Hard-Wired to Play the Wrong Way in Today's Open Thread

When you have to be true to your gaming values, no matter what kind of game you're playing.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/hard-wired-to-play-the-wrong-way-in-todays-open-thread

I stop at stoplights and stay on the road in GTAV. Some people do this for fun, but I do it because it’s right.

I also pretty much stealth everything. Breath of the Wild was spent almost exclusively in sneak mode with the Sheikah suit. Fallout 3, NV, and 4 were all spent in perpetual crouch mode. Metal Gear Solid was all about not getting caught. I am loud and boisterous in real life, so maybe it’s a roleplaying thing? I dunno.


I didn’t play GTAV because I’ve kinda fallen out with the series, but I remember when I started GTAIV I really, really wanted to be a good guy.

I was just an immigrant, hopeful for the future, so I would obey traffic (as much as I knew how to, I don’t actually drive), and try to be on the straight and narrow until the game wrenched me out of it, and I found it really hard to go from just being some guy, to being a guy that did these crimes but there were some mitigating circumstances I guess, to somewhere along the line just being a criminal for it’s own sake and no longer seeming to care.


Yeah, I find that weird as well. I really liked True Crime: Streets of LA and Sleeping Dogs for allowing me the GTA feel but allowing me to be a good guy like I wanted to be. In Bethesda games I’m kind of a thief but otherwise a standup guy (who will steal your stuff because digital hording is more acceptable than doing it IRL). More realistic games need to just let you be genuinely good.

Can’t ever hurt animals or excuse somebody else for doing so :frowning: will completely break out of character to right animal wrongs. Will reload any save no matter how far back if harm comes to my animal companions


As for me, I don’t know whether this qualifies, because none of these games MAKE you pick romances, usually, but in a game where you can only have straight romances, I sort of prefer to romance nobody than pick one of the straight options.

So I’ve never had a romance in a Persona game despite doing 3 of them now, and whenever I get conversation options I always pick ones that indicate I am not interested in talking about what my ‘type’ is, etc.

And I didn’t romance anyone in Mass Effect until the 3rd game.

I don’t think it’s really intended as a ‘protest’ against the lack of these options, it’s just that… I dunno. When they only provide one kind of romance option, it feels like the designers didn’t make this bit of the game ‘for’ me, in a way. I’m not the audience, so I just… choose not to participate.


I think the rub for me is when a game implies I am prone to violence, like how some talk of Niko I react with a “hey fuck you and your pigeon hole” and try to be as upstanding as I can be, which creates serious dissonance with the main campaign.


In most games with consumables I’m afraid to use them.

I think this stems from playing Pokemon as a kid. In Pokemon Red you’re given a master ball half way thru the game. I didn’t understand that it was a 100% catch rate and used it to catch Zapdos.

I realized after reading an issue of Nintendo Power that I wasted it basically and from then on became a digital hoarder…


Always active reload. Even though 99.99% of games I play don’t reward pressing any buttons during reload, I do it anyways and it makes me feel good. I’ve placebo’d myself int obelieving jamming R when reloading makes it go slightly faster in any game. It’s kind of terrible.

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I actually have this quirk in a lot of games. It makes playing games like XCOM and Fire Emblem really tough. I can’t stand the idea that one of my crewmates might die. I scrub my way through these games trying to preserve ever person in my group. Each battle is more of a puzzle that I have to solve to get all these people through in one piece.

Weirdly this doesn’t hit me as hard in games like Mass Effect where certain decisions can lead to the loss of a character. I guess there it fits more in shaping the story to be more tragic?

Another quirk I have is saving items. This happens a lot in JRPGs. It started back in Final Fantasy, where I would save up all my megaelixirs and the like waiting for that moment where I’d really need them. Of course this time never comes and I complete the game basically playing on a harder difficulty because I refuse to just drink the potion an heal myself. This has carried over to other games, though, where I won’t sell equipment because… Well, I don’t know why. Cause I’m weird!

For the longest time, if a shooter had cover, I would play it exactly like Gears even if that wasn’t the “right” way to play it. I feel like I’m the kind of person who always wants to “play it safe” instead of just running in.

In hindsight I used cover way, WAY too much when I played Vanquish years ago, which is probably why I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped. That’s why I’m excited for the PC port so I can give in another shot and just go hog wild instead of ducking and covering.

I like to think everyone ends every Final Fantasy with 50 Megalixers.


I definitely have a perfectionist streak.

A game I often go back to once a year or so is SWAT 4, and I’ll usually find myself playing the same mission 4 or 5 times because I won’t let myself move on until I’ve completed it “perfectly”; all suspects arrested instead of killed/incapacitated, no officers or civilians injured, etc. etc.

Even when games make allowances for you to mess up, I will instantly load the last quicksave/checkpoint as soon as anything goes wrong. Modern stealth games like Dishonored or Splinter Cell Blacklist are famously generous with letting you be a gun/sword-slinging badass if enemies see you; but I still play those games the same way I played the original Splinter Cell. Immediately reloading as soon as anyone spots me.


Something I have a hard time with is not making use of the best tools at my disposable, which makes a lot of games get long in the tooth much earlier than they should.

A recent example was MGSV. The game’s AI and stealth system allows for even routine outpost-captures to feel like measure, expert attempts to outsmart and outflank enemies—if you ignore the Stun Arm, the cloak, D-Dog, Quiet, suppressed tranquilized snipers, most lethal weapons, most vehicles, and the fact that rolling while prone is treated the same as moving while prone. And if I could ignore all those things it would’ve held my attention much longer, but even if I jump into a mission without them, knowing that I had to purposefully restrict myself to keep the game interesting on my first playthrough makes most accomplishments feel insubstantial.

I think it crops up more with stealth games—even Invisible, Inc. suffers from it. Magic systems in CRPGs suffer from it, too. It not only feels like I’m playing the wrong way, but like the game itself doesn’t know what the right way would be. It just throws tools at me and assumes I’ll cobble something together.

This is kind of the opposite to playing the ‘wrong way’, but I think it still counts. I have to play games optimally. If I’m given a decision between mechanically distinct abilities or upgrades, I need to run numbers and look around for analysis and determine which is better. I don’t ever run with the party of characters I want to use, but the one that is most powerful.

It’s not that I’m an elitist or hate losing. I love games like Dwarf Fortress where losing is supposed to be part of the fun. I just get incredibly stressed, unhappy and all-around have a bad time when I am knowingly (or suspect I am) making decisions that are worse than my alternatives, even if I think the alternative sounds much more fun or interesting.

It’s ruined a lot of games for me, where the optimal strategy is not fun for me but not doing it stresses me out so much that the game becomes miserable to play. But hey, at least I always know what I’m doing in WoW raids!

Ditto to “I never use consumables”, I reached ending A of Nier, ran out of healing items on the final boss and decided to spam the effect items that I had stockpiled. I have no idea if it helped.

I have the opposite problem of liking to rush into things rather than prepare. I hated Gears of War when I played a couple games with a friend ten years ago, because he was taking cover and I just walked up to him and got shot. I was so frustrated because I want to be able to move in a game. The movement in Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch is the only reason I like those shooters, as soon as I’m told to stay still I get frustrated.

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I had a moment a few years ago when I realized that I actually didn’t “have to be” a completionist, and I was 100% free to leave side quests undone either if they didn’t seem fun to me, or if I didn’t agree with the choices presented.

It feels like I used to treat open world games like I was just moving from left to right across an all-you-can-eat-buffet, gorging joylessly on each separate thing egardless of whether it appealed to me or if I was hungry, because I “had to.” Once I started to pick and choose, it made the whole experience a lot better. It seems obvious in hindsight but giving myself room to just… not do things… for either moral or enjoyment reasons fundamentally changed the way I play those games.


I’m right there with you on the stealth thing. If a game lets me be stealthy, I will always do that, even if the game’s stealth mechanics aren’t good. It’s kind of absurd, actually.
I’ll sneak past trainers in Pokemon, just to turn around and challenge the trainer to a battle. Getting around in Baldur’s Gate takes forever, because my party is in stealth 90% of the time.

I touched on this in the “Do you role play in RPGs?” thread. While I’m most often prone to this sort of thing in an RPG where I’m consciously roleplaying with a sort of personal headcanon for my character, it’s started to seep into how I play other games too.

Like Rob’s article, I can relate through my XCOM experiences, getting attached to my squad (especially if I’ve named and personalized them!) and jeopardizing the overall mission to attempt to save everyone. In open-world RPGs, or any game that offers a degree of player choice, I try to veer toward character consistency, even if that means making a choice to preserve the integrity of how I’ve decided I want to play a character at the sacrifice of a mechanical, in-game benefit.

This can be most jarring when a game simply forces you to play a certain way. I think more than anything, I don’t like being shoehorned into a particular style of game play where there’s only one way of solving a problem. That’s a simple enough issue when we’re just talking about game mechanics, but when it gets into the deeper ethical questions of character behaviour and choice, I find that forcing me into only one course of action can leave a bad taste in my mouth. I was determined to stick to a pacifist style of gameplay in Fallout 4 for as long as possible, but there’s simply no way to do this in the main story — almost immediately, you’re forced to kill. (I guess there’s as much to be said about painting a realistic picture of an unforgiving wasteland, but why not give your players some agency in your supposed sandbox?)

It’s important to note that there’s a key difference between forcing me to make a difficult decision for narrative benefit, and forcing only one choice on me because that’s just how that game works. If a game’s story says “You have to take this action, even if goes against your value system, because it’s the only way to save everyone,” then that can create fantastic character development. If it’s “You can only take this action because reasons,” that’s lazy game design to me.

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I try to avoid killing animals whenever possible, rabbits above all else. This actually almost kept me from playing Assassin’s Creed 3 entirely, since a required part of tutorial is skinning a rabbit. But in BotW it was just an interesting wrinkle, as I basically had to play without elixirs.