We’ve all obsessed over a game at some point or another. If you haven’t, you may want to find another hobby. Obsession is what drives us to push on, no matter how many times we’ve failed. It gets us through our long days, as we have something to look forward to in the evenings. It drives people to invent, to create, and to improve the technology we use. Yes, obsession is a healthy part of gaming.
I feel that there are two main types of obsession for gamers: short-term and long-term. Short-term obsession occurs when a game is so good that you just can’t stop playing. When not playing, thoughts of it keep coming into your head: Strategy planning, speculation on future plot points, and stuff like that. Long-term obsession often accompanies massive games, such as MMOs. It’s possible to forget about your own life for years when one of these obsessions takes over.
It’s likely that people become obsessed with different games for very different reasons. I’m interested to hear which games people have obsessed over and why, but first I’ll give a few examples from my own life.
Okay, so this past week, I decided to play one of the games I’d missed from 2012; one that I’d heard was very good: The Walking Dead. I’ve read the comics and seen some of the TV show, so I had high expectations. Of course, I had no idea how thrilling the story would be, or how much it would draw me in. After that first chapter, I wanted more. Thankfully, all five chapters are available now, but I have this unfortunate thing called a life to live, so I couldn’t just power through them all in one go. No, I had to get through my long days and wait for my free time in the evenings.
As I’m sure you know, this kind of thing isn’t easy. When a game is stuck in your head, concentrating on anything else is very difficult. I just had to find out what happened next, and couldn’t wait to do so. In this instance, it was definitely the story that grabbed me: The bleak desperation; the twists and turns; the decisions I made. Finding out the fate of these characters has been on my mind all week, and I loved it.
Being drawn into a game so much seems fleeting to me these days. As a kid, I used to obsess over games far more often. Maybe I’ve just become jaded over time, or maybe games just aren’t as addictive. Then again, with so many other ways of entertaining ourselves in our modern age, it’s understandable that people have a hard time keeping their focus on any one thing. I still like a lot of games, but don’t get the feeling that I just have to keep on playing until I reach the end.
These short-term obsessions over single titles are nothing compared to the monster called long-term obsession, though. Yes, like many others, I’ve been a victim of this, too. Strangely enough, it wasn’t over an MMO, although I did spend about 700 hours playing Final Fantasy XI. Some would say that you have to be obsessed to play any game for that long, but anyone who’s actually played FFXI will know that 700 hours doesn’t get you that far (or maybe I’m just shit). No, my longest obsession with a game was over a little title called Rock Band.
Being a massive fan of Guitar Hero before it, I took to Rock Band like a junkie takes to Herion. I started playing on the morning of November 20th, 2007 and barely stopped for the next few years. I bought songs almost every week from the Music Store, and spent hours perfecting expert level on the tracks I had. The thrill of mastering a difficult section or understanding a complex beat was the force that drove my obsession (I played the drums, by the way). Different bands have different styles of play, so there was always something new to try out. Ultimately, the thrill of getting gold star rankings and progressing up the leaderboards was what kept me going.
Every day I looked forward to getting home from work and picking up those drumsticks – it was all I could think about. This obsession had a big problem, though: I didn’t want to play anything else. I bought other games; I started other games; I even finished a few, but most of the time I just played Rock Band. I wanted to get better and better, until I had mastered the most difficult of tracks. I never quite got to that level, and probably won’t now that my obsession has faded, but I still find myself playing fairly often.
Creative games can also lead to obsessions. If it weren’t for obsession, we wouldn’t have all those elaborate LittleBigPlanet levels, or those incredibly-detailed Minecraft recreations. I’ll admit that I did become slightly obsessed with Minecraft for a while, but never to the extent that some clearly have. However, with games such as these, we can all enjoy the products of another’s hard work.
I would imagine that online, competitive games could lead to obsession, too. This isn’t really the type of game that I enjoy, but I’m sure that many have fallen victim to Call of Duty and Halo’s online multiplayer – creating clans, raising ranks, unlocking items, and dominating the leaderboards. I could see this type of experience being incredibly addictive, so I suppose I’m slightly thankful that I’m not into that type of thing. After all, there are plenty of other games to play, and limited hours in the day.
There are many types of games to obsess over, so I won’t start talking about them all. Instead, I’m going to leave it up to you. Leave a comment below telling us which games you’ve obsessed over in your lives, and which aspects drew you in. I’m really interested to hear about your experiences, and if I get some good ones, I may do a follow-up piece with the responses.
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