So, Your Goals Or Mine?: Focused Missions In Video Games


I like myself some freedom in my gaming experiences. There is something invigorating about not being forced to do anything at any pace other than my own. Lounging about in town messing with the NPCs, exploring the areas and finding what content there is to see on my own terms is an experience that certainly holds many positives. Then again, if I don’t have anything I am required to do, I slip into a lull of boredom or the weight of all the possibilities weighs far heavier on my shoulder than I would want. I could do something fantastic true but it would be all under my own personal restrictions, I just can’t enjoy a self imposed challenge as much as I’d like.

The problem at hand is that it is expected of the player to do what they wish with what they have been presented. Here are the parts to something fantastic, enjoy figuring it out. Interesting how I don’t go to a diner and get given the ingredients along with “figure it out” on my tablecloth, gaming is the only area I have experienced the phenomenon. It is a rather modern concept after all, while I do like the idea of say playing Mario and making my own custom levels, that ideal comes from having already played through the years of what it has to offer. Can you imagine if you were handed the building blocks to Megaman before it even existed to you and were told to “let your imagination free”? What an interesting result that might have garnered….or not.

So the premise of these games is to use your imagination,yes? I am an imaginative person, I should bloody well hope so if I ever plan to get my foot into this forsaken industry and start doing something. There is certainly no issue with mustering up the brain power to make something I can enjoy, however then I begin to wonder why I didn’t just go grab some Lego or Mega Bloks and just get stuck in. I’m not the kind of person who goes to gaming to enjoy a sprawling landscape or world without any focus or direction, a story or a set of goals present me the challenges rather than me making them up on the fly, self imposed challenges are flaky and lack depth. Why am I collecting all these berries? I don’t know, guess I’ll start a berry store or farm or something. Tell me that I am getting them to feed that orphanage over there and I’ll be jumping at every berry in sight, personal motivation can only carry some people so far, me being part of that crowd.

The normal idea for a game is to be given a series of challenges presented by the levels or areas and what they contain, to go somewhere with a idea of what we shall be doing and looking perhaps for some context as to why. This clearly got old for some people, holding to the designated path isn’t inherently path I will happily agree as the human mind likes to think about options and multiple approaches. Problem solving is inherent to our species, it is part of why we have thrived on the Earth for crying out loud, see a problem fix a problem get ahead of the curve (the curve at that point being everything else vying for survival).There was also the advent of people taking a large interest in gaming from the creators viewpoint, the idea of making something you have always loved in any capacity is something any enthusiast would jump at the chance for, especially when game design seemed so simple to a beginners mind. There was a palpable market for young players who wanted to get in the drivers seat and get making levels or creating bigger and bolder than they had already tried before.

In my experiences as a gamer, I’ve noticed a game tends to go one of 4 possible ways:

– A completely linear approach, you have to do what they tell you, go to where you have to go while straying from the designated path is impossible or likely punished

– Open linear, you have to do what you are told but you can go about it in a variety of ways, being told often broad objectives like “get to here” or “take them out” giving you options to your approach and a bit of exploration is suggested or possibly rewarded

-Sandbox, you have main goals but you have the entire world to play in and do as you wish, a playground with a set of basic missions and possibly a coherent story

-Full open world, no overarching goals or plans, you do what you want when you want with nothing but your own mind to guide you

I have always looked from afar at games like Minecraft. They seem to be really fun….for the people that can get into doing whatever they want in a world, which is clearly not me. I kinda feel like I don’t get to enjoy these experiences unless I throw a large amount of time into them along with a decent community to support it. Like any game that needs a large time investment to “get to the good part” there is a large hesitation to get into it, worse so when you know that what lies ahead isn’t something you can just adapt to.

Well then, what about all of you then? How do you like your games, focused upon a plot or full freedom to do as you wish? Are there games you don’t get into because they rely so heavily upon your content creation? Thanks for the read and as always I’ll see you around.


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  1. #1 by theimpassionedcynic on December 25, 2014 - 11:41 pm

    I personally enjoy having goals, assigned by the game or by myself.

    I’ve found that games like Guild Wars 2, Destiny, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto and the like usually have goals that the game gives you but then you have more than enough freedom to give yourself other goals.

    Like, in Guild Wars 2 I might run a few dungeons so I can get a specific dungeon set that I can then transmutate into the skins of a custom set I chose; In GTA I might want to collect enough money for that set of clothes I want for my character or that car i’ve been after; I might play Destiny for a few hours so I can level up the factions for drops or maybe gear up for a raid; Minecraft is Minecraft so no explanation needed haha.

    Come to think of it, I also have fashion related goals in the Souls games. Looking for armor to mix and match is metagame in of itself in the Souls games hahaha. Fashion’s Souls and all that.

    So basically I want to have a structure that the game gives me but that I can pick and choose how to play the game and what to pursue. Overly linear games, while fun while they last, usually don’t do that much for me. Although i’ve been known to give myself challenge goals for games like those. For example, when I play stealth games like Thief or Dishonored i usually have self imposed goals. For thief it’s usually to avoid everyone while in Dishonored it was to kill bad people in the stealthiest and coolest ways possible.


  2. #2 by TekfortheMasses on November 22, 2014 - 9:18 pm

    I like a balance leaning towards the side of open world freedom although there in lies the problem if you finish the story missions there is usually very little to keep the player interested apart from side missions and collecting challenges.


    • #3 by Prof.mcstevie on November 22, 2014 - 9:21 pm

      You get through the grand story and then….well fuck now I’m far too strong to face a challenge, I’ve likely missed some cool achievements or missable quests and I’ve been everywhere… into the draw you go Game No. 38582.

      Liked by 1 person

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