Monday, November 25, 2013

Nerdicus Rant #1 : Gaming OCD

I swore I would never fall victim to it again, but here I am, putting myself through the same torment that I had done so many times before. I'll even say to myself that now will be the last time I do it, but I know it won't be. It'll suck me back in, just as it has done before. 

Of course, I'm talking about Pokemon.

I originally realized I had a problem back in 7th grade when I first got my hands on Pokemon Red. I thought that once I ran through the game, I'd be done with it. But I wasn't even close. The fact that by the time I had beaten the game I barely had over half the amount of Pokemon that existed in the world annoyed the hell out of me. Those blank spaces in my Pokedex drove me insane. So, I would force my friends to trade with me after they were done just to ensure I had all the pokemons across both version. I spent time during health class just gaming in the back of the room, capturing rare pokemon. Eventually, I caught all of them except for Mew. Years later, I would catch him though in a legit method just to complete the 151. 

I was victorious.

But times have changed now. Now there's over 650 pokemon. And here I am again. Wanting to catch them all, but knowing it's seemingly impossible. But by God I am going to try.

Here in lies my problem - I have an extreme case of Gaming OCD. When something like a Pokedex falls upon me, I NEED to complete it. And that's not the only thing. Over the years I have realized that this stretches across all games that I have played in the past, with some being worse than others. It doesn't matter what I play though, in each case my "illness" rears its ugly head and takes over. So read on if you want, and see if you suffer from the same ailments that I do.

Example #1 - Achievement / Trophy Hunter

PS / XBOX / STEAM - it doesn't matter. Since the introduction of achievements / trophies / badges, the way I game has changed considerably.  It's changed to the point where I sometimes don't even enjoy the game anymore because I'm always aware of a new achievement task that is coming up. If I miss it, I usually end up starting an area over if I'm lucky enough to go back to a checkpoint. Sometimes it's so bad that I start the entire game over from scratch. Luckily, this happens rarely now.

One of the most recent cases was during Deus Ex : Revolution. I challenged myself to get 1000/1000 gamer points by going through the entire game in stealth mode. My friend said I was crazy. I agreed. The thing was, I wouldn't know if I achieved this until the credits were rolling. I could have very well put 30+ hours into a game, with no idea if I succeeded. For those of you who haven't tried this, it's pretty challenging. No one can notice you, and you can't kill anyone. Even the final boss. Well, luckily I managed to get the achievement. If I didn't, I probably would have broken a controller or two. 

I don't even understand my obsession with achievements. I tell myself it's because it makes the game more challenging, but honestly it just makes it more annoying. It's not like achievements get you anything besides "bragging rights." The only solution I've found to ignore the achievement ADD is to never even look at achievements. If I get one, great. If not, who cares. I didn't know about it anyway.

Example #2 - Exploration

I really am obsessed with Elder Scrolls Games. Of all games, I probably have the most playing time pumped into these. I know Skyrim had easily over 200+ hours, and if it wasn't for my busy schedule (gaming / writing / art), I'd probably still be putting more time in. 

The thing is, I would say at least HALF of my time in Skyrim was just spent exploring. See all those little icons on the map that designate an area of travel? Yeah, I needed to find ALL of them. I developed a nervous twitch when I realized I was missing some. 

I had the same issue back in the day when I used to play Diablo or Baldurs gate. You know when you have "FOG OF WAR" that covers areas of the map that you haven't explored yet? Well, if those were on my screen, I wasn't moving on until the black fog was gone. It didn't matter if I knew nothing would be over there, I needed have a fully visible map. Even when I played the Warcraft games, I would use the spell to visibly reveal blocked off areas of the map. 

Example #3 - Collecting Items / Hoarding

This problem only really plagues me in RPG's. I have this strange obsession of collecting and keeping everything I come across, knowing fully well that I'll never use 1% of them in the game. In WOW, my bank pretty much looked like the one in the screen shot above. In Elder Scrolls game, all my chests in my house were filled with garbage weapons and scrolls / books that I'd never read.
I would also need to complete sets of armor, even though I know I wouldn't wear it. If I was missing a helmet or something, I would go absolutely ape shit until I found it. It was a lot worse in MMO's when I had to sit around and camp for hours just to get my next piece of gear. It was even worse when I knew I had to drag my guild members a long with me for the ride.

Spell books needed to have every spell memorized. Weapons needed every type of ammo imaginable. Even lore books needed to be collected and placed neatly on a shelf in order. It was bad. 

Real Bad.

Example #4 - KD Ratio

Now this one used to be pretty bad for me. It's also something that had ended up ruining FPS games for me the last few years. KD is your Kills to Death ratio. Long story short, it usually comes down to how good you are at FPS. The higher the KD, the better you are. I guess you would say I maintain an average KD ratio across all the shooter games I play. It always floats around 1.5 but the thing is I made it worse for myself when I was obsessed with getting it as high as possible.

I didn't even enjoy shooter games the last few years because after each match I would just obsess over how my KD is doing. If it dropped a point from a bad match, I'd have a fit. If it only went up a fraction of a point, I'd also have another fit. I played the games methodically, instead of just trying to go out there and have fun.

Lately, I've forced myself to ignore my KD. And as it turns out, by not giving a crap it allows me to play better. For the first time in years, I'm actually enjoying FPS. Do yourself a favor, don't fall victim to the KD trap. Who cares what it is. Just have fun.

Example #5 - Gaming Quirks / Rituals

This is something gamers develop across a range of video games. Whether it's having to constantly jump around like Mario is doing above, or even spamming the fire button when there are no enemies, it's these little things that you always find yourself doing. It doesn't even have to be IN the game. It could be things you do while gaming. I've noticed myself doing quite a few -

1) Naming characters the same across games
2) Spamming fire buttons in shooters / platforms
3) Constantly pressing a button to skip past dialogue or a cut scene, even when there is no dialogue or cut scenes. Basically, pressing buttons for no reason.
4) Blowing in a NES game before even trying to see if it works (I know this is bad now)
5) Creating multiple save files. Just in case.

Example #6 - Talking to EVERYONE

This one takes the cake in my eyes. For those of you who are hardcore RPG players, you probably do this too. Every person, in every town / village / castle / whatever NEEDS to be spoken too. It doesn't matter if they don't have anything worth while to say, or progresses the game at all. You have to hear what they say. 

Hell, I bet HALF of the time you just scroll through what they say and don't even pay attention to it? You are basically mentally checking off that you have talked to this person. But what's even worse, is when certain games have dialogues that change as the game progresses. Or sometimes when things are different during day / night cycles. Now you have to keep on talking to the same person over and over again just to find out if they have anything new to say. 

It's torture.

Well, that's about all folks. I'll share a few links with you now of a similar articles that I came across as I was writing this one. It talks about some great instances, a few of which I have talked about here, where gamers find themselves developing the strangest in game habits.

So, how about you? What symptoms of Gaming OCD do you have? Comment below, and don't forget until next time, keep on gaming.



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