Play to Satisfaction or Completion?

The other day I finished Hollow Knight’s story for the first time… by which I mean I got one of the endings. Now, I’m satisfied with leaving it at that even though I’m only at 80-something% completion because 100% or 112% would probably ruin the game for me. That’s very much in line with the “Play to Satisfaction” mindset that a lot of people have, including Krikket over here. I mean, I personally am not much of a completionist. I mean, I did get 100% in Subnautica: Below Zero and Omensight, as well as a bunch of other games but once it gets grindy, I don’t really go for the 100% anymore. In the case of Hollow Knight, getting the last 14% would entail collecting all grubs, charms, grinding essence, getting the DLC, finishing that up, beating a lot of different optional minibosses, and… Yeah, I love Hollow Knight too much to do that to my experience.

Like seriously, Hollow Knight is great. If you haven’t yet, play it yourself, but if I were to destroy my experience by grinding stuff and looking everything up, then I’d end up disliking the experience. Truly, it would be annoying. And because the human brain always remembers negative experiences and easily forgets positive things (some evolutionary thing), I’d probably end up thinking that Hollow Knight was grindy even if that wasn’t the case at all. That’s just the thing with completionist achievements: Most games are doing a bad job with them where you have to backtrack for ages and then you regret playing the game or you hate it or you quit it. The completionist achievement isn’t this sort of badge of honour anymore. It’s about perseverance and masochism. If you hate yourself enough, you can 100% any game… but at what a cost?

Either way, my mindset with games is that I try to play until I’m bored with them. In the case of Bioshock, for instance, I never bothered to look up achievements as many of them require you to find all secrets, play the game multiple times, and effectively ruin the experience for the player. I was more than happy to have experienced the story for the first time and to have actually seen one of the endings before looking up the other endings later on YouTube if there are any. With other games, I tend to do the same: Play through the story, even if it drags on a bit, see one of the endings, and then I call it a day unless I really love the game. There are times where I want to 100% a title, like in Outer Wilds, but some of the achievements take a few attempts and I just leave it for later, eventually forgetting about them.

Playing to Satisfaction is honestly a good mindset that more people should follow. I mean, there are times when a game costs 30 to 60 bucks but only offers eleven hours of playtime and I kind of regret the purchase, like with the Destroy All Humans remake that I preordered. It’s a bummer, obviously, but at times the experience is worth more than the time spent there. I know people that would play a game for at least 20 to 50 hours before eventually stopping just to get “their money’s worth out of it” but that can really ruin the fun out of games, from my experience, and I don’t think it’s worth it overall. Instead, play until bored, then move on to the next title. I haven’t unlocked everything in Isaac but I certainly got “my money’s worth” out of it. Do I stop now? No, I’ll probably do another Isaac run later today, then ragequit, then I pick it up again a few days later. 

So, completing a game feels a bit tedious and grindy at times, which is why I prefer to stick to my guns and play until I feel like I’ve had enough of a title. Once I notice that I’m not playing a game anymore because it’s fun but rather because of some silly achievement, I tend to get bored and drop it. And that’s fine. You shouldn’t feel obliged to finish a game on the hardest difficulty in under 20 hours to get that stupid Hollow Knight achievement that only X% of the player base has. Like, I don’t want to become an HK speedrunner for the sake of some silly badge that nobody cares about. 

Similarly, I’ve been keeping my streak up for the blog but that’s mostly because I enjoy writing these posts here. As of late, there haven’t been too many reviews but that’s mostly because I haven’t really been feeling up to the task. I have these few drafts here for a bunch of game reviews and I’m not making any progress with any of them. I’m in a bit of a slump because of that and hence, my other posts have been having delays as well… Once I noticed that I’m not writing those reviews because I’m enjoying the process of writing them but instead because “this game just came out” or “the developers sent me a key”, I stopped it. Why do it for someone else if you don’t feel up for it? So, I effectively took a break from reviews until I feel up to it again or until I actually want to really write about a game like SNKRX, for instance. I’ve been meaning to review it ever since I first uploaded a video on it on YouTube. I didn’t have the time, however, and ended up reviewing so many other games in the meantime. My last review was on Death’s Door. I love that game to bits, so I wrote the review there. Before that, I reviewed Dungeon of the ENDLESS, another one of my favourites, as well as Monster Train. These other games that I’m writing about right now have been great, sure, but it feels like my motivation there isn’t exactly “I wanna write about it because I have fun writing about it” but rather “I have to write about it because I haven’t yet written about it”, which is a weird and an unhealthy mindset.

Overall, I try to apply “Play to Satisfaction” or “Do it for yourself” to everything. I feel like playing or writing or reading because YOU want to is more important than hunting for some silly badge or achievement or some other sort of prize… It’s just like with books that I personally didn’t enjoy reading but I’d feel bad about not finishing them because they were gifts or friends recommended them. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. Say no. Do something else that you enjoy. Do it for yourself. That’s much healthier. If it becomes a hassle, work on something else. Go for the change of pace. 

Essentially, I rambled quite a bit there but with me being in a slump at the moment offline, I had a bit less fun with blogging. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun… I just feel so unproductive IRL and the blog posts are the only things that I’ve been accomplishing for a while now apart from a few milestones in the streams. Now that I didn’t really make progress with some of these reviews, I felt a bit down overall,… Once I identified that that’s an or rather the issue, I put them on hold and I’ll most likely try working on them again in the next few days once my mindset and mental health have recovered a bit. I mean, in all things, good mental health is key, after all. Once that starts deteriorating, you won’t get anything done, so why pressure yourself to finish a game when you can also just have fun, right?

What do you think? Is “Play to Satisfaction” applicable to other things in life, both online and offline? Do you play to satisfaction and drop a game without guilt-tripping yourself over it or do you finish all games, books, and shows from start to finish even if you don’t enjoy them as much anymore? Do you apply that idea to other things in life? Let me know!

Cheers!

This post is part of the Blaugust 2021 event. For more information on that, check out this post!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

5 thoughts on “Play to Satisfaction or Completion?

Add yours

  1. Before I read this post: Play to completion! Always! Well, almost always…

    Now, let’s read what you actually wrote.
    Okay, I agree with you on pretty much everything here. Most game *DO* an atrocious job of making 100%ing it fun, and playing to satisfaction is, of course, a completely viable way of seeing it. Technically, playing to completion is just another form of playing to satisfaction, albeit a longer one.
    Like I said, I like to play my games to completion. But, like most people, my concept of completion might differ from another person’s.
    Generally, I will always complete the main story, all optional story-related content (mostly, I don’t care about arbitrary challenge rooms or stuff like that), and all collectibles. If I haven’t done this in a game, I’m not satisfied. On the other hand, I don’t care about achievements, most of the time, and/or multiplayer stuff. With NG+ and different characters it’s a mixed bag. If I really like the game, I will definitely do it, if not, then other playstyles will probably just fall by the wayside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you in that completion means “I’ve seen the credits roll” or “I have finished all the scenarios in the single player campaign”. I like achievements, but actually chasing them is the exception for me, not the norm.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’d say that playing through the story means that you see the end credits roll. Some side quests, the main quest, some collectibles – fair enough. Spending 100 hours searching for every single cucumber available in the game isn’t fun though but tedious and I wouldn’t do it in a game that is technically only 6 hours long.
      Sure, completion can be another form of playing to satisfaction, but for me completion entails 100%-ing a game and I don’t think that you can 100% every game – meanwhile you can 100% play every game to satisfaction, even if it means dropping it when you don’t like it.

      Does that make sense?

      Liked by 1 person

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