Setting Sights on 100

No, not 100 posts. I’ll get there in my own dear, sweet time. I mean, unless I wanted to start creating blog posts that consisted of one or two sentences. Instead, I’m talking about the concept in video gaming of aiming for the illusive 100% completion. A fair number of games have this, and, oddly enough, 100% completion certainly means different things in different games. For some games, it truly means doing everything that the game contains within it, or at least everything that the developers considered a possibility. In other games, 100% completion is actually achieved through doing MOST of what you can in the game (I’m looking at you, Grand Theft Auto V).

Naturally, for more than a few games, 100% completion also ties into the achievements/trophies/whatever that they award the player with for doing random actions. For example, if you’re supposed to push 30 old grannies into oncoming traffic to get 100% completion, there’s probably a trophy awarded for pushing 25 grannies in. It doesn’t actually get you the full way, but it gives you an indication of one of the things they might be looking for. Not to say that 100% completion is completely obvious, even when looking at the trophies contained within the game. After all, you can find games out there where you can actually get awarded for doing everything that the developers wanted to give an extra digital cookie for, and still find yourself sitting at only 85% completion. Or, alternately, you could zoom past the 100% completion mark, and still have achievements that you haven’t attained (which, clearly indicates how serious you really are about gaming when people look at your profile). And, of course, the second version of this doesn’t really jive with the concept of 100% completion, because, well, if there’s still stuff to do, you haven’t done it all. That is, of course, unless the game is the elementary school gym class competition of games, where everyone gets 100% just for participating. The real go-getters can get to somewhere near 150%, but it isn’t going to count anyways.

Did you untie that one, completely hidden knot in the tutorial? 99% for you!

Did you untie that one, completely hidden knot in the tutorial? 99% for you!

Part of the issue that I find myself facing with regards to the 100% conundrum (as I like to refer to it) is the amount of things that get locked off, because you moved a little too fast through the game. Did you check all of the ketchup bottles? Sort every piece of silverware? Did you make sure to have your in-game car visit every single stoplight in the starting town? If not, you may not be able to get that completion. Not only did we not really let you know it was something we were tabulating, but we didn’t make it clear that you wouldn’t be able to come back and clean up. Hope you enjoyed playing this game for 37 hours, because, if you’ve got a hint of OCD and want to hit that magical 100% mark, you’ll easily be dropping another 92 in another playthrough, mindlessly scouring every last pixel on the screen to make sure you didn’t miss something. But hey, you never know what your reward will be for doing everything we planned!

And that’s the second issue. Far too often, the 100% completion reward (when there is one) is completely worthless, even in the game world. Maybe it’s GTA‘s “I got 100% completion and all I got is this lousy t-shirt” joke. Maybe it’s a weapon for an RPG that would have been useful when you were hovering around 50-60% completion, but the amount of grinding you had to do to reach the fabled 100% has made the weapon completely useless. Heck, maybe it’s just a virtual “thumbs-up” from the makers of the game, for doing anything and everything they might have thought you could do (and, probably, a few things they were fairly certain that you couldn’t).

For a completionist, the lure of 100% is always out there, even in games where it doesn’t seem like it should be (the game may not track it on it’s own, however). It can go hand-in-hand with achievements, or it can be a stand-alone endeavor. In a way, gunning for 100% is its own self-imposed challenge, except, instead of having to fight dragons armed with only a fist and a tiara, you have to fight EVERY SINGLE DRAGON IN THE HISTORY OF DRAGONS, but you’re armed with the equivalent of a thermonuclear device, one that you yourself are impervious to. Once you’ve done all that, you’ll get the fantastic rewards contained therein. I just hope you like to change the clothes for your main character in a second playthrough. Because that’s probably what you’re going to get.

I mean, at least the Final Fantasy games set up the changing of clothes as a central mechanic to the main game.

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