Game surfing vs game diving

Yeah, I just made those terms up, sorta.

As regular readers know, I’m in a relationship with another gamer. We have similar tastes and similar behaviors in a lot of ways, which is (presumably) why we get along so well.

But though we’re both gamers, we’re very, very different kinds of gamers. I flit from game to game, dropping in, riding the rush of a new experience, having fun and then paddling back out to the gaming ocean to find another ride. (Yes, apparently I’m going to torture the titular analogy to death.)

She, on the other hand, dives deep into the nuances of a game that grabs her. She’s been playing EQ2 since launch. That’s over four years, for those not counting. She loves the game, knows it so well she’s like a walking EQ2 encyclopedia, and is loyal as hell to it. I’ve tried to tempt her into other MMOs time after time and I don’t think she’s ever lasted more than a month.

She’s the same way with single player games (which, honestly, she didn’t often play until recently). I got her Animal Crossing: City Folk for Christmas, and it took her a good two months to get around to trying it. Once she did, she was hooked. She logs in every single day. She has charts and printouts of all the fish, bugs, art and fossils you can find, and tics them off as she adds them to the Museum. She took in-game snapshots of the terrain, moved those over to her PC so she could exactly match the palettes, and developed patterns for the game that blend in seamlessly. She used these to create pathways through the world so that the grass doesn’t get trod down. She has the town’s individual acres marked out with other patterns so she can focus on getting a ‘perfect’ score for the town.

Describing it, she sounds incredibly anal, but all the while she’s doing this, she’s also chatting with the townsfolk and having a blast finding new things, always with a big smile on her face. The few times I’ve dipped into this kind of completionism, I’ve done it with a furrowed brow and I “gotta get this DONE” attitude. She just does it all casually.

It’s fascinating to me, watching her play a game. I envy her in some ways. I wish I could have that kind of focus. I’m a poster child for adult-ADHD (diagnosed and everything); unless I happen to get into a ‘hyperfocus’ frame of mind, I just can’t stick to one thing like she does. And that’s ok. It’s actually pretty fun to vicariously enjoy all the nuggets of coolness that she uncovers; there’s so much hidden stuff in really good games that I would *never* uncover.

On the other side of the coin, I think about how much she misses by playing so few games. She’s not really a ‘student’ of gaming in the same way I am; for her, they’re all about having fun. I have stacks and stacks of games laying around the house. Part of that is because when I’m really busy (this is a recent self-discovery) I start buying games as a broken way of trying to scratch the itch of wanting to play. But part of it is also me really, really wanting to experience all kinds of games. I’m fascinated by what each one brings to the table. I’m a sucker for bargain bins. Grabbing for $10 poorly-received games is totally worth it. Even if the game is wretchedly bad, I’m adding to my knowledge of gaming’s culture, history and technology.

If you’re waiting for me to make a point, I’m gonna disappoint you. I don’t really have one. I’ve just been finding it interesting to watch her play Animal Crossing, and while doing so I realized that she’d solved every Sudoku puzzle in her copy of Brain Age for the DS, and every puzzle in her copy of Mystery Case Files: Millionheir (the two other games, besides EQ2, that I’ve seen her play). That’s when it dawned on me that I was living with a completionist! It’s like lions and antelopes lying down together or something.

And speaking of lying down, here’s hoping you’re all having a pleasantly relaxing weekend. We sure are. Last of the chores (cleaning guinea pig houses, see below) are done, we’ve got no more committments. I’m going to be playing Rune Factory Frontiers on the Wii, and I just got an apparently bad 360 game for $10 (Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom) that I’ll be checking out. Assuming I can pull myself away from Aquia on the DSi!

Unrelated guinea pig picture: it’s so tiring having your house cleaned!

3 thoughts on “Game surfing vs game diving

  1. I understand this situation all too well, it closely mirrors my own – although I’ve been trying to branch out to more and more games, it’s a very slow process. I stick with what I like and what I know.

    Just picked myself up a DSi today, and I’ve got animal crossing for the wii as well as Rune Factory, and I’m just having fun and enjoying the ability to explore all of these great games and systems that I never really played on at all growing up since I (gasp) wasn’t much of a gamer.

    It’s wonderful when our partners game. 🙂 And essential, in a lot of cases.

  2. It’s true: I’m a completist, although oddly enough only in certain aspects of my life. When it comes to puzzles, whether it’s wordplay, find-this-list-of-stuff, visual games, or whatever, I HAVE to do them. I was that person who had to uncover every inch of every map in Baldur’s Gate because I couldn’t stand to leave any area unexplored — and I’m the same way in EQ2 now. Gotta find out what’s over there. Can I climb this pile of rocks? Is there any way to get from here to there? I wonder how many other people know about this place?

    I’m sure it’s an OCD thing, but it works out in the end, I suppose; I’m a stickler for detail, which pays off when it comes to my work.

    For folks who aren’t Peter:
    Mimi (pictured above) turns 2 years old this month, which is about the age Isis was when she started having ovarian cyst issues (and she’ll be 5 in December). Looks like Mimi may be going down the same road, poor thing. Anyway, Isis is a one-on-one kind of girl…she hates being out with Mimi and Mona (the baby, just 6 months old) and always begs us from the sidelines for us to rescue her from these little hellions.

    Now that Mimi is starting to slow down a bit, Mona is the bouncy little kid who drives everybody nuts — which is how Mimi acted toward Isis when she first came home, so I see some poetic justice there, LOL. Mona gets SO excited when we start talking about Mimi, since she loves to come out and play with her (read: bug the crap out of her) on the couch, where we have some towels and beds set up for them to run around on and play with.

    We’ve noticed that Mimi gets tired a lot sooner than she used to now, but sometimes Mona just won’t take the hint and leave her alone. So Mimi gets rescued and goes back to her house, and suddenly Mona is THRILLED to have the WHOLE COUCH ALL TO HERSELF, OMG!! So she runs around like a maniac, “boop”ing and squeaking and having herself a good old time — for about 2 minutes. Then she realizes there’s no one there to play with, so she flops down and waits to go back to her house too. Heavens forbid we take her home before she’s bored, though…I swear she pouted in her house for a good 2 hours this afternoon.

    Of course, then it’s treat time, and everybody knows that coming out and then going back home means you get some candy. Duh! And boy, do we have a riot on our hands if there’s no candy. It doesn’t matter if someone went home 15 minutes ago and got a treat then, no sir. When ANYBODY goes home, EVERYBODY gets a treat.

    Anyway, there’s a random little peek into our lives as cavy slaves, LOL. In my next life, I think I want to come back as a guinea pig…

  3. Am contemplating getting a second 360 controller so that I can have my wife come along in co-op mode which seems popular in most titles that get released these days. But I’m concerned that she’ll resist the handcuffs that will keep her there long enough to complete a chapter in RE5…hmmm.

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