Content of the article: "Finally be able to appreciate Path of Exile after I curbed my perfectionism"
Most of you might know Path of Exile, the Diablo like ARPG that is infamous for its huge skill tree and complex systems. On paper it was a dream game to me, I liked the depth and flexibility it offered, I enjoyed theory crafting and experimenting. However my perfectionism prevented me to enjoy the game as it should be.
Basically I was scared, I was fixated on choosing the best build, having one perfect character, leveling in the most efficient way. Some might call it min maxing but my problem was beyond that. Because of this fear of not getting THE perfect play through, I made another big mistake that was choosing the permanent league instead of the temporary one.
I tried to get into the game multiple times over years but couldn't. I always burn myself out before I reached end game. Recently I ran out of game to play, soni thought I'd give it another try but this time I don't give a f about anything, I'll just play the most casual way possible and try to get to end game and see what it's like.
And I was hooked. It is indeed dream come true ARPG for me. The complex mechanics, the climbing in power levels are intoxicating. The lessons were, the journey of progressing is the fun, while trying too hard to optimise HOW I progress killed the fun.
Funny thing is, I know my perfectionism was the main part to blame, but looking back I believe the shifting trend of game design also led me astray.
Games have been handing out "perfection" in a plate.
I started this type of games with Diablo 2 but that felt like a distant memory. Something more ingrained actually started with World of Warcraft. Which many categorised as "theme park" MMO. Then I had many hours in Dialo 3. One design philosophy they had in common was making everything easy, curated and devoid of annoying consequences. They carefully feed you a steady stream of dopamine by telling you everything you do is fun, anything suboptimal can be easily rectified, the perfect/pinacle experience is just around the corner for you to grab… As long as you kept playing.
It's awfully similar to what social media tries to sell us: everyone is perfect, everything is blissful, everyone agrees with you, just keep scrolling and liking and buying the products the KOLs are recommending. But let me focusing on gaming instead.
For me, getting used to the "easy" game designs made me scared of anything that's not easily achievable or easily optimisable, as well as any failure that can't be easily rectified. I was sold the illusion of "perfect" experience, losing sight that it's just games. Whatever I got in the end doesn't matter anyway, the fun is playing the game itself: figuring out how things work, getting surprised, progressing because I'm resourceful, not merely because I ticked more quest markers.
Anyway thats my story, it's a personal realisation, as well as hoping to discuss that should games designs stick to providing the playground for our brains to explore and be challenged, instead of the dopamine machines that keep us forever satisfied and playing more?
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