Monday, November 3


There's a link on today's Penny Arcade to what Tycho aptly describes as 'a meditation on starting into Fallout 3'. It's about appreciation and immersion, and it brought me to a pretty weird realization about myself.

This entry aside (oh god the irony), I don't spend all that much time in self-reflection; I prefer to live my life over thinking about it, even to the extent of preferring to plan as little as possible and just let events and other people's desires guide my actions. I like to think of myself as pretty immersed in my own life. But when I play games, I'm almost always playing some sort of meta-game, looking for cheats and walkthroughs on wikis. (Scroll down a bit, or ctrl-F for that link text, to see what I'm talking about there.  It's important, and not just for what I'm talking about now.) Even single-player games, where there's no competition, so there's no reward for metagaming. Why do I do that? Why do I have such a hard time turning in a quest without my refer-a-friend buddy there so I get triple XP?  Why do I reload my Civ games when Imperial Japan goes to war with me because of a decision I made 4 turns ago, so that I can repair the timeline and not get involved in the conflict until I have tanks and they barely have musketmen? The few times when the rules and context of a game have made it difficult to metagame -- Prince of Persia's built-in metastory comes to mind, as do the few times I've played 4x games multiplayer -- I've almost always enjoyed the game more.  But I can hardly stop myself from turning to the web when I hit the slightest roadblock, or from urging my friends to use voice comm in MMOs.

How do I just let the stories happen, and not worry about the man behind the curtain?

1 comment:

Tim said...

Well said!

I have always described this phenomenon in single player games as "obsessive optimization", and I have been guilty of it.

My solution: unplug cable modem, set an auto-save interval of something reasonable, and only load save on game-over scenarios. Living with the mistakes you make along the way does make it more enjoyable (and probably more re-playable as well).