Picking at the bloated carcass of geek culture...occasionally!!!

Video Game “Groundhog Day”

In Video Games on January 7, 2010 at 2:21 am

I have started playing Dragon Age: Origins, an excellent video game RPG for my PC.  I got it back in November but never finished it.  I’d like to say it was  because of real life and the slow, methodical nature of the game.  Those are reasons for not finishing the game, no doubt, but I failed to mention the real reason.  I keep restarting the from the beginning instead of going to the end.  Does this seem odd to you?  Yeah, me too.  But it never fails with RPGS like this, that I will start, then restart, then maybe even restart again before I ever finish the game.  So, the question is why.

Well, it’s partially the nature of so many modern, western RPGs.  They often have really involved character generation systems.  A lot of about what your character’s future is determined in those first few choices.  The first time you play, you often don’t really understand what the game is all about.  That high strength score or the boosted willpower might have seemed like the right way to go, but the game may make those choices seem poor as you dig into it further.  Like in Fallout 3, you often will regret early decisions in the game as you get towards the end.  With your finite levels and skill points, it is possible to have a terribly ineffective character at the end when you really need one.  When I make early mistakes in games like this, I tend not to tough it out to the end.  I can’t help but think, “How much fun would I be having if I hadn’t screwed up my character from the beginning.”  So, it is at this point that I will find myself starting from the beginning, playing a similar character, only more intelligently created and put together.

Something I've started so many times but never finished. Like the Gravity's Rainbow of video games.

Another reason for my restardation is an enjoyment of all the different options these RPGs present.  If you play a fighter-type, for instance, you might start wondering “I wonder how this is different for a wizard or a rogue.  So, when the game starts getting hard, or stressful, or repetitive, I’ll find myself trying it from the beginning with other options, exploring the full variety that the game offers.  This compounded by the fact that Dragon Age: Origins has several completely different starting stories, depending on race and class.  The dwarven commoner has a completely different origin story than the human noble, so by picking one option, you miss out on a handful of different ones.  That kind of replayability keeps me from getting to the end.

So, when I do this, I experience a kind of Groundhog’s Day effect, where I see many parts of the story over and over while never really moving on.  While you would think this would bore me or drive me crazy, it rarely does.  In fact, for most of these games I restart, I do eventually finish them.  Even now, as I start playing this game again, instead of playing my high level magic-user, I find myself going back to a low-level warrior I abandoned in the starting area months ago.  I just want to do it all again, just do it right.  Does anyone else do this or am I the only crazy one.

  1. sheesh, I can’t really finish a game when I play it the first time. I have half finished games of Bioshock and Assassins creed that I told myself I would finish before I bought their sequels. For me every game is a contents between the repetition of game mechanics and the quality of the narrative. As soon as I start to feel like I’ve been doing the same thing before it becomes a chore to turn on the game. That’s why a game like Super Mario World held my attention far longer than either of those previously mentioned games. I can’t imagine doing what you’re doing. That sounds downright painful.

  2. That’s not true, Noah. Example A. You and me and Halo. Example B. You and me and Zach and Bushido blade. Example C. You and me and that Simpsons Crazy Taxi game. We repetitive played over and over and over again.

    Maybe an RPG is different though, I know can’t re-start mid-way through. I have to play it out, unless I really paint myself in the corner. Even then, though, if that happens, I may just quit.

    Side note: I finally got Left 4 Dead 2 and just started it to try it out… good stuff.

  3. Someone needs to make a new Bushido Blade for the 360

  4. […] playing and not finishing it, I went back and restarted it with a new character. This is something I tend to do when playing computer roleplaying games. It should be clear that the choice to waste moments of my […]

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