Mondays are usually slow for news as people start to stir for the coming week. Therefore, every Monday, we will address one topic to start the week and get discussion flowing. It stimulates the week like a cup of coffee, hence the title.
Achievements. Story. Social interaction. Competition. Each of these has been expanded upon in a past article on the site, but they highlight the different reasons people may dedicate large portions of their time to video games. No matter what kind of game we play, we always have an idea of what we’re aiming for. Some gamers prioritize one of the aforementioned categories over the others all the time, while others, like many of us at Gaming Bus, strive for different goals depending on what they’re playing. Regardless, everyone is trying to accomplish some kind of goal when they begin to play a game.
That brings us to this week’s question:
When you play games, what’s your priority? Achievements, quests/story, social support, or competition?
Mohamed Al Saadoon: That’s a difficult question because it really comes down to the type of game I’m playing. Does the game lend itself to competition, or is it more laid back?
Let’s get achievements out of the way first. Simply put, I never play games for achievements. This is not a criticism of achievements per sé as I love to get the odd one every now and then, but I never prioritize them over anything else.
Then we have the three remaining categories: Quests/story, social, and competition.
Quests/stories only apply to games that have good quests and stories. Usually this falls to most RPG games, which is a genre I love but it’s not necessarily exclusive to that. When people talk about StarCraft II, they usually talk about the awesome competitive multiplayer. I love RTS games but I suck at them, so I play them for the Story. Games like World in Conflict, StarCraft, Company of Heroes, and Homeworld have some of the best stories and voice acting in any game of any genre.
Social support is something that’s very recent to me. I rarely played multiplayer games in the past, but now there’s a greater proliferation of online multiplayer in games, including multiplayer-only games like Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends. For some reason, I have amassed more online friends than real-life friends (like I said in previous Monday ‘Joes, I might as well be a hermit), so I’m starting to really appreciate playing games for the company rather than just dominating my opponents.
Speaking of dominating, let’s talk about gaming as competition. I think everyone who grew up in the 1990s has played at least a little Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or various sports games, so I love a little competition (I will school you all in Pro Evo Soccer). However, I hold one thing paramount above all others when deciding a game is primarily competitive: if it lends itself to competition. For example, many people play TF2 and Super Smash Bros. as very competitive games, and that just makes me confused. Counter Strike and Street Fighter? Those are competitive games, but Super Smash Bros.? Team Fortress? What? Those are supposed to be fun, laid-back games.
“But what about RTS games, you hypocrite!” you cry. “Those are competitive; you don’t play them for story or some shit!” Like I said, though, that’s because I suck at RTS games and gave up on playing them competitively.
Nathan Wood: First and foremost, I look for something to play that’s enjoyable. If I’m not having fun playing a video game, I’m not going to force myself to sit down and play it because I have nothing else to do. I mean, that would be a little strange, wouldn’t it? Outside of that, I’m very much a story-focused person. I was interested in movies and books far before I truly fell for video games, and the steps storytelling have taken in video games has given me reasons to smile in the last few years.
It’s what captivates me and keeps me going. I generally burn through a game quickly, and if the story is memorable, I often jump straight back into it by starting a new game and going through it at a much slower rate. The most recent example of this is Sleeping Dogs, a game where I finished the main storyline and a healthy amount of side content within four days of purchase. As soon as those credits rolled, I launched a new game and started again.
Outside of story, these days it would definitely be the social side of it. It was only recently that I found many of my friends shared the same interest I had in a number of games, most notably Team Fortress 2, and it’s really taken off and provided another way for us to keep in touch and fool around when the weather simply wants us to stay indoors on a weekend. Competition has never meant to much to me because I play games primarily to have fun, although finally becoming somewhat decent at Battlefield 3 was a rewarding experience.
I like the idea of achievements and trophies, and I can understand anyone who decides to actively strives for them. I’m all for anything to get more out your purchase, but I personally couldn’t care less about getting an elusive trophy. That’s mostly because it means I have to change up the way I play a game, and this generally affects the amount of enjoyment I’m getting out of it.
Connor Horn: My approach to each game is very individual. When I try something like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, I’m obviously in it for the competitive aspect. Games that bill themselves as competitive titles are built around the sports paradigm: here is something that takes skill; now have more skill than your opponents. It’s exhilarating to get four kills in a round of Counter-Strike because it plays off the notion that you accomplished something difficult: you outplayed four other people at the game. In that small, temporary microcosm, you are the best. That’s a good headrush.
For games like Skyrim, I’m in it entirely for the immersion and story. To be honest, my least favorite part of a Skyrim quest is doing the obligatory dungeon crawl. I love interacting with the characters, talking with them, and participating in cool, sweeping events; I do the dungeon crawl purely to earn the right to see the next section of the quest line. Ironically, I will still insist that Morrowind is by and far the greatest Elder Scrolls game despite the increased emphasis on getting your hands dirty. I believe that has something to do with my being a nostalgic hypocrite.
For MOBA games, it’s a mix of the social and competitive. On one hand, during about 80% of the League of Legends matches I play, I’m on Skype with some friends, just hanging out and bemoaning about how frustrating Maokai is. However, when it comes to Ranked matches, it’s a serious game much akin to Counter-Strike. I’m in it for the ELO, so to speak.
I could go on and on and bore you to death, but the point I’m trying to make should be clear. My approach to every game really just depends on what that game is and what it’s selling me on. I don’t buy Minecraft for the same reason I buy Red Orchestra, and that fact is reflected in how I play those games.
Aileen Coe: It sort of depends on the type of game. A lot of what I play are RPGs, so story and quests tend to be my main focus there. I usually try to see as much of those as possible because I like seeing how much character and world development was put in. I don’t really chase trophies/achievements because I tend to go from game to game, though sometimes I do try to get some if the requirements are feasible and I’m in the mood to work for them. I focus more on trying to beat a game than trying to gain that 100% completion so I can keep trying to chip away at my massive backlog.
I tend to play alone, so social support and competition don’t really enter the picture. I’m not hugely into competitve gaming in the first place as I play games mostly to unwind, and it’s not something that really appeals to me. I would be open to playing with friends or chatting with them as I play, but most of the time, our schedules don’t align well enough for us to do so.
Christopher Bowen: It really depends on the type of game. I’m definitely not an achievement whore who has to get a platinum trophy on every single game I play. I simply don’t have the time for that. Furthermore, some of the goals of those games are ridiculous. For example, Capcom wants me to beat Mega Man 9 without taking a hit for a bronze trophy. Seriously?
I break this down into two types of genres. In RPGs, it’s all about the story. If I’m going to be grinding through an RPG, I need something to play for. In a sports game, it’s about competition. I can’t play actual sports all the time, so instead, I get my fix through virtual games. I don’t play games for social support; if anything, I prefer to keep a tight circle, so that’s out. And again, achievement whoring is just for people who want to inflate their egos.