Sometimes when you’re sitting there just playing games, inspiration strikes. There I was, playing Mario Kart, and I realized I always, always do a little hop whenever I grab an item, hit a jump, or — strangest of all — cross the finish line. So what other curious behavior have I acquired through gaming?
The year is 19XX. You’re fighting for ever-lasting peace, when you come across an enemy who is stronger than your standard attack. If only there was some way to charge your weapon for a more powerful shot. Mega Man’s chargeable buster completely changed the core gameplay — no longer were you shooting dinky pellets. Because of this change, I always felt I needed to have that charge shot ready to go, so I was always holding the button. The sound of charging may as well have been part of the music.
While Mega Man introduced me to this mechanic, I was stuck in the same habit for any other game with charging weapons. Halo, Perfect Dark, I’m looking at you here.
Talking To Everyone
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment that gave me this particular habit, but I know it happened when I was young lad playing some a classic RPG. Pokemon, maybe? Whatever it was, it made me seek out every NPC I could find and talk to them — even if they had absolutely nothing helpful to say. Maybe it’s because it adds a bit of world immersion, but I’ll do it every time.
Even worse, I’ll talk to NPCs more than once if I feel their dialogue will change. Sometimes it does, but most of the time I’m wasting my effort. Shout out to the flavor text writers who create the witty banter that most people just mash the A button to get through.
To be fair, this is what great works of entertainment strive for, isn’t it? If a game hits me in just the right way, I will fall victim to its trappings. In open-world games, I’ll just walk around and drive a car/ride a horse just to see the world in between missions. What happens when I’m just wandering around observing? Do NPCs make comments about what I’m wearing? Do they carry on conversations with each other? Do random events occur?
All of this fascinates me, and sometimes I’ll even go back to a game I’ve finished and just live in the world for a bit, just to see things I may have missed while chugging through the story. It helps me appreciate games and game creation that much more.
Breaking The Game
This is almost the opposite of my last point, but it is no less of a habit in the same open-world games. Sometimes it’s due to frustration after failing a mission, sometimes it’s simple curiosity, but either way, it leads to entertainment. In Grand Theft Auto IV, I was fascinated by the ragdoll physics of NPCs. Sure, you could slam into them with a car a bajillion times, but I had an even better idea: bumping into them on staircases, watching with glee as they tumbled down, smacking their heads in all kinds of ways.
Sometimes they would get up, sometimes they wouldn’t, and sometimes a particular fall would kill them instantly. And because you weren’t technically hitting these people, cops wouldn’t be alerted — I even did it to the fuzz a few times. This provided endless hours of entertainment for me, and in many ways helped prolong the game’s longevity.
From Animal Crossing fashions to Skyrim’s random bric-á-brac, this is defintely one of my worst habits. “What if I need that X-Potion later? What if this game has a crafting system later on? I better hold on to this starter weapon that is worth zero in-game currency just in case.”
It doesn’t matter if I have an inventory limit or not, I will hold on to everything I can because I’m afraid I might need it later. As someone rooted in the retro era, it’s a hard habit for me to break.
Perfecting my Plays
This is only me like 50% of the time: I’ll try over and over, or I won’t care enough to even try once. This could mean getting all the 3-star rankings on the Mario Kart 7 courses. It could mean collecting all 100 feathers in some Assassin’s Creed game, or collecting all 700+ Pokemon.
The worst part is that, while some of these are meant to add re-playability, you can’t help but feel gypped when you get all 100 trophies/achievements/feats and receive nothing tangible for your trouble. And seeing a percentage rate or greyed-out achievement list can torture some gamers.
Using The Internet
This is a huge pet peeve of mine, because I feel that solving puzzles yourself is part of the fun. Modern games have somewhat alleviated this with mini-map GPS’s and objectives that just show you where to go, but what if you really are stuck? Well, my gamer friends, we turn to the internet in such times of confusion. The thing is, we shouldn’t. We risk spoilers, and we tend to beat ourselves up for having thrown in the towel so easily.
I remember a time when my mom and I got stuck on a particular puzzle in the NES’ Kickle Cubicle. After multiple hours, we caved, and she even decided to call the Nintendo Help Line for the solution. But why couldn’t we just take a break and come back later? Why did we have to spoil the discovery for ourselves? Why is everything a dash to the end? Speaking of which…
I don’t mean power-leveling; I mean trying to plow through the game as fast as you can. This can happen for two major reasons. First, it’s a way to test the skills you’ve acquired throughout the game, like holding down the run button through a Mario title. It’s not always a race to the finish, but as you grow more confident, the habit forms, causing you to miss alternate paths and other secrets.
The other, more prominent reason is the sheer number of games available. I have a hefty
backlog to clear out myself, and while I can take my time to do so (hello, unemployment), I shouldn’t play a game until I’m sick of it, grinding through just so I can say I beat it.
My last and quite possibly biggest gaming habit is making too many purchases. While I don’t normally pick up full-priced games on release day, I have the-just-as-bad habit of buying games simply because they’re on sale. My excuse is that A.) I didn’t pay full price and B.) I can play it later. This has resulted in owning many games still in the plastic wrap or, worse, digitally re-buying the same game on a different platform simply because it was on sale.
Yes, I have a bigger library to play, but I just ended up spending more money over a longer period of time rather than a large amount at once. That’s my bad.
Well, internet, that’s enough of my soapbox for now. Tell me your habits in the comments, and let me know how I can fix mine!
Article by contributor Shane Peltzer.