The Glory Of Side Quests (And How They Make Me Feel Extra Productive)

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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.


Categories: games

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9 replies »

  1. That quest in the picture you used was interesting and yeah side quests in games are a nice change of pace from the story.


  2. Lol, I blogged about a similar topic too last year: a friend of mine just can’t put a game down unless she has done each and every side quest. In some games side quests make the game from a good game, to a great game!


  3. I really wanted to comment on this the first time I read it, but found I couldn’t do so without using WAY too many words. I ended up writing my own post about side quests (shameless plug) in which I site yours for inspiration and direct people here (forgiveness for shameless plug). Long story short, I love side quests and the feeling of completeness they can bring. However, they can have a downside by potentially confusing the moral alignment of the main character when performing them all.


    • no such thing as way too many words. :)

      hey, we all have to plug our work somewhere, right? i will go read it!

      and you’re right. some side quests can certainly be confusing when looked at within the narrative.


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