The Collector’s Mentality

This particular post is something that I wrote…a long time ago, but never got around to publishing until today.  It involved a question that arose about my gaming habits while I was replaying Kirby 64 several years back, and I thought it was about time I finally got around to voicing this question out loud (or…the Internet equivalent of out loud).  The question: why do I feel the urge to collect every item I see, whether or not I need it?

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only gamer who does this, but this habit can be, in some circumstances, rather baffling.  To illustrate, Kirby 64 has these enemy cards that you can potentially collect at the end of every stage, provided your aim is good.  These cards show you the name and picture of an enemy that you can then view in Options.  These cards are entirely random, and once you’ve collected a decent amount, you’ll probably end up getting a lot of repeats.  Now, the thing is, these cards are completely pointless.  There is really no benefit to collecting them, and yet, many years ago, I recall becoming so obsessive that I would redo levels again and again just to collect the cards I didn’t already have.

And it’s not a compulsion that was isolated to Kirby 64.  No, in Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, I would hunt down every single gem in the game, even if the only time I actually needed them was once during the first world.  In any Zelda game I play, I continue to collect rupees even when I can’t hold anymore, and I grab every heart I see even if my health is full.  When I got 99 lives in Crash Bandicoot, I’d keep collecting fruit even when there was no longer any reason.

So why do I do this?  Well, I thought long and hard on it, and I came to the conclusion that…people like collecting things.  Yes, sometimes it seems like the simple joy of collecting is all the excuse people need to gather up items they don’t even need.  It’s why, in the real world, some of us collect teacups and others collect figurines that they will never take out of the box or Disney pins they will never wear (the latter two are me).  It’s why, if another category of items had been added to Banjo-Kazooie, I’d be willing to bet we’d collect every last one of that random and arbitrary doohickey without a second thought.

Now it’s your turn.  Who else has an unstoppable urge to collect every item they see?  Or are you the kind of person who tries to earn every trophy and achievement just for the sake of it (because I do that, too)?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

9 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    I can’t say I am one of those. I only tend to go for full completion in Mario and Zelda games, or if the game happens to appeal quite strongly to me for some reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. duckofindeed says:

      I tend to especially try to get 100% in platformers for some reason, though I like to try to get 100% in most games where completing it seems doable. I wanted to get 100% in Ocarina of Time years ago, but I found that the optional rumble pack was required to find all the Gold Skulltulas….

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  2. eduv77 says:

    I noticed this as a kid playing the original Donkey Kong Country, where I’d try to collect every single banana on sight. Even after using the BARRAL code! I think it’s just that people are gatherers by nature, and leaving something behind generates the fear of potentially missing out on something down the line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. duckofindeed says:

      I totally agree. It just comes naturally to collect something when you see it…it takes mental effort to come across an item and just…leave it there. I’ve been playing Super Mario Odyssey lately, and I went against my usual nature and haven’t been collecting every coin I see. Now there are super expensive items in the shop, and I can’t buy them! I guess I learned my lesson and will return to being my usual obsessive collecting self now.

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  3. fminuzzi says:

    Yeah, I do the same! I think it’s especially true for me if you have a collection you can look at later – hearts and coins I might not feel as compelled to get. But whether it’s getting all the pins in TWEWY, the cards in Theatrhythm or catching all the Pokemon, it takes a lot for me to put it down before my collection is complete. (Unless getting collectibles involves mini-games… those I have less patience for!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. duckofindeed says:

      Yeah, it definitely helps for me, too, if you can actually view your collection later. Eventually, when I have plenty of money in Zelda, I don’t bother collecting any more rupees and usually avoid fighting enemies that aren’t directly in my way. But in Kirby 64, I spent so much time collecting those silly enemy cards just for the enjoyment of looking at them later. I also got all the cards in this Harry Potter game on the GameCube. That was probably my favorite part of the game just because I like collecting things.

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      1. fminuzzi says:

        Kirby 64 was one of those games I replayed over and over – getting through the element combination doors also felt like collecting, cause you had to bring powers from other levels. I remember the jumping mini-game at the end-of-level picnic, so maybe I collected the cards too =P
        Oooh, which Harry Potter game was that? I only really played the third on GBA (because it was an RPG), but I collected all the chocolate frog cards in that one too, which if I remember correctly took at least two playthroughs (?)

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        1. duckofindeed says:

          It was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the GameCube. It wasn’t great, but I played it every once in a while as a kid. Eventually, to make things interesting, I decided to collect all the cards, something I had never done before, and it was actually pretty fun.

          Oh yeah, it was fun trying to figure out how to reach certain shards in Kirby 64. Sometimes I had to try quite a few different combos until I got one that opened the way.

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