Gaming Idiosyncrasies

Image by Flickr user leff
Image by Flickr user leff

Gaming idiosyncrasies, quirks, preferences — most gamers posses them to varying degrees. From playing only during a particular time of day, to having a preferred TV setup (that must NEVER be altered), to eating certain snacks only with certain games, they are what make gamers true individuals. And maybe a little…neurotic. Oh, I’m not making fun; you tell me it isn’t the truth! Personally, I have a Pelican PS3 controller that I never let anyone borrow. (It’s mine and it fits my hands perfectly!) I always, nay, I am compelled to read game manuals before starting up a game. And I’m still working on my queasy fear of first-person-perspective games. As silly as these quirks might be, they aren’t nearly as problematic as the most prominent peculiarity with which I continue to struggle: starting a game series at some point other than the beginning.

I haven’t always been so conscious of this notion. Early on, since I wasn’t an arcade regular, I often missed out on the original versions of games. I started with later Castlevania games. I never played the original Street Fighter and yet adored Super Street Fighter II. I played Ms. Pac-Man well before Pac-Man. But all this gaming happened during a time when I had regular access to games at home, before I moved away from home for college.  When I moved away, none of the games came with me and so marked the beginning of a roughly decade-long gaming drought. I occasionally played here and there, but never at length.

Anyway, when I returned to games, it took awhile for them to again become a regular part of my routine. It was good that I met my husband around that time — he was a gamer through and through. If I hadn’t gotten regular access to games at that point, I might have never returned to them. (Perish the thought!) Also around this time, we got a Nintendo 64 — that magical console of dreams and promises.  And the game of the moment was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Seriously, how could I NOT want to play this game?!  BUT. I wasn’t a gamer. And I had never played a Zelda game. (Further damaging my pathetic credibility, I didn’t really even know much about the Zelda games before OoT.) How could I possibly enjoy a game that was part of a sacred canon that I didn’t really understand? The name “Link” meant nothing to me. I couldn’t, just couldn’t, start in the middle of something like that. I felt like I had to start at the beginning.

And so were planted the strange seeds of anxiety that accompanied many subsequent gaming decisions.  As I got more and more into gaming, I fretted about playing sequels without first playing the originals.  I eventually got over myself and played (and immensely enjoyed) Ocarina of Time, but it wasn’t an overnight choice. I got eagerly wrapped up in the likes of Arkham City, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2; but that enjoyment was preceded by guilt over not having played Arkham Asylum, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and Marvel vs. Capcom.  (And I still haven’t played any of those games.)

With the recent explosion of sequels to well-established IPs, and many good sequels at that, it’s been easier to overlook the first entry into a series. Portal 2 was enjoyable due to its connection to the first, but I don’t think I would have been disappointed with it if I had never played Portal. And some sequels aren’t terribly connected. I played both Little Big Planet 1 and 2, and LBP2 is a great standalone game. There’s nothing really to be missed by not playing LBP1. I’ve not played the Borderlands games, but I’ve heard that the second is better than the first. If I were to pick one up today, it’d probably be the second one…maybe. Maybe not.  See, I still can’t shake the guilt.

Do you care about playing games in a particular order? What are your own gaming idiosyncrasies?

16 Comments Add yours

  1. I completely agree. In my case it’s not necessarily guilt I feel but rather this weird paranoia that I’m missing some sort of important plot point that was only shared in the previous entry and I’ll never ever see unless I play it. This is why I usually HAVE to play the previous entries or, at the very least, look up a wiki to make sure I don’t “miss anything”. Otherwise… Paranoia sets in X_X

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    1. cary says:

      Oh yes, wikis are fantastic sources for gaming knowledge. As I mentioned in my comment to the duckofindeed, I tend towards YouTube videos these days, but they’re fraught with spoilers, so I only view them if I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to play a early title in a series.

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  2. duckofindeed says:

    I have a similar issue to what DreamCasters said. I always seem to start a series late, so I often play games out of order, and once I get into the series, I wonder, what am I missing? Will my enjoyment of the series be entirely different if I don’t play the original game? It also has been bothering me quite a bit lately that I skipped some “Ratchet and Clank” games. They’re too short to justify spending money on, but at the same time, I wonder if I’m missing something important, so I must, at the very least, watch all the cut scenes on Youtube to make sure I didn’t miss something. It’s still very distressing, though.

    As for other idiosyncrasies, snacks and beverages must never be enjoyed during gaming, except water during handhelds and goldfish crackers during SNES (and please refrain from placing beverages on my gaming table or my TV stand). And no one must touch anything except their specified controller. (I have a strict hand washing procedure for disk-based games, plus I just don’t want anyone poking around my consoles.) And when it comes to playing the SNES, no one can touch my good SNES controller, as the other one has sticky buttons and a crack (I am not certain who the culprit was, but it wasn’t me, as my controller is pristine). And I have rules on how often I play a game because if I play too often, the game isn’t fun anymore. My gaming rules are absolute. And probably pretty obsessive-compulsive. And weird. But, there must be some order in the world!

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    1. cary says:

      Hey, we all need order in our lives to some degree! If your rules work for you, then they are what need to be followed. Personally, I don’t understand how people can eat and game – multitasking is never a good idea. Sometimes I like to have coffee when I’m playing, but I usually end up forgetting about it before it goes cold. Game first, eat later is a motto to live by!

      After I got played Uncharted 2, I watched a little bit of people playing Uncharted 1 on YouTube – not enough to spoil it, but just enough to understand how the stories meshed. It was a good tactic and one I continue to use today. However, I am a bit more focused on trying to play games in order if I can.

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  3. V says:

    I HAVE to play games in chronological order. It’s like a series of stories in books; why would you start halfway through the tale? You’d miss out on so much delicious detail and history!

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    1. cary says:

      Right! I liked OoT well enough, but I know that if I had had better context and knowledge of Link, Zelda, et al., the experience would probably have been much more meaningful.

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  4. Walters says:

    Unless it’s stated that I don’t have to pick up the prior games of the series, I have to play a game in its proper order. It makes that next game work wonderfully. The examples I would always give is Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GCN) and Radiant Dawn (Wii). You’re just not going to have as much of a connection if you skip PoR for RD.

    (Side note: you may want to re-read your first sentence Cary ^^)

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    1. cary says:

      D’oh! The joys of proofreading. :\

      Yeah, there are plenty of games that don’t make much sense if you play them out of sequence. The Metroid games come to mind. Even though they weren’t released in order, playing them according to the chronology helps in understanding Samus’s overall story.

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  5. Hatm0nster says:

    I have a couple idiosyncrasies as well, some I’ve outgrown, some persist, and some are recent developments.

    Notable Examples: I used to only ever play one game at a time. Meaning if I started Ocarina of Time, I would play nothing else but that game until it was completed. That one died during my first year in college. I now only play after 8pm at night unless the day has been set aside for gaming (another college development) and I’ve always had a tendency to start with the first sequel in a franchise, then playing the first before the third. It’s not intentional, but I can count several series I’ve gotten into over the years where it’s happened. Weird.

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    1. cary says:

      I used to only play one game at a time too! As a young person low on funds, I’d usually only be able to afford one game at a time, and then I’d trade it in for the next one. Once my brother and I started playing games together, I broke that habit. (Though it kind of briefly resurfaced around the time I started playing Mass Effect.) These days I can’t help but have too many games in the till — there’s just too much to play!

      That is an interesting approach to playing sequels. I tend to skip around sequels based on what looks interesting. After Assassin’s Creed 1, for example, none of the sequels really appealed to me until Assassin’s Creed 3, and I’m not much interested in Black Flag. Sometimes I think I might be missing something, but there’s plenty of information readily available to fill in any story gaps.

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  6. renxkyoko says:

    We have so many games at homes that I have not played because they are sequels of games that I have not played yet.

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    1. cary says:

      Games pile up quick, don’t they! It’s one of the “joys” of being a video game player. 🙂 (Ans I swear mine also multiply when I’m not looking…)

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      1. renxkyoko says:

        My brother’s Xmas gift to me was Resident Evil 6….. we have all the REs before 6, but have not played a single one…. tried though, but I was so bad at aiming and killing zombies that I just gave up. Anyway, when I got the 6th, I tried playing the 5th , first with my sister, who was a lousy partner, then I tried it with my mother ( believe it or not, she plays and she’s good at it ! ), but it seemed she was bad at aiming too, ha ha… so I dropped it….. the 6th is still unplayed. Last week, my brother gave me Skyrim. It looks like Oblivion…. but I find Oblivion a bit boring, for some reason. So, I don’t know. I’ll play during my holiday vacation.

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  7. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    Here’s apost that went up last week over on United We Game. Though we unite are united as gamers, each of us has own own set of gaming idiosyncrasies that set us apart from the crowd. In this article, I cover one my biggest quirks that I embrace yet, in some ways, still struggling to overcome: starting a game series anywhere other than the beginning.

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  8. boyscout299 says:

    When gaming, I must lean forward when I sit on my chair, couch, etc. I cannot lean back and “relax” as it completely breaks my concentration haha.

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    1. cary says:

      I can’t “lounge” while I’m playing either! If I get too comfortable, I’m likely to become lazy while playing.

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