In Real Life

I Think I Need To Join Trophy Whores Anonymous

My name is Richard, and I have a problem. When it comes to games, I am a completionist. If there is a nook left unexplored or some random item that needs to be collected, I feel compelled to spend hours getting the job done.

What’s odd is I don’t find it fun to do these things — I don’t know if I have ever found them fun to do. Rather I feel that I need to do them just because they are there.

It wasn’t like this when I started gaming. I’d play a game until I beat it and then move onto the next. It was simple.

But then, little by little, more and more “sidequests”, “minigames” and “collectibles” entered the game worlds I visited — where often the promise of an extra ending was dangled in front of me as the ultimate goal. But it wasn’t until the arrival of trophies and achievements that it really got bad for me.

Years ago I gave up on playing hard mode in games as it made them more stressful than fun (a blow to the old ego indeed). But trophies changed all that. Suddenly, there was a record for all the world to see “how much of a gamer” I really was. And while I never really felt the need to compare my “e-penis” to everyone else’s, a quick glance at the trophy menu would often cause me to say, “Oh well, that trophy will only take an hour or two; so let’s do it.”

At first getting trophies was somewhat fun: They showed me cool things to do that I might had missed without the trophy incentive. But recently, they have become the work I have to do before I get to the part I really like: the story.

But over the holiday break, I took my first big step. I didn’t master Assassins Creed III like I had the last three games in the series. Oh sure, I still wasted a few hours doing things I hated like collecting pages and feathers, and mapping the wilderness. But when the fun sidequests (read: building my homestead, playing pirate, and everything else even remotely story related) were finished, I beat the game and never looked back.

Of course, even then I spent more time sidequesting than I did on the main story — which made the game feel far more disjointed that it probably really was. However, I still feel I enjoyed the game far more than if I had spent numerous boredom-inducing hours hunting or crafting.

Then, last week I even managed to play Yakuza 5 without winning every taxi street race, mastering Virtua Fighter 2 in the game’s arcade, and picking up every piece of trash to be found on the streets of Japan.

I don’t know why I am this way. Maybe I am just a bit obsessive-compulsive. Maybe I just have too much of an ego for my own good and I refuse to let the game beat me despite its arbitrary, time-wasting goals. (It’s probably the latter.) But the fact of the matter is I am ready to change. I am making it known now that I am done with useless sidequests and collectibles. Done for good.

My name is Richard and I am a recovering game completionist.