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A FORK IN THE ROAD

‘I really did just spend an entire post saying pretty much nothing, didn’t I?’

It’s funny how things come and go. Some do it quickly, like an intense new obsession doomed to burn itself out. Others, however, linger, take their time… and in having lasted just over five years, the subject of this post most definitely ranks among the latter.

It began on July 30, 2013, five months before I’d establish JHNBLOG, starting down the long and questionable road that led to the site you’re looking at now, and — more importantly — four months before the PlayStation 4 graced our living-rooms, bedrooms, and wherever else you might want to spend some quality time with your DualShock, with its presence.

At that time, having gone through quite a few on PS3, I was in the market for a new PSN name. Unlike its predecessors, however, I wanted this one to last. I wanted it to be number-free, too (God forbid PlayStation’s younger audience be tipped off that they’re playing with an ever-older curmudgeon painfully aware of his advancing age…). And, above all, I wanted all the Trophies. Having become enamoured with the hunt in the preceding months, I was determined that this new account’s List would read 100% top to bottom.

And so, after a revelation involving the removal of vowels from my name, JHNMCHLTNR was born. As July 2013 gasped its last, I created the account, set the sign-in details aside, and awaited the arrival of Sony’s latest and greatest.

For five years, I’ve stuck to the plan, obsessively diligently seeking out each and every Trophy the games I play have to offer, staring at percentages other than that elusive 100 with a mixture of determination and anxiety, dreading the inclusion of online achievements in games I plan to play, despairing when DLC comes along and renders incomplete titles that were previously finished, and actively avoiding certain games whose 100% seems impossible to achieve. Sounds fun, right?!

For a long time, it was. Really. Whatever anxiety I felt was far outweighed by the satisfaction that eventually replaced it, and I didn’t much mind the various other drawbacks either.

Until, of course, I did.

It’s been coming for some time, this change of heart, but I didn’t truly acknowledge it until I was faced with Grand Theft Auto V’s Doomsday Heist Trophies earlier this year. As much as I enjoyed the majority of my time with GTA Online, the skill, dedication, and sheer luck required to tick those final achievements off the list was, and is, simply too much for me — especially given that two in particular also rely on the skill, dedication and sheer luck of other players.

Since then, I’ve gone down the proverbial hill with ever-increasing speed. Those bronze, silver, gold and Platinums have felt like more and more of a chore, more burden than boon. And now, alas, I relent. In many ways, I’m just accepting the inevitable…

It’s funny how things come and go. It’s also funny how quickly this one went when I decided to let it.

I won’t pretend I haven’t gone back and forth, but looking at my Trophy List today, with a its handful of incomplete games right up there at the top, I feel only the ghost of the anxiety I felt before. More than anything, in fact, I feel excited to jump into some of those I forced myself to ignore. It’ll definitely take time, but I can’t wait to play without the nagging thought of missing something at the back of my mind.

On some level, this feels like coming up for air after a long time in the depths. I understand exactly why I spent the last five years the way I did, but I also can’t help wondering what the hell I was thinking. I’ve missed out on so much, sacrificed literally hundreds of hours that could’ve been spent pursuing all manner of other ambitions. It’s enough, frankly, to make me question my sanity — and God knows I have plenty of reasons to do that anyway.

It’s not lost on me how ridiculously dramatic this all sounds. A whole post to say that, basically, I’m just like the vast majority of other players now? If nothing else, I suppose, I certainly have a gift for overstatement.

I did, in fact, originally consider calling this post The End of the Road… but that was too much, even for me. And it wouldn’t be entirely true either. I don’t intend to completely turn my back on it all. If I truly enjoy a game, or if the requirements are reasonable enough, I’ll still go after that 100%. Frankly, I expect to Platinum the incomplete games currently at the top of my List, too. I’m pretty much there with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and you can bet your posterior that I’ll be doing the same when a certain dragon makes his return in November. It’s just that, now, I’m not going to let the likelihood of completion govern what I play.

If I play something, enjoy it, but feel no need to return to it after the credits roll, then I’ll simply move on. If I play something and don’t enjoy it, I’ll do the same long before those credits even get the chance. I can’t wait.

Jesus. I really did just spend an entire post saying pretty much nothing, didn’t I?

Sanity? What sanity?


2 COMMENTS

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  • Interesting that you decided to write about this, because I’ve often used you as motivation for whenever I tried attempting a platinum trophy. I’d think something along the lines of, “Well, if John can do this, then surely it must be possible!” before continuously failing and then giving up. It’s nice to have a sense of achievement (as well as a list of them) but it’s even more nice to, y’know, actually enjoy video games. 👍

    • 100%. Looking forward to enjoying a few more of them now! The irony, though, is that I used to look at incomplete Lists for motivation. ‘I can do this! I can skip a Trophy!’ 😅.