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March 14, 2011 | by  | in Arts Games | [ssba]

Anomalous Materials: Why I Don’t Finish Videogames

Hello, Salient readers. I, Angus Winter, will be writing Anomalous Materials week on/week off, alongside the handsome and wise Donnie Cuzens.

As I mulled over ideas for my first piece, I felt that I wanted to start with something that really represents how I feel as an avid videogame consumer. Looking through my Steam library and collection of strewn-about cases for inspiration, the topic for this column slowly became apparent: I do not finish videogames.

My societal standing fits me snugly into the key demographic that almost any piece of electronic entertainment is reaching out to. I grew up alongside the medium, and have invested many, many hours exploring it. I’m in my early twenties, and I still manage to devote plenty of time to playing games despite balancing a job, my social life, and other interests. So why then, if I am the ideal, everyday ‘gamer’, do I repeatedly reach a point in my experience where I become uninspired to double click on a desktop icon, or put a disc into my PS3?

A myriad of reasons exist as to why players leave their games unfinished. Sometimes games are too impossibly hard, and you reach a sort of gaming roadblock that defeats your will to keep playing. Sometimes games are too open ended and/or long for their own good—the sprawling amount of content ahead seems arbitrary and insurmountable. Sometimes, unfortunately, games are just plain boring.

While these are all reasons to be put off finishing a game, I feel that something else is the main contributor to why I get this problem so often—what internet enthusiasts call ‘gamer vision’. This is essentially the perspective you gain after playing roughly two-thirds of a game. You are all too familiar with how it is played, and your drip feed of new game mechanics is slowing to a halt. From this point onward, you can also usually see how the rest of the narrative is going to play out—the universal third act. Once you unwittingly obtain gamer vision, you know exactly what your experience will be for those final hours you sink into the game. With a no-longer-compelling game mechanic, playing becomes less an exercise in appreciating art or entertainment and more a chore. Stay jaded.


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  1. Miller says:

    Ohh I see what you did there.

  2. Yuric Hunt says:

    I think there is another reason to “not finish” a game. If you do it’s over, if you just get near the end, even withyour “gamer vision” on, you may not want to bring an end to the character to the world. So periodically you return to roam in the world (like GTA, Red Dead or Infamous) refusing to do the last missions and end the fantasy.

    Yuric Hunt

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