Living the life of a ‘packrat gamer’

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Well, I’ve finally (FINALLY!) finished Bioshock. Yes, Bioshock, the game that was released over 4 years ago in 2007. This is not because of difficulty or unwillingness, but mainly because I’m a self-confessed ‘packrat gamer’.

“But what is a packrat gamer?” I hear you ask…

Well a ‘packrat gamer’ is a term I made up a long time ago to describe the never-ending journey of the videogame completionist. This is a pursuit that not many people I know bother with, as some of my friends speed through videogames within hours. I’m that kind of person that likes to complete games 100% (And I mean 100%). I like to collect every item, explore every cave and corner, buy, sell and trade items amassing an in-game fortune and actually enjoying having every item/weapon/gadget that exists in the game world. I wouldn’t say I’m a virtual compulsive hoarder as I find it’s just the ‘completionist’ way I play games. I know very well that the value of things in a game have no real value apart from the time I’ve wasted into it, but I enjoy it anyway.

Some games I’ve taken an age to complete include Mass Effect, Just cause 2 (So much fun), Transformers: War for Cybertron and Dawn of War 2. Other games that I’ve been playing (For years in some cases) include Borderlands, Metro 2033, Duke Nukem Forever, Fallout3 (Still not finished the DLC), Mass Effect 2, Gears of War 3, Titan Quest, Supreme Commander among others I cant even remember.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love(d) playing the games I’ve listed and I fully intend to complete them, but I feel compelled to explore and collect when I’m playing a videogame. When there is a quiet moment, even in an ‘action game’, I find that I spend time wandering around peeping around corners and opening doors/lockers/crates/chests looking for hidden secrets and collectables before moving onto the next area.

My tendency to explore and collect is exacerbated by the tendency of game developers to hide items around the game world or just to make collecting/completing part of the game mechanic itself. Games like Gears of War do this despite being a progressive action game, and as such it is encouraged to collect the ‘Cog Tags’ that are sprinkled throughout the game in all sorts of nooks and crannies. I would say that most games have a mechanic where you’re not necessarily required, but rewarded for hunting out these hidden gems/rings/tags/coins/etc… It’s a gameplay mechanic that appeals to me somehow, especially when this is linked to an achievement (Which is a whole other level of completionist that I no longer actively pursue). Other games like Just Cause 2 I’ve played for over 41 hours in total and yet only completed 49% of the game because there is so much to collect. Still, that pales in comparison to my apparent devotion to Fallout3, which I’ve managed to rack up over 125 hours of playtime. To put that into perspective, that is over 5 days of sitting at my PC staring at my monitor playing this single game (Not all at once thankfully).

All that being said, I love playing Fallout3, because it is the kind of packrat game that most definitely rewards the player (me in this case) by providing a rich, engaging and convincing world to explore that simulates some of the contrasts of life. By that I mean it’s a dark and unforgiving world that also has quite a bit of humor (Dark humor). Before this starts to turn into a review of Fallout3, I’ll leave it there. Instead, I’ll get back to my experience of Bioshock.

According to Steam, it’s taken me over 33 hours to complete this game. This is significantly longer than the current average on GameLengths of 16 hours and 33 minutes, and also a lot more than the GameLengths maximum record of 24 hours.

Seeing as Bioshock 2 apparently has a maximum record time of 18 hours and 59 minutes, lets see how long that takes…

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