As you may or may not know I have been playing through Final Fantasy X with my boyfriend (if you don’t know then read about it here!), and in our most recent session, he told me how much it frustrates him to watch me play. This is because, while we have both agreed that we are equally skilled at gaming (when I say “equally skilled” I of course mean that I am way better than he is), we have very different ways of playing: I like to explore, have some fun with it, not take it too seriously, use every character equally, and try things out for myself without always knowing what’ll happen. Once I have finished the game and know what is effective, and if I liked the game enough, I’ll play through it again in a more power-centred, effective manner. He prefers to immediately identify the optimal build for his chosen characters, stick to a solid plan throughout the game, and turn that team into an efficient powerhouse (to the neglect of all other characters).
In the case of FFX, I recently recruited Rikku (who is fast becoming my favourite character by the way) and I was changing the party formation round a lot so that she could get a hit in at the beginning of the battle (to gain some experience before being swapped out for someone stronger). This was apparently frustrating at times because I could make the game go faster by simply focusing on three already-powerful core characters (i.e. Yuna, Auron and Tidus, in his opinion). I get that my way makes the grinding go on for longer, but I think it’s worth it to see what the less powerful ones can do later in the game, although my other half insists it’s not worth it. In FFXIII though, I really stuck with the weaker characters like Vanille and Hope, and they were hugely powerful at the end of my game so I think that my theory stands.
Similar to our FF playing styles is Pokémon. He will focus on a couple of main Pokémon throughout the main quest, only working on filling his Pokédex once the Elite Four lie broken at his feet. On the other hand, I will try to level up my whole team equally and if I catch a Pokémon that I think sounds interesting I’ll try it out for a while and see what they’re like. This means that in PvP situations, I’m usually at a huge disadvantage over other players, which I do find a little frustrating, but I don’t play PvP that often and I get emotionally attached to my team so I don’t want to put them in the PC prison. It would be like a Pokémon Breeder taking on a Cool Trainer if I were to battle my boyfriend. You can tell that we’re a cool couple by how we’ve assigned ourselves Pokémon trainer types – actually, he wants it known that I designated him Cool Trainer. I may never hear the end of that.
For a nice visual comparison to really demonstrate my point, we both played Stardew Valley recently. He’s a little ahead of me but not by that much so it’s a pretty accurate comparison. Here is my farm (aka Awesomeness Farm):
And here is his farm:
So as you can see I didn’t focus that much on the money making, or optimal farm spacing. I wasn’t too fussed, I was busy cooing over my animals and experimenting with hats (there’s a mouse that sells hats! Why not?!), and I’m never actually left needing money desperately at this point anyway. I do plan on starting a new game soon where I will focus more on optimising my farm (not to the pixel perfect degree of his farm; I am too impatient to do that) because now I know what to do and how to do it, and which parts of the game I enjoy the most, I can jump straight to it. I know that there is a sort of endgame ‘finale’ after three in-game years which varies depending on how well your farm has done, but that doesn’t affect your playthrough in any meaningful way, just your pride if you take it to heart. You can carry on with the game afterwards just like before, so personally I don’t see a reason to get so mad over tactics.
When I first realised what type of gamer he was, I thought that this might be him obsessing over the game for bragging rights – i.e. being able to say things like “I have over a million gold in Stardew Valley!” or “I took out the final boss in FFX in two hits!” etc, and not actually enjoying playing the game. But talking with him about it, he assured me that that’s just the way he has fun, and he was struggling just as hard to understand how I found it fun taking the long way round and being so underpowered (until the end of the game at least).
So at the end of the day I suppose it doesn’t matter how you play a game as long as you enjoy it! Bit of an obvious moral, but sometimes it’s difficult not to be blindsided by your own playstyle.
We are actually thinking about recording a debate on this subject – voicing both sides of the issue for you all to read or listen to! – in what would surely start out as a light-hearted conversation, before almost certainly turning entertainingly heated as we become more and more passionate regarding the topic at hand. Let me know if you’d be interested in our bickering on gaming attitudes and play styles!
What’s your play style? Is there something about the way other gamers play that makes you angry?