Recently I have been reading a book titled The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It is an interesting read going in depth on why we do what we do and how we get into routines. Reading about two hundred pages in so far it got me to thinking about all the different habits in gaming I have developed over the years.
You may think, “Gaming habits, I don’t have any?” When was the last time you looked behind you before advancing when starting a level? When was the last time you grinded before a boss to make sure you got them all the way in case it was a tiered fight? Have you ever kept an enemy alive on a game to gain additional experience on them, or train a move for a character? Ever say just one more game since the experience bar was close? How about making sure for the millionth time that you cleared ALL of the map before advancing.
Every single one of these is a habit that you picked up in some game along the way. Maybe one time you looked behind you before moving ahead in a game and there was a chest to help you start out on your journey. I know I personally look at all the achievements on a game before starting so I don’t miss a simple one that may be at the very start of the game. It leaves a feeling of unease for me when I know I could have gotten it so easy. Sometimes having to restart a whole game to feel like I am actually enjoying it. A habit I picked up from replaying too many games early on in the 360 counsel life.
Or maybe, the habit was picked up earlier when I learned there were hidden items and bosses you could get in the Final Fantasy series. I was floored when I learned there was a character named Vincent Valentine in Final Fantasy seven from a friend back in middle school. I had beaten the game maybe a month prior and he asked which main characters I had used to get through, he mentioned his favorite had been Valentine. I had beaten a whole game without a character that you could easily unlock.
https://www.madewithmischief.com/artwork/13/Vincent-Valentine Amazing art done by szynka2496 here of that exact character.
It started a trend for myself that I didn’t want to miss a single thing in a game if I could. Sometimes making me be almost obsessive over not missing a thing when I got into High School and playing through longer games. Chapter select and check marks in games that tell you how much of something you have gotten are lifesavers in time and things I am always grateful to see in a title.
I remember another time going through all of the flags in Assassin’s Creed with Altair to find I was missing a single one. I spent hours and hours trying to find it and in the end just restarted the game to use a checkmark system off of an additional website. Just because I grew a habit that a game is only complete when the achievements say 1000/1000. Don’t even get me started on the titles that through in an oddball two-point achievement, looking at your Super Puzzle Fighter Z.
Regardless of what little random quirks and things you have developed over the years these are your habits. I feel more comfortable flying a plane in a shooter with inverted controls, but never when moving the character. A great friend is an exact opposite, we hated trading off games in Halo 2 for that reason. Another great friend has to collect everything in a game. It seems he likes having the resources to make what he wants to make, that makes him do this. He is more apt to play a survival game that he can build and grow on than a quick shooter that you lose your loot upon death. The habits of all these things in gaming also predict which games we inevitably enjoy playing through. Myself having trouble with games I simply can’t beat because there is no end goal.
Some people don’t like games where you lose or die often. Dark Souls and Bloodborne growing a cult following over the intensity of the titles that were so unforgiven. I don’t meet casual fans of this series. I find people all the time who hate the titles because the grind is so stupid to them, others who know all the lore and own every comic that has came out and where to “good loot” is. When you start out on “soft” titles like Mario as opposed to Hosts and Goblins you will naturally waver to what you find most comfortable.
So what brings you back to a game over and over again? What is the habit loop in titles that brings you back the second, fifth, or thousand times to play a match again? What makes you think you have to do your daily or weekly challenges to jump on and knock them out really quick?
This is going to be my first attempt at a two-part article. The first coming to you today and the second half finishing up on Monday, with another article coming out Sunday that I’ve already written for Sit Down Sunday. I wanted you to know first and foremost what you were getting yourself into with this little piece of work that I wanted to talk about.
All of that is something I want to touch on come Monday. The loops in games that bring us back time and time again. Until then, drop a like and comment on what type of game habit you realize you have about yourself. I love hearing about all of them and they inspire me to work on my next piece. Remember you can follow me on this site as well or sign up for email notifications.
I appreciate all you awesome people, see you tomorrow.