Over the weekend I spent four hours playing through a game I’d already beaten. Why? To collect trophies. In the last week I’ve spent sixteen hours playing through parts of another game I’ve played twice already, just because I didn’t like the choices I’d made and the stats I’d leveled up in that character. I’ve spent 30 hours in another game just to unlock a building so I can get bootleg tapes from a dog’s musical performances.
I am very persistent.
But this persistence is not something that comes to me on any given game, my involvement with Injustice: Gods Among Us lasted only as long as it took my girlfriend to finish work and get ready to go out, and it certainly isn’t anything that I can predict. After beating Bioshock Infinite, I decided it would be a perfect time to play through all of Plants vs Zombies again. Maybe my brain needed a break from all the high level thinking Infinite required. I’m not sure.
What I am sure about is that games allow us to indulge the best and worst of our obsessive sides.
Compared to many gamers, I practically don’t play video games. There are hundreds of thousands of people who wake up and play League of Legends until their body’s needs become to pressing to ignore. Millions of people play World of Warcraft for dozens of hours a week to get a shiny new sword. Some EVE players are so persistent in their pursuit of that game that they go so far as to commit espionage and sabotage against other players in the real world.
Of course games aren’t the only medium to allow humans to obsess to this degree, but it certainly makes it a lot easier to become so doggedly persistent in pursuing these goals that so many would view as having questionable value. We can put 300 hours into a game like Dark Souls and still not see all the content there is to see, while after one-hundred and fifty viewings you’ve probably pulled all you really can from The Empire Strikes Back. Which isn’t to say that you can’t still enjoy Empire, of course.
So maybe it isn’t that video games, in and of themselves, are any better at triggering our dogged persistences but perhaps it’s because the modern game offers so much more content than most any other medium. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve stayed up until dawn to finish a great book, but I never do that with games because I know that the game won’t be over. When the last page is done my journey from A to B is finished.
But with a good game?
The journey is just getting started.