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?