Why I never play something just once

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Disney movies.

I would watch them, enthralled, repeating them until I had every last word down—or, at least, in my childhood naivete and limited vocabulary, thought I did. There was just something magical about being able to recite every line with the characters as they happened; it was like my tiny self had convinced itself that by saying the lines, I could actually be Ariel.

Heaven forbid anyone should say the lines early, though.

When I got a little older, and could start watching movies with my parents that didn’t primarily revolve around off-key singalongs, I learned that not everyone shared my parrot-like love of repeating things.

It made no sense to me; why wouldn’t everyone love hearing the same lines over and over again until they had memorized it? Why would some people only want to see a movie once?

Obviously, nowadays I understand. Humans have an innate need for variety, however comforting the familiar is; and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve learned to appreciate it, but even now, I’m prone to repeating movies and games over and over.

And there are very good reasons for that.

You never know what you’ll find.

The thing about stories, whatever their format, is that you never really get the full impact of them the first time.

There’s always at least one new thing you see, and it helps you put two and two together on a side plot you may not have ever even thought about. This is something I picked up first with movies and shows, and later realized totally applies to games as well.

For example, I can’t even tell you how many times I rewatched the Office before I noticed that in the first five minutes of the pilot episode, Dwight is humming the Little Drummer Boy—Angela’s favourite song—long before we ever learn it’s her favourite.

A truly well-written story will have little Easter eggs like that throughout, just for those who choose to go back. It enriches the story, and makes you appreciate what’s happening all the more.

It’s comforting.

Like I mentioned earlier, we as humans are drawn to the familiar. There’s something relaxing and peaceful about returning to a familiar game, where you can piece details together without needing to learn new button sequences.

That’s why Minecraft is basically a zen experience for me at this point. I know what I’m doing (although sometimes switching from PC to console screws me up because build and destroy buttons are reversed), and I can make something pretty.

This is also super effective when you’re dealing with another game that’s frustrating you.

You can try new things.

One thing that drives me crazy in games is when I’m given options. Deciding is a good thing, but I’m always left wondering what would have happened if I’d made the other choice.

This is a particularly prevalent detail when you get into the Harvest Moon series; you choose who you marry, you choose how you respond to friend events, you choose who you make friends with.

It also gets into my head with the Pokémon games; what about those two poor starters you didn’t pick? That’s why I tried going back and getting all of them with Pearl, and even though it didn’t work out for me, it was still worth it.

Options in games pretty much cry out for multiple games, so it’s a good thing for me when games allow me to have multiple save slots.


Do you play games (or watch movies) over and over? Or do you prefer to stick with one-and-done?

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