The Secret To Great Video Games: Collecting Shit
Hands up who likes getting loot in video games – is the census the majority? Are those people mainly RPG fans? Great! Ok next question, hands up those of you who like COD? What’s that – loads of people who didn’t put their hands up for the first question now have their hands up? I thought so. Well my friends I’m here to tell you that despite this huge catacomb of apparent distance between these two sets of gamers there isn’t really that much of a difference between us, because at the end of it all we all like the same thing – collecting shit.
Be it racking up kills to unlock weapons and streaks, to obsessively making three trips to the same dungeon making sure you’ve gathered up every single last tiny item of value, we are all the same. Granted we may go about ‘collecting’ things in different ways and sometimes we may not all get along with each other’s genre but in essence we are all as guilty of hoarding as the next man, especially when you bring achievement points/trophies into the equation.
I find the craziest thing about ‘collecting’ is that half the time I’m not sure we even realise we’re doing it, let alone understand that it is one of the main reasons we keep playing games long after we should have stopped.
When you think about it most items within a game don’t really cause much affect to your character or the world around you, but we still go out of our way to pick them up anyway. Sure you might get the odd ‘Bastard sword of sexual fiery pain’ with a +5 arrow to the knee and a -2 shut the fuck up internet, but most of the time we are either collecting pointless bomb ingredients ala Assassins Creed, ploughing real money into micro transactions on Facebook games to get the latest Sims furniture, picking up bread and other non-consequential life restoring goods via Skyrim/Fallout or at the very least mountains upon mountains of ammo for that piece of shit pistol you never use that is portrayed in virtually every FPS out on the market.
To truly understand why humans love to collect so much is just incomprehensible to me, although it most likely comes down to two of our most base human instincts: 1) to be better than someone else and 2) physically being able to prove it. It is a bit of a gold mine which video game developers have stumbled into throughout the course of conception, and it has since been exploited in the most forward fronting ways imaginable, yet still blindly missed by the mainstream/everyone as a negative bi-product.
When you think of the group discussions surrounding the invention of achievement points you can’t possibly think it went along the lines of “Hay guys, let’s think of a great way for people to keep playing games after completion?” Sure that fundamental reasoning is a knight in shining armour, but think of all the negative side effects it does to some people to having a visual scoreboard that measures you against your friends on a game by game basis?
Can you honestly say that you haven’t played something and destroyed the original pacing of the game because you were too busy going off the rails just to find some poxy book page just to find a few achievement points?
So what are we supposed to do? Ban anything that isn’t nailed to the floor? No, that’s stupid because I’m not going to hammer seven inch nails through my cat to prevent my girlfriend from taking it to Minecraft with the promise of fish. I think the truth is there is no getting around it; we love to collect shit in real life so why not portray that in video games? It’s our fault for putting such weight on the extremely natural human character trait, and although sometimes I may wish that developers portrayed the act in a less exploitive manner, at the end of the day it’s our problem for falling for it, not the greedy money-bags mind-fucking with us. I just wish more people knew how to walk the tight rope of consumerism than others.