Editorial: Quinitialitis: The Nerd Disease

Friends, foes, minions, overlords, and Chet, I am here to warn you of a horrible disease. I have had it for quite some time and I have been irresponsible enough to not come forward until now. The guilt has finally become too thick however, and I finally must confess.

Doesn't a frog slice a castle in half or something?
One day I will complete this game.

I have Quinitialitis. The nerd-specific disease that only allows one to play five hours into a game before moving on. The ailment is such – with me at least – that I will start up a game with great fervor and excitement. I will have every intention to complete the game. I will be reasonable. “Of course I will not play every day,” I say to myself, “nor will I always be quite as excited, but goddamn it, now is the time to finally beat Link to the Past!”

Then, five hours in, all motivation drains away. It disappears as if it was never even there to begin with. I do not berate myself for not playing, for it is as if I never started playing the game at all.

The affliction is not as bad as it used to be. It got to a point when every single game I attempted to play was infected. Then the fever broke. I was able to play through most of Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and Link to the Past, the three games that plagued me hardest in the past.

Still, when I was younger, it was easy for me to play through old favourites or classics that I had yet to try. I was immune to the ailment. It is definitely not that I do not enjoy the inflicted games. In fact, there seems to be no pattern to when the sickness emerges.

The ending, however...
I've seen this about a hundred thousand times.

I could blame it on growing older and having no time. While it is true that I do not have the time for games that I did as a teenager, I am still able to make time when needed. I beat Skyward Sword and Mass Effect 3 very quickly and neither are particularly short games. I sunk a great deal of time into Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Enough time, in fact, needed to complete so many games that have fallen by the wayside to the relentless Quinitialitis.

Perhaps it is because the opening of an adventure game or an RPG can be argued to be the most exciting. The premise and world are new, the systems are fresh, and everything is easy to keep track of. Even as soon as the five hour mark, these elements can lose their edge if not tended to frequently.

Most likely, however, is the pressure I place on myself to replay my favourites. Games are not movies. This is a great distinction in many ways, but a downfall of the separation of the mediums is time needed to re-experience. My favourite movie is 109 minutes long. My favourite game is 10-60 hours long.

The longer a person is a gamer, the more games are added to his favourites and the less likely he is able to replay any of them with any frequency.

Then perhaps Quinitialitis is a natural thing. Less a disease to be feared and more a natural side effect of being a gamer.

What about you, fellow nerds? Do you suffer from this disease? If so, do you find it annoying? Natural? Bittersweet?


  1. Seriously annoying disorder, for which the only cure I have found is ingenious novelty.

    What I mean by that is, actually, fairly obvious. For the most part (with exceptions) I tend to finish games only if:

    1) They are exceptionally good, and
    2) I have not already finished them.

    Part of this is assuredly the time needed to re-experience. As you point out quite rightly, fans of JRPGs have a high bar for re-entry: the average JRPG is 40 hours in length, sometimes more if one is a completionist.

    Shorter games, or games which I know very well (and which I can therefore complete more quickly) tend to be replayed more often. Hence, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy Tactics and games in the Suikoden series do get replayed, despite their JRPGness. Also, short, stage-based games (especially with the Wii’s save state) are replayed: Castlevania, Mario, Mega Man, Metroid, Star Fox.

    What games do not get replayed? Anything with a lot of little, fiddly, grindy bits. Pokemon (I always have one file which I work on forever), probably Final Fantasy XIII-2 (see Pokemon), and MMOs in general, where ‘replaying’ means ‘levelling from naught’. Disgaea falls into this category, though FFT does not (at least, not to the same extent).

    So, essentially, what is the cause of Quintalitis? Frankly, I think it is the amount of in-between bits in games, combined with foreknowledge and/or a desire to get to the ‘good bits’. The more space there is between the desired story elements or settings, the harder it is to replay. One will find oneself trying to hurry from A to D, because one knows B and C well enough and isn’t interested by them. If this happens a sufficient number of times in a game, it is likely to be set aside.

    Shorter games, or games with shorter sequences of gameplay and story, move more quickly and tend to be more enjoyable. This is why I was able to replay Final Fantasy XIII not one or twice but thrice in the space of a few months. For all the griping about its linearity, it was a delightful experience specifically because it could be played in short, meaningful bursts without a great deal of fussing about–the bane of many JRPGs (a fact I am remembering in my Lunar SSSC playthrough).

    Of course I am an old codger, so the average age of my gaming collection increases yearly. I do not buy many new games, so the old stage-based platformers of the past are now, combined with Wii VC save states, a major repository of my gaming, and these games seldom need more than a couple hours to complete.

    Might I recommend the Castlevania series, Ethos? Play them in order and mayhap you will learn the joy of overcoming platforming and action in a 2D setting. (Best to play them with company–especially female–who will be awed by your eventual mastery of the setting.)

    In any case, I wish you luck. If you find a cure, do let me know.

  2. Hey, I think I might also have Quinitialitis; can you catch it from unprotected exposure to Riddlethos?

  3. My version of the disease must be mutated a good deal, at least when it comes to playing old favorites. New games I have yet to finish, however, I share almost the exact same symptoms. But with the old games, I’ll often get a tickle of nostalgia and go to my game shelf, pick up the game box and think, “Yes, this is what I want to do right now. This game, again. And all its bits and pieces in between…oh wait. There’s that REALLY dull part/annoying bit that I could never quite get through without looking through my old notes. Where are those again? Hmmmmm…”

    Then the lack of fun I’m having slowly dawns on me and I just go back to playing whatever quick multiplayer thing I have going at the moment. Sigh.

  4. I certainly do not suffer this problem myself…. I do have a list of games I have not completed but it’s due to not having time for all of them. Either that or the game wasn’t any good or even more common I’m much more interested in other games at the time. There are many games I’ve played over 100 times or more (Such as FF4) and I can still play thru and beat them. In record times mind you.

    I do think my one friend suffers this fate and worse…. the dreaded “Endingectamy” where she never finishes the game for fear of the story ending and the fun of the game being over…

  5. I feel remiss that I didn’t mention the fact that I can play and complete Skies of Arcadia Legends ANYTIME I pick it up, to this day. Something about that game…

    amirite, ethos? :D

  6. @Korusi: I have a SEVERE case of Endingectamy. I get to the last boss fight and often do not even attempt it. I simply stop playing the game there. Even in re-playthroughs of games I have already completed, I run up against this. It takes an actual deliberate act of will to complete games: for a review, for example, where I know I *have* to finish the game because I am expected to, or in a multiplayer game where I have to finish the storyline to make available certain multiplayer components.

    Other than that, finishing games is very rare for me. I get to the point where there is nothing to do but the final boss fight, and I stop. This is why moments like my completion of Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 are actually very significant.

  7. In my younger and more vulnerable days, I used to get about 2/3rds through a JRPG that I absolutely loved, then start over from the beginning to re-experience those moments which made me fall for the game. So it took years before I ever actually beat my favorite games. However, this didn’t apply at all to Mario, Zelda, Metroid, etc. games which I always played to completion, then again as I willed it.

    Nowadays, if there is a game I really like (for instance: just started FFXIII for the first time!), it may take a while to beat it, but I’m content with remembering parts that I like instead of actually having to go back and play them again. It saves a lot of time and effort to pinpoint what you know you’re going to love, and leave behind what you’re just willing to dabble in. In the latter case, maybe 5 hours is all their worth.

  8. I didn’t even consider Endingectamy! I was always so bedridden with Quinitialitis that I never thought it could get even worse. I luckily never experienced that. Once the ending is in sight, it’s an easy home stretch for me.

    Really loving all the variations on the theme here.

    @Matt – Your experience is part of my Quinitialitis sometimes. Not so often anymore, but I would also replay the beginning to replay favourite moments. Final Fantasy VII is the biggest victim of that. I’ve actually only completed the game once, and I’ve probably played up to Kalm over 10 times.

  9. Also, Mel. Skies of Arcadia is amazing. Although not quite so accessible. I don’t know how often I’ll be replaying it until it’s available on handheld.

  10. Aw, I’ve replayed that game….12 times? More, probably. Also, boo handhelds! But that’s just me.

  11. I think FF7 was the only time I ever really had an issue with the start of the game…. it was mostly Midgar though. Midgar used to be just….. yeah – but now I breeze through it. Also it didn’t help at the time I had to keep replaying through it because every time I started the game there were some reason I couldn’t finish. Also that stupid train cable…. THAT STUPID TIMED TRAIN CABLE….

  12. @Ethos: SoA would make for a fantastic handheld title, as would shenmue. Sega need to get cracking on that, enough with HD ports of Crazy Taxi and Bass Fishing, they need to release something good for a change!

  13. @SN: Didn’t Sega recently take a bit of a financial hit? I think they were talking about scaling back their projects. Even though I wouldn’t prefer to see a game like SoA ported to a handheld, if it never sees the light of day again, that’s much much worse. I suppose a simple port wouldn’t be an expensive project, but would it sell enough? I don’t know…

  14. @SN/Mel – I’m all for console JRPG experiences, but something a little dated and maybe more grindy than it should be like SoA is perfect for a modern handheld.

    @Korusi – I’m opposite with FF7, like I said. All Midgar, all the time.

    @Mel – I have no idea about Sega’s financial state, but I get the feeling that because it’s been 10 years since Skies of Arcadia, we probably won’t see that franchise again.

  15. Playing FFVII when it came out and having mostly avoided prerelease stuff I wasn’t even sure there would be a world map. And it was like, “HOLY SHIT THIS IS AWESOME; WHY DOES HE HAVE A MACHINEGUN HAND; OH MY GOD THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME; ALSO, WHY IS THERE A HOUSE MONSTER!??!”

    @Lusipurr, You, sir, are a monster for suggesting Ethos play Simon’s Quest!!! No one should be subjected to that monstrosity! It features fake floors you need to spam Holy Water to identify. Townspeople who, unlike not-awful game townspeople, are lying bastards. Puzzles that make absolutely no sense (why would you kneel by the mountain wall thing and use a crystal?). Why would you throw garlic on the ground in a cemetary? And why would game developers think we wanted to stare blankly at the screen for 30 seconds while it says “IT’S A TERRIBLE NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE.” as if that means something?!? I bite my thumb at you, sir!!! Good day!

    It does have good music, though.

  16. @Ethos, you need to forge your way through and play Final Fantasy 6. It, like Chrono Trigger, is one of the greatest games ever made. A Link to the Past, while a good game, is arduously long and does do lots of the Zelda game thing where they make you collect a bunch of something to Prove You Worth that the God of War games would later do the crap out of. Plus, spoilers, Link gets turned into a pink bunny for a bit and then gets better and then shoots Gannon (he’s a giant pig monster) with Light Arrows and then stabs him with the Master Sword and he dies because that’s what happens in Zelda games.

  17. @Ethos: Yeah, I was reading something last week about how they lost about 8 billion yen, which is about 99 million dollars. It’s coming with a massive restructuring kind of like that one in 2003 that got rid of Overworks, the small former Sega studio that made SoA in the first place. And they said some projects are going to get dropped, but they didn’t specify. So if any hope for SoA was left, it got blown away now.

  18. I have reverse Endingectamy. The further I get into a game, the more likely I am to finish it; I’m a whole lot more likely to just give up and abandon a game after a few hours than I am when I’m sitting at the final save point. Part of that, I think, is my increasing lack of patience for bad games. If I’m not into a game after a few hours, I’ll just abandon it and move on.

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