I love open world games, I really do. I love the ability to explore and to basically create your own particular narrative within the structure of the game’s overall story. But one of the things I love most is the abundance of side quests available in just about every such game.
Well, love may be a strong word. Apprehension is also a word I might use, as the more of them I collect, the more I see time just ticking away.
As someone who is quite organized in reality, I like the idea of a concise list of tasks that can be accomplished and put to bed. I like that I can have ten of them stocked up, spend a bit of time completing each, then feel I have accomplished something tangible.
Am I aware that I’ve not actually “done” anything? Of course. Do I enjoy it anyway? Absolutely.
In the lovely world of “real” adult life, there seems to be a never ending set of tasks and errands that are far less interesting and productive to accomplish. Buying paper towels is not interesting, however it does take time to go to the store, buy them, and bring them home. Going to the DMV is likely no one’s task of choice, but it’s an inevitability of life, and rarely takes less than several hours. Grocery shopping is not exciting. A large array of real life tasks are, in short, somewhat boring.
By comparison, most side quests in games are at least moderately interesting, don’t require spending money on gas, time on travel to and from said place, and they even give you something neato at the end, to boot.
I have never gotten XP from a DMV.
And I have to go to the DMV on Monday. Wheee?
I’ve recently been playing an abundance of Dying Light with a friend. We enjoy racking up XP, collecting “crack bags,” and getting every side quest behind us. We both seem to feel compelled to finish every possible side quest before moving on in the story. I like that we are on the same page.
Also, in these types of games, it can only ever really help your progression to finish as many side quests as possible. In reality, you can sometimes go back to the same place multiple times in an effort to finish the same requirements, and still without positive conclusion.
No wonder I like to complete side quests in games! They help me feel nearly instantly productive. Who wouldn’t want to feel this way?
So while I may inherently feel daunted at a map full of icons showing all the non-essential content left to do, it’s also kind of wonderful, as I know they are all doable tasks. I wish I could look at my real life to do list with the same level of confidence. Some items on that list have been there far longer than I’d like to admit.
So friends, on that note, I wish you all a lovely, safe, and productive weekend. And may all your pretend side quests and real life errands be as productive as they are brief.