Yea, yea. I know, I’m supposed to be talking about patch 5.0 and how to get ready for it. But I’m not! (I’m such a rebel! Look out now!). Instead I’m going to talk about something else: finishing games.
A couple of weeks ago I saw that there was a new Kingdom Hearts out for the 3DS. I just had to have it, and so I asked Brade if he could pick me up a copy so that I could enjoy it. He gave me the look, you know the one, it’s the one that says “but you have all of these other unfinished games (and unstarted!) that you can play!”. But none the less the next day he came home from work and lovingly handed me a copy of the new Kingdom Hearts and I was quite excited.
However, this copy of Kingdom Hearts, that I just had to have, is still sitting on my desk unopened and unplayed. Which is actually kind of sad, because I can play the 3DS without too much discomfort to my hands. And, well, it’s borderline tragic because hello it’s KINGDOM HEARTS. If you’ve never played the series, perhaps you don’t understand. But getting to kick ass with Mickey and Sora is just, well, magical (plus….Gummy Ships, just sayin’).
Anyhow, the other day I was bemoaning how bored I was to anyone who would listen (pretty much the dog and Brade). I didn’t want to play WoW. I was tired of TV. I’d finished my book. Brade was leveling his RAF toons for me, so he wouldn’t be so far behind on his monk and we’d still get to do our dungeon grinding pretty much together, so there were no board games to be had. And WOE IS ME the world was ENDING from BOREDOM.
I am not exaggerating the travesty of this situation.
At some point in my “I’m soooooo bored” routine, Brade looks at me and says “why don’t you open up Kingdom Hearts, you wanted it so badly, and it’s still in the package”. YES! That is a FABULOUS idea! Except, oh wait, I can’t. “What do you mean you can’t”, he says. Well…you see I still have Super Mario 3D in there, and I’m not done yet. I’m almost done, but I don’t have enough coins to go into the next castle, and I have to go farm them. I don’t want to farm more coins.
“Well, if you aren’t having fun with that game anymore, you’ve finished it to the extent you wanted, you played through the fun, and you can move on. There’s no rule that says you have to complete it”.
But, but…I’m not DONE. I have a couple of more levels in the upside down world, and I haven’t BEATEN it yet. How can I be FINISHED?! What about Luigi? What about Peach? WHAT ABOUT TOAD?!?! How can I simply leave them to their peril and not complete the game?
I opened up my web guide thingie that talks to me about where the coins are in each level – that I’ve missed – and give tips on how to get them. But each time I turn the game on, I continue to stall. I find something else to do. Because the truth is that I really don’t want to farm more coins. But I can’t finish upside down world without them. Which, of course, makes me wonder if perhaps Brade is right.
Is the point at which you’ve expired the fun in a game, Game Over?
I mean, I am obviously having a hard time with this concept. I really don’t want to farm more coins just to progress, which is why I put it down in the first place. But at the same time I really don’t want to leave the game unfinished. So should I slog through something I don’t necessarily want to do, just for the sake of completion? Do I lose gamer “cred” because I didn’t finish? Why do I even care?! My head – it is exploding! SEND HELP!
In thinking about this, I question why I don’t want to go back and farm all of the coins. The answer is fairly simple: I already farmed all of the easy ones. The ones that are left are tricky to obtain – and often require movements combos that either a)struggle with, or b) cause pain in my hands to try to coordinate. It’s more from the “a” column than from the “b” – as there were only a few coins (and levels) that really bothered my hands. Mostly it was my frustration about not being able to execute what I needed to well enough to complete the task. And if you look through my game, the levels in which I am still missing coins all have one thing in common: moving parts. Either the level itself scrolls, or the mechanics of the level are such that there are a lot of moving parts (platforms that change each time you jump, etc.). And I think it’s this realization that makes me want to stick it out and get all the stupid coins needed to finish the last couple levels of the game. Because giving up on it feels, to me, like I’m quitting something because it’s “too hard”.
And that’s just not my style.
But then I think about all of the games I’ve got on “hold” or haven’t even started. Portal 2 is still unfinished because my hard drive crashed and I never got back to it after the replacement came in – even though Brade and I have both heard that the co-op is amazing. I just had to have Skyrim, because everyone was talking about it and Brade was so engrossed in it I wanted to see what it was all about…and I’ve put less than 10 hours into the game. I needed the new Zelda, because, well, ZELDA! And we even bought a new controller for it, because our controllers were old and not the motion plus ones. And I think the game is still in the packaging. And, folks, I am almost ashamed to admit that this is only the tip of the iceburg. You have no idea.
Part of the reason that my “stash” is so large is because of WoW. I won’t lie. Many of those other games fell to the wayside because I spent so much time in game (and not in game) focused on WoW. My console shelf is threatining to go to the isle of misfit toys because of the level of neglect that it has seen. I own every gaming system available. And yet spend so little time on anything other than my PC. It’s almost a tragedy worth a pulitzer prize winning story. (ok…that might be taking it too far). I have often wondered if it’s because WoW is like Lambchop – the game that never ends. But here, at the end of the expansion, when I’m not playing a lot of WoW anyhow – what excuse do I have?
Welp, I think some of it is just because I’m not putting enough effort into cleaning off my “stash shelf”. But I think some of it is also because of the “unfinished” syndrome. On my PC lives Portal and Skyrim – still waiting to complete. On my Wii is Epic Mickey (with the damn painbrush nunchuck that was necessary for the game – don’t let anyone convince you otherwise). On my PS3 is the last Final Fantasy, which I’m not sure I even finished out of the “tutorial” part of it. And on my Xbox, well, I just have Kinect for that, really…but I haven’t unlocked all of the Dance Central levels yet!
The thing is, I love games. I love all of the games that are on “hold” right now (some of which have been for years), which is why I bought them. I’ve neglected so many because of WoW. And I’ve neglected others for reasons I don’t even know if I have. But I can’t help wonder if, like Mario, what keeps me from moving forward is completion of my current games. And why it is that I put these completely arbitrary expectations of “completion” on myself.
When is “Game Over”, really? Is it the completion of a game? Or is it the point that you cease to enjoy a given game?
I don’t know if I have an answer for that, since I’ve rambled for over a thousand words and I’m no closer to figuring it out than I was when I sat down to write this post. Part of me says it’s when you see the credits roll by – but the other part of me says that if I’m not having fun anymore it’s okay to shelve a game and put a new cartridge into the machiene. And, really, there is a small part of my mind that can’t help but wondering if MMOs have ruined “Game Over” for me. I don’t think that is the case – but I can’t tell you off the top of my head the last single player (or co-op) game I’ve finished in the past 8 years. So very puzzling indeed.
What do you think? When is “Game Over”?