I am an obsessive/compulsive gamer.
I’ve always loved the out-of-body experience that gaming has provided, even in the days of primitive beeps and blips. From the time I first spied an early black-and-white Sprint clone in the local fish and chip shop, scoring my C64, acting all grown-up when I hit University and “forgetting” games, unintentionally being thrust back into the world of gaming by winning an Xbox, catching up on what I’d missed… all along the journey, I’ve loved the worlds and characters that can only be experienced through the wonder of (once-)chunkified images and (once-)simplistic audio environments. And, now that technology seems to be able to supplement imagination rather than restrict it, the new worlds that are being presented allow immersion to be ever deeper.
However, I have a problem with gaming: it turns me into an obsessive/compulsive. And, to avoid offending anyone, let’s be quite clear what I mean here: the Wikipedia entry for Obsessive-Compulsive disorder states that the phrase obsessive/compulsive “is often used in an offhand manner to describe someone who is meticulous or absorbed in a cause” – and that’s the intent I’m trying to provide: that, for one reason or another, my approach to gaming is meticulous, sometimes at the expense of all else. I’m not trying to suggest that I suffer from OCD – at the very least, my missus would kick my arse for suggesting so.
Part of my problem is that I get emotionally engaged by my avatar; I treat their life as my own (with the notable exception that I’d never pop myself into the situation where I have ridiculous numbers of creatures, robots, or the undead to slay before continuing my quest). In Quake I tip-toed around corridors, afraid to let my health drop below a safe “100”, shitting bricks at the mutterings of unseen knights around the corner. Zelda had me overly cautious in the same way; who would allow poor little Link to be harmed in any way, shape, or form? Halo had me panicking as – not with – the Master Chief; I literally cried tears of relief when I finished Legendary.
The other part of the problem, I believe, is the utter rush that I get from completion – from seeing all that has been presented unto me. And this is a big issue: simply finishing a game isn’t enough, it has to be finished on the hardest difficulty, all the unlockables have to be unlocked, all the bonuses have to be realised. I blame Halo for solidifying this – that extra couple of seconds of footage in the final movie sequence drove me on to finish Legendary and, in doing so, taught me how to play the game, rather than just plod through it, seeing the sights. Glean every morsel of gaming goodness from the article on offer. Experience the game, rather than co-exist.
So the idea of “completing” a game – 100-percenting, mastering, whatever you want to call it – became a very real, very central goal for me. And I started playing through my back catalogue of acquired games, aiming to complete them. I got off to a quick start with a couple of games that I know well.
But therein lies the problem. In striving for the rush of completion, I now find that I can often miss the joy of the journey. I remember precious little of Ocarina of Time, sadly, because I barrelled through both Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker, one after the other, in about ten days straight. I remember the beginning of Ocarina, and that’s it. I popped on the demo of Wind Waker the other day for a look, and could not remember the dungeon that was proffered unto me. And so I thought I’d start writing a bit about what I was playing in my O/C way, as a record of what I’d done (in the same manner as my other blog, chronicling the silly number of Adelaide Fringe & Festival shows I’ve seen).
So – what can you expect from this essentially meaningless blog? One average gamer’s musings on gaming in general, and on his journey through the gaming world. The impending car-crash of the O/C’s realisation that his obsession cannot be satisfied, limited by his own failings. Pithy reviews and ever-so-occasional useful snippets. Attempts to leech off a potential readership of three through affiliate promotions and a tips jar. But, most of all, an honest look at an afflicted mind that just happens to dig gaming. A lot.
What you won’t find – at least, not intentionally – is well written and well reasoned commentary. I fully expect to be self-contradictory, self-important, self-involved, and full of shit. This isn’t supposed to be a one-stop gaming info site, and I really recommend that you go elsewhere for your up-to-date news. I’ve still got 70-odd games – most of them 3+ years old – to ruminate on, so there’ll be no breaking reviews of Halo 3, no walkthroughs of the hottest new games. But hopefully someone somewhere will be able to identify somewhat with something that I type.
I am an obsessive/compulsive gamer.
But, most significantly, I am a gamer.