Editorial: In Defence of Being an Indecisive Prick

There comes a point in every gent’s life when he must stop, take stock and assess his priorities. Ask himself where he’s headed, and whether or not the pursuits to which he is engaged are productive ventures or futile dead-ends, as frivolous as a Texan lawsuit. I had one such moment this week when I was forced to question my weak will and near bottomless capacity for self-indulgence, ah but I’m getting ahead of myself.

There was a time in my life when I used to complete a fair number of games. A time when finances were a little scarcer, there were fewer commitments vying for my time, and thus I was a thriftier gamer, completing many a title. But with means comes temptation, and with temptation the unerring inclination to submit, until I find myself in a situation where I am currently playing Mass Effect 2, Alan Wake, Skies of Arcadia, Twin Snakes, Peace Walker, Resident Evil (Remake) and the other night I started Chrono Cross again because I felt like a change. In short I have never had less free time, while by the same token I have never had more games on the go at any one time (and this is not even counting all the entirely worthy games that I have abandoned this year).

He won't ever stop till it's finished

In my defence circumstances did conspire to deliver a veritable gaming bounty into my lap, all at the one time. You see I stumbled upon the opportunity to pick up a Wii cheaply earlier in the year, and then a scant few weeks later I received my refurbished 360 back from the Microsoft reanimation centre after a lengthy dormancy, needless to say that quite a backlog of titles had pent up between both consoles. But in the same breath, I cannot in good conscience blame my circumstances on circumstance alone. I have been heading down this path for a long while now, I just can’t just seem to sit myself down and force myself to plough my way through a title from beginning to end like the Oliver Motoks of this world.

I start each and every game with only the best of intentions, yet am defeated time and again by the weakest aspects of my nature. Sometimes it is the release of a shiny new game that I just have to play, more often though I just play something for a while and then feel like playing something different. It isn’t that the games have ceased to be fun or rewarding, it’s just that I’ll get it into my head that I want to play a very particular type of game. If I’m playing an RPG then I’ll often crave the heady excitement of an action game, if I’m playing an action title then I’ll often crave the more intellectually stimulating and methodical gameplay of an RPG, and if I’m playing the indecisive, bastardised chimera that is the action RPG, then I could probably have a bob each way.

For better or worse I am a shamelessly promiscuous gamer

Thus I found myself in the position the other night, staring at length at the small obelisk of my now playing pile, weighing up their relative merits and responding with a very real mental fatigue at the thought of playing any of them. I subsequently found myself beginning a game of Chrono Cross, a game that I have virtually no chance of completing, but one that I have been having great fun with nonetheless. And therein lies the rub; I have begun many stories that I will never finish, waged many campaigns that now lie abandoned, yet I have never forced myself to play something that I didn’t want to, and thus my gaming experience has always been a fun one. Sure I don’t often get the pent up cathartic overflow of gratification which comes with completing a game (having only completed Arkham Asylum and FFVII in the past year), yet my gaming experience is always a fresh and enjoyable one, free as it is from any semblance of obligation.

Thus I arrive at the simple question; is it wrong to opt for fun over achievement? If I am entertained each and every time I play a game is that not enough, or am I supposed to commit myself to the labours of each and every digital undertaking, working towards the payoff at the conclusion? Should I continue playing past the point where the game has ceased being fun, and feels more like work?

Is it wrong to play what I want when I want to play it?

14 comments

  1. I say there’s nothing wrong with playing only the games you consider fun. As I’ve said before, I think the fastest way to start hating a game is to force yourself to play it when you don’t want to. I feel that’s what happened to my with Lost Odyssey, and that’s an experience I’ll never be able to enjoy now. Games are meant to be fun, I say there’s nothing wrong with enjoying whatever game you’re playing at the moment.

    That being said, you’re a horrible person. Go finish your games! There are starving children in Africa who could eat those games you’re wasting!

  2. Were I to declare the contents of your post myself, substituting only a different selection of games, it would be no less true.

    Ultimately, games exist to provide fun. The very definition of a game is to entertain. This must be kept in mind.

    At the moment a game stops entertaining there is no reason to play it any longer. Continuing to play solely for the glory of saying one has completed the title is not dissimilar to cutting off one’s arms and legs for the glory of saying one can bear the pain: one will only impress equally idiotic people.

    It is not just misguided, but actually profoundly wrong, to expect people to sit through unentertaining, miserable dross in order to get to a fabled ‘good point’–nor should any player be expected to do so. Such an arrangement is a sign of bad design.

    As such, if one turns a game on and does not enjoy it, one should turn it off and procure a game made by a designer who has a better grasp of what it means to design a good game. Apologists and fanboys will say ‘it is worth it’ to endure rubbish, but why endure rubbish when one can play something which is rubbish-free? This is not 1985. Myriad titles exist. The time-strapped gamer can afford to be choosy; and he should. Continuing to support bad design with one’s limited time and funds will only perpetuate ineptitude. Better to eschew it entirely in favour of a game that lives up to the title of game.

  3. To be fair, the games I’ve ceased playing were not for the most part poorly designed dross, I just had fun playing them, tired of them, and then set them aside.

    Part of correcting any personal failing is admitting you have a problem, but I’m not entirely sure that I do in this instance. I would like to be able to enjoy my games in a more focussed, thorough way, but since I can’t, I don’t see the point in forcing myself to try.

    This is probably why I will never understand people dedicating dozens of hours of their lives in order to platinum a game … :/

  4. @SN: I have countless games in the ‘in progress’ stage, many of which will never be finished as I simply sold them once I admitted that I’d never get around to playing–let alone completeing–them again.

    The point is that if you are no longer interested in playing something, you are absolutely right to set it down and come back to it when your attentions turn in that direction again. You are not playing games to appease the puerile demands of little people who bitch and rail about uncompleted efforts. You are playing to entertain yourself–and because that is the purpose of games, you only need to please yourself. Everyone else (and their opinions, however strongly held) is irrelevent.

  5. This article isn’t really a response to the quibbles of the little people, it is merely the result of taking stock earlier in the week, and asking myself whether I was wasting time and money by not finishing all the games that I’ve started. I have come to the position that it probably isn’t such a bad thing provided that I get at least a day’s worth of entertainment from my purchases.

  6. @SN: Well, if you are only asking yourself if you are satisfied, you can’t really expect us to answer that for you. It’s a bit like authoring a post saying, “Do I like pie?” There’s nothing we can contribute.

    Whether your feelings are justified or not based on the situational evidence presented–only there can we begin to comment. But, if you wish to preclude discussion on those topics, there is nothing left for us to say.

  7. Oh, no, I’m still looking for people to weigh in with their own views and advice on my situation (I have come to a position, yet it is an uneasy one).I’m just pointing out that the editorial isn’t aimed at anyone in particular, certainly not in the same way that an editorial soliciting advice on purchasing a GO might be.

    I certainly didn’t mean to shut down conversation. I’m just trying to frame this as an argument I had with myself. :(

  8. I have 288 games that I have yet to beat, Most I have not even started…

  9. Since I started keeping track (granted, that’s only a few years ago), I’ve failed to finish in some form or another 16 games (one of those is P3P, which I’m still actively playing), and bought 9 games I haven’t yet started.

    For comparison, I’ve finished 45 games in that time. All in all, I’m pretty happy with my ratio.

    I’ve “100%ed” only 7 games (that I can remember), 3 of which were Final Fantasy titles.

    Also, I’d like to propose that SN doesn’t like pie.

  10. That’s just what you want us to think, you anti-pie-ite

  11. To hell with your pies! I haven’t finished a pie in 26 years!

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