I would say I have the sort of personality where order is key. I’m not too down with the chaos. I like spontaneity, I actually find that enriching, but the individual elements in all the different aspects of my life have to be in order. Arranged, filed and complete. The books on my shelves? The spines are all level with each other and with the edge of the shelf. Not because I like it that way, but because I feel it needs to be that way. Partly because it would look like a mess if it were to look any different, partly because I don’t think I’d sleep if it wasn’t. If I add a bunch of new records onto my iPod and, despite my best efforts, one of them appears without album art? Rage. Anger. Throw the iPod into the garden.
This obsession with structure and order can have positive and negative affect when it comes to games. Example? When a new game first loads up, I go in and out of every menu, seeing where things are. Creating a filing system in my head for the games options and systems. This particular act might sound a bit serial killer when written down and shared on the Internet, but it takes seconds and feels like all I’m doing is expanding my knowledge. Now I know where the gamma slider is. It’s all good.
But it can can occasionally be counter-productive. When I’m shooting badmen or digging down into the crust of the earth or guiding someone through a post-apocalyptic wasteland or flying a ship around the solar system I don’t neccesarly want order. I want a taste of that chaos. Another example? Hokay then.
Since the advent of Achievements and Trophies, the need within gaming to complete optional objectives and watch that overall progress bar inch it’s way towards 100% has taken hold to a detrimental degree. Almost all of the time, I don’t want to look at the Trophy list for a game, because I know what will happen. Once I see that I need to headshot 20 enemies with a particular rifle, I’ll adjust the way I’m playing solely to achieve that. I’m sure that’s the intention of the developers, but I don’t want to do that. Trouble is, now that I know that this check-list exists, I gotta tick it off. Despite not really, actually, truly wanting to. First world nightmare, right? You can also apply this to: a blank world map that progressively fills in upon exploration, Ubisoft upgrade trees and collectable counters found within the pause menu. Things need to be complete, filled in, ordered. And I can’t rest until they are.
So when I settled down to play Phil Fish’s charming, 2D/3D pixelated head-scratcher Fez and opened up the world map after an hour of enjoyable exploration and saw a bonkers, multi-layered, branching, sprawling set of hexagons signifying where I’d been, where I was yet to find, how many secrets I’d not found, how many areas weren’t truly compete…
I just thought “fuck it” and turned it off. I don’t need that stress.