting in the wings, something I've either already bought and am not playing or something that I've been waiting to buy because there's no point in it until I'm ready for it.

I think back to the post in the forum about "which games didn't you finish?" and remember some of the answers where people said they were 10-20 hours (or even 30) in two or three different games.  My mind just boggled at the concept.

I do kind of make an exception for a multiplayer mode that I particularly like, though even then it's tough.  I finished Call of Duty: World at War and played a lot of multiplayer on it.  However, when I bought a new game, I didn't play it nearly as much, to the point where I did finally stop after a while.

When I think about alternating games, I almost feel like this is going to happen.

And we don't want that.

So are you a Compulsive Completist?  Or are you one of those who can be involved in multiple games at the same time?

 

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