Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can't... Resist...

I felt more resilient to a lot of the carroting mechanics in games in the last year -- that I can control my urge to get every letter, star, contract, and side-quest, and that my overall sense of happiness is improved by not stroking that OCD itch. Otherwise, it typically provokes a sense that I am "wasting time" playing the game. It's interesting, then, that I am struggling to control my desire to "100-percent" Little Big Planet 2, and how my sense of self-control melts away just thinking back on Arkham Asylum, the only game I've unlocked all achievements / trophies in. What is it about these games?

In the case of LBP2, the urge to collect everything is just as frustrating and time-wasting as any other game, but the reason I feel utterly compelled to catch them all is because the feature that really makes the game special -- editing your own content -- is technically incomplete until everything has been collected. Instead of stars or bananas, materials, songs, stickers, and costumes -- all important to editing -- are hidden, and the urge to collect becomes irresistible (and not necessarily amusingly so).

The case of Batman was a polar opposite because I was looking for any excuse I could think of to play the game longer. I really felt like I was gaining not just a mastery over my grasp of the world around me, but my expertise at combat in particular, going through several of its challenges. The more I played the better I got at getting through combat with high scores and enormous combo chains, and that was true from the beginning of the game all the way to the end -- an impressive feat for such a simple combat structure -- though I understand some friends didn't get the same enjoyment out of it.

Exceptions to the rule are interesting.

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