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A Gaming Guinea Pig

I have overcome my gaming demons. I have bested my problematic past. I have improved myself and can now legitimately call myself a better gamer.

This is no boast of skill. I’m not gloating about some great conquest or magnificent feat.

I am simply expressing pride in overcoming a personal flaw that has been bugging me for ages. It may not seem like much to most, but as important as my games are to me, I consider it a great accomplishment.

I have what you might call a bit of a checkered past when it comes to finishing games. Now, I know it’s far from unusual for your average gamer to fail to complete a title here and there. That is, in fact, perfectly normal. But when the problem is as consistent and ever-present as mine was, it can quickly lead to frustration.

Never have I had a total inability to finish what I start. This is not a problem analogous to a life-threatening disease. It is, perhaps, a bad rash or an itchy sore of some sort. But, much like an unidentifiable itchy red splotch, this problem came back to haunt me at intervals both inconvenient and unpredictable. I could finish a certain title without problem and then pile up five games that I’d never see the end of and a couple that it would take me a year or so to get back to.

This last bit, more than anything else, is most maddening. Once a game has been started, it begs for completion, lest you run into the issue I have time and time again. I would drift off in the middle of some poor, undeserving game only to find my temptation to beat it resurface some many months later. This sounds fine, if erratic, save that time is a harsh mistress. So many months having passed since I last played these unfortunate titles, most of my memories of them were faded and rusty. I was leery of jumping back into the middle of titles I could scarcely remember, yet I lacked the motivation to start them over from the beginning, partially out of fear that I’d start the cycle all over again.

So on the shelf they would sit, waiting impatiently for a time when I could get my act together and give them the time they truly deserved.

That time has finally come.

After much soul-searching, I have finally discovered what in my nature compels me to act this way. Like many problems, the answer was stunningly obvious and lay right under my nose. The root of my problem is the very reason I love to play games in the first place.

Gaming is an escape for me. It provides doors to new worlds, new experiences, and new characters. The key word here is new. I enjoy the fresh, the exciting, and the unseen. There is nothing wrong with this of course and I make no apologies for it, but once that luster of newness has worn off, my motivation becomes sporadic and hard to predict because my key driving force has disappeared.

I have discovered through these years of trial and error that I have a small window in which to be infatuated with any given title. If, during this window, I can remain free of distractions and dedicate myself to a particular game, I can slowly and wonderfully explore its every inch, see it properly through to the end, and perhaps continue on even after that, far more than could be hoped for any title before my recent revelations.

In short, by clearing my daunting backlog and focusing myself on one game at a time while its short window lasts, I can get more out of my games than I ever have before. It may sound trivial to some, but it is fantastic to me.

Beating a game while still in this honeymoon period is indescribably more satisfying that forcing myself back to it at a later date. Never before have I been actually within reach of experiencing multiple playthroughs of games or unlocking the tantalizing extra content that I was never able to muster up motivation for.

My world prior to these recent discoveries was completely backward. I was almost afraid of playing games too quickly for fear of actually, horror of horrors, beating them. After all, if I strung them out and played them carefully wouldn’t they last longer? Wasn’t it a better value if I beat it in a couple of months rather than a week or two?

No, as it turns out. I will readily admit there was an adjustment period. After finally picking up the original Mass Effect and completing it after it had been sitting on my shelf for a few years, playing the entirety of Bayonetta within a few days was slightly disconcerting.

Then I looked at the number of hours I had spent with both games. I had clocked more hours with Bayonetta.

Go figure.

And that was the proof I needed. I looked at that time played counter in Bayonetta with pride. It represented real change for me. I got more value out of that game during my couple of weeks with it than I have out of some games which have sat on my shelf for years. And this change is all thanks to learning to work with my natural tendencies rather than against them.

Here’s to a new era. One with far more credits sequences.

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