I’ll be honest, Open World Video Games are my crack.
Just completing my 87+ hour run of Mass Effect: Andromeda, maxing out at 99% (due to broken quests), I feel a sense of both pride and shame admitting to others just how much of my time I invested in this game. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mass Effect series, always have, no matter the ridiculous color endings of the 3rd installment or the horrifically buggy recent entry to the franchise. My issue is mainly with the Open World/Sandbox genre of games and how it sucks me in and never lets me go till I have scoured each sand grain on each planet.
I have a sense of duty to complete games like these because, at heart, I am a completionist when my time allows it. My PSN trophy wall with just two maybe three Platinum trophies listed there may say otherwise, but I know the nagging pull of completion the second I see percentage on game saves. It wasn’t always this way, in fact my foremost gaming years were spent just blazing through to the end, either missing the games hidden epic weapons or just getting stuck in one spot and never playing the game again all because I couldn’t spare the energy grinding or searching other areas. This addiction has developed over the years and games like Mass Effect has certainly been the root cause of it all. The idea of good/evil responses, the risk of losing squad mates to perma death if under questing, and so on enticed me as I grew older and somewhat wiser.
The number of games I’ve spent months, yes months, playing and replaying rank fairly high. I’m sure someone out there has me beat but I can say for certain that my list is too high for my own good. Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Mass Effect 1-3 & Andromeda, Borederlands, and the Infamous series all find a place in my Hall of Fame/Shame. I don’t begin to understand what it is that has me so drawn in to games like these, or why the addiction didn’t manifest earlier so I could have more thoroughly enjoyed the Final Fantasy series. I wished I had some clue as to if this was a overtly bad thing or, if in some small way, this said something about commitment or dedication.
I feel that it has allowed me to focus on things with some sense of clarity, since I see the large scope of the in game worlds as living environments that need to be over analyzed to find true meaning. It has also made me more vulnerable. Upon finishing my run of ME A, I found myself being touched by the epilogue, all the thank yous, the rewards for me getting as close to 100% as you can maybe it feel worth it. However it also made me feel empty once I realized “I’m done, that’s it”. All decisions were made, all quests complete”. I thought to myself what some people look at with book or movie series ending; “What Now?”. That feeling of being hollow made me worried that my addiction would lead me into jumping into another open world game, like Horizon Zero Dawn sitting on my shelf. Just jumping from fix to fix, hoping I’ll have something to keep me going till I unfortunately run out of new games.
Can’t say for certain writing this gave me any clarity to my situation, but it felt nice to get it in writing. Who knows, maybe someone out there feels the same way I do, and can shed some light on things.