This week's another one where I didn't beat a game. I've got Persona 5 Royal in the pipeline, hopefully for next week, but for this week let's talk about an aspect of gaming I generally stay away from: Completionism, or doing everything there is to do in a game
As a topic, this has been on my mind for some time, pretty much since I started using GG to catalog my gaming progress. You see, GG has multiple states you can catalog games as. Want to play, Playing, Shelved, Abandoned, Beaten, and the focus here, Completed, for games you've obtained all the collectibles in, or seen all the content, or completed with every character, or collected one million coins in. This is also the only status on GG I have no games listed as.
What's Your Deal?
You might ask, "Joe, why don't you 100% games? You play so many, you've spent so much money on each one, you might as well get your money's worth from them!" and while I see your point there Mr. Straw Man, it's just not really how my brain works. I've always been spoiled for choice when it comes to the next game I want to play, since I was a little kid. I used to barely ever beat my games, whether because I was too lazy to try to develop skill, too easily frustrated, or just lost interest quickly
Now, in my old age *cough* 22 *cough* I've gotten much better at finishing games. I want to see these games through to conclusion (assuming they're not just frustrating for me) and experience them as full works of art. But now, what with a full time job and a drive to experience more games than I ever did when I was young, I usually drop games immediately once I've finished the main story. I already wasn't one for grinding or doing every sidequest in a town, and now it's so bad I basically didn't do any side content in FFXV and finished the 50 hour game in 20 hours (thank god it wasn't hard at the end)
Possible Pasts and Futures
There are a few games I've come close to completing, games that were my favorites as a kid or just didn't have an absurd amount of content in them. I've played KOTOR enough times that if I knew what 100 percenting that game actually meant I'd probably have done it by now, and I've played through the main story of SWTOR with like 6 out of the 8 playable classes. In general though, no game's non-core content has grabbed me hard enough and for long enough for me to finish all of it. On top of that I never played any collectathon platformers as a kid, so the notion was introduced to me too late in my adolescence for it to become part of my gaming taste.
However, there's some games I've played recently that I feel like 100 percenting could really add to. For example, Anodyne has a WILD post-game power that lets you break the level boundaries to find all the side content, and I think it'd be cool to try sometime. I've got such a strong personal connection to KOTOR that I should probably figure out what completing it really means and do that sometime, to add some depth to my nostalgia for that game. When I replay Persona 1 I'll play the alternate route, the Snow Queen story, and I thiiiiink that'll count as 100 percenting that game? And I want to find all the extras in Shadow of Memories, which is a GREAT game I've already seen every ending in. On top of that there's games like Sonic Advance, a game I just played last week, that you need to beat with every character and get every chaos emerald to see the true final boss. I'll probably keep playing it casually until I get to that point, it was pretty fun and veryyy quick, which helps a lot.
Where Am I Heading?
The further I get into my post-high school media literacy/art appreciation obsession, the less sense completionism makes to me. Most games are intended to be played blind, with the expectation that players will not see 100% of the game. Things like that make the world of the game feel bigger that it really is, to the point where you feel like more hidden parts of the game are around every corner, even if you just happened to stumble upon 95% of that content. On top of that, part of it feels like it can destroy the sentimentality of beating a game. Undertale famously has multiple endings, and the game shames you HARD for choosing the genocide route through the game and trying to restart (at least, according to what I remember of a years-old hbomberguy video that I will NOT be rewatching because I wanna play Undertale soon) as a comment on exactly this kind of attitude with games. Anodyne and Anodyne 2 seem even more hostile about it, where the player isn't given any absolution upon getting everything in the game, only hollow achievement, or in the case of Anodyne 2, literally nothing. The game doesn't even tell you if you've gotten every coin. There's no cap to the counter, and people are discovering new coins to this day.
Then again, maybe if I'd had a different upbringing, my relationship to games, completionism, hell maybe even competition in general would be softer. There's obviously value in there for some people, like the speedrunning community, and I should try it out sometime to see if I feel any value for myself there. Maybe my opinions will change, if I'm still open minded enough. I can only hope so.
Anyways, I think the city pop I'm listening to while typing this is going to my head. Thanks for reading this tirade/rant/essay to the end. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week with Persona 5 Royal (probably). Have a good week, stay safe, and let me know if you've got any opinions on this down in the comment section!