Gaming Guilty Pleasures

We’ve all done it. The temptation’s gotten the best of us.  Our hearts are racing, minds on fire, praying you’re not caught, hoping no-one comes into the room, because if they do, you’re caught sweating, panting heavily, clutching the controller then turning away quickly and shouting “Don’t look!”.  It’s too late.  You’ve been caught with your pants down, hobbling poorly along on the Wii Fit you laughed at her for playing. Now it’s laughing at you because you’re overweight and you can’t even get close to beating any of her scores, and she’s laughing at you because you’ve collapsed on the floor in a sweaty heap, and you’re naked. You couldn’t help yourself, could you? This is going to be harder to explain than the time she caught you charging your beam sword in No More Heroes.

Okay, so it’s never that bad in reality, but we all have guilty pleasures in life. Whether it’s music, TV shows, films, books, people, there’s always something in life we find ourselves doing or wanting to do that we normally wouldn’t enjoy otherwise. Despite all reason, we can’t help ourselves, there’s no way we should be doing it, but it feels so good. That exists in gaming too.

I’m just as guilty of it as everyone else. One such guilty pleasure is when I find myself becoming immersed in fictional entities and worlds within games. If a game spends the time to create a great fictional world, a lot of the time, I’ll want to know more about it, or find out more about it. From the hidden lore in the Metroid Prime games to the websites in GTA4, I’ll be into it. In Brutal Legend, I’d not only find myself trying to learn as much about the world as I could, but I always felt really sheepish whenever the characters would call Eddie Riggs ‘Edward’, because I’d forget they weren’t addressing me directly. I spent most of my time after unlocking it playing the Kabbage Boy’s “Girlfriend” song that plays in the game’s opening sequence because they spent the time creating a fictional band and creating a song that acts as a perfect way of parodying everything they want to with that band. I sat listening to the Midnight Riders songs over and over whenever they ended up on YouTube because Valve took the time to create the fictional band, like Double Fine did with Kabbage Boy, and both ended up as examples of musical guilty pleasures crossing over into gaming guilty pleasures too.

However, my biggest gaming guilty pleasures involve the fact that I have way too many games to play. I’ll constantly end up denying myself a play on one game because it’d take me an hour or two more investment before I started truly enjoying it, instead deciding to dedicate those hours pissing about in a virtual world or playing something that can’t truly be beaten, instead. Those games in themselves are another guilty pleasure. I’m someone who tends to prefer games where there’s a more distinct beginning, middle and end, or a fully defined open world. I’m not the biggest fan of games in which the primary mechanic is just trying to get the highest score possible, or games you can’t possibly define as having an ending, but in rare cases, they can be a guilty pleasure and take over my life. I’ve lost countless hours to Team Fortress 2, Audiosurf and Beat Hazard in the last year over games that I can physically complete. When I bought Animal Crossing: Wild World, I played it every day for an entire year. When I bought Brain Training, I couldn’t put it down until I’d gotten a Brain Age of 20 for 3 months running. There’s something about those games that, despite having no real incentive for me to keep playing, will just keep calling to me and taking over all my gaming time as my list of games to beat just climbs higher and higher.

However, guilty pleasures are something that vary wildly from person to person, especially in gaming. And what’s the best way to make those pleasures not so guilty anymore? By admitting it to the most judging, evil people around. Internet People. With this in mind, I thought that it would be best if I consulted the other GamingLives writers, and coerced them into admitting their own Gaming Guilty Pleasures below.

Gaming for me as a whole is a guilty pleasure but to really hone in on it reveals my greatest sin. I love co-op gaming, I think it’s one of the best things to happen in games and when controller 2 was starting to become a bit of an abstract concept, I started to worry a little that it would be lost forever. Online gaming obviously stepped up to the plate and once we’d all gotten past the stage where we enjoyed nothing more than bashing each other’s brains out, it was great to finally get back to overcoming obstacles together. Xbox live really took off for me in a big way with this one with games such as Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Halo 3 and Gears of War really showing the rest of the world how great it is to play a game with a friend. But this isn’t my guilty pleasure.

That really comes in to play when having already beaten the game in single player, I manage to get together with a friend of mine who prefers playing co-op than slogging through the game on their own. This means I get to waltz my way through a game knowing exactly where every enemy is hiding, how every puzzle is solved and where to be standing, watching, when the big dogs come out to play. I can keep my friend safe without them ever knowing and without even trying. I can tell him to stop at certain points and look over in ‘that’ direction, imagining the look of ‘OMGWTFBBQDISHWASHER’ on his face. And best still, I can come across as an absolute hero the entire time we’re playing. I wouldn’t swap that for anything.

I think my guilty pleasure would have to be MMOs. It’s something that, despite the amount of time they swallow up – ensuring I don’t play any new games for months at a time, I still put myself through.

I’m not sure why I do it to myself, but there’s just something about an MMO that just draws me in, it’s like a sign in a cake shop window that simply says “free cakes, all stock must go”. It’s not just the gameplay aspect I enjoy (character development and so forth) but, once I get into an MMO, it starts to spill over into other areas. I end up reading up on the world’s fiction, I think there’s currently around seven Warcraft books on my shelf, all of which I’ve read more than once. I get engrossed; I shouldn’t do but there’s just something about the MMO world that teases me, it tempts me. And I like it.

Sometimes I cant help but do the most evil things.  In most of those choice based RPGs (Fable, Mass Effect etc) I tend to just play the game as if it was me making the choice rather than playing the whole black and white thing.

That was just an innocent stagecoach... and you saw what I did to that!

My choices tend to lean towards the good but will often take a swing the other way when faced with a big choice, like at the end of Mass Effect 1. I love doing little things when I can get away with it, like slipping a grenade into peoples’ pockets in Fallout 3 or chasing after the man whose car you stole just to run him over. I quite enjoyed shooting NPCs in Red Dead after you have completed their missions, and car piles… I love car piles, just pile up as many things that’ll explode that the game will render, and throw a grenade in then sit back and watch the frame rate drop. I’m also a complete git in online racing games, I wont take people out that are in front but if someone is trying to overtake then they are going into the wall.

I’d say one of my guilty gaming pleasures would be something like Sea Life Safari for XBLA. It is pretty much Pokemon Snap Underwater – mellow, tranquil and real ‘do nothing’ gaming at its best.

Let’s be honest, a game where you do little but take photos of fish isn’t exactly going to set the world alight but, at the end of a stressful day, there was nothing I liked more than sloping off upstairs, kicking back in a comfy chair, and idling through coral reefs and sunken ships, tracking down those elusive shots and golden shells… most of the time I would end up asleep and drooling into my chair – it was that relaxing. Of course, it is light years away from exciting, dynamic titles full of guns, hookers, and headshots, but it’s that game I keep secretly locked in the attic for shame… the one I tell visitors is just the pipes rattling… that there is nothing to really be scared of.

My guilty pleasure, well my greatest, is pointless repetition in order to satiate my desires as a collector. In Oblivion, I had my home in Skingrad kitted out with all of the legendary weapons I could find… making sure that they were themed, of course, so rings would be in one display case and amulets in another. I’d have a room where every surface had an enchanted helm with boots lining the walls. If it was legendary, named, or came from a specific kill whereby there would only be one in the entire game… I kept it. Doesn’t matter how crap it was, I was keeping it and it’d be out on display.

My playthrough of Fallout 3 was the same, with my home in Megaton littered with objets d’art such as the Antagonizer’s helmet, a Deathclaw Gauntlet, even down to silly little things like trinkets from Abraham Lincoln – I just couldn’t bring myself to give them away or sell them. Unfortunately, neither Megaton or Tenpenny Tower had rooms large enough to display the collection and so most of it lurked within filing cabinets and desk drawers. With Borderlands, it took on an entirely different level of insanity. According to the developers, there are a total of 3,166,880 different weapon combinations and that meant there MAY be better weapons available than those already in my backpack. This led to me doing the unthinkable… killing Crawmerax The Invincible (he’s not, you know) over and over again as many as twenty times in one night JUST so I could browse through the weapon drops. On one particular evening I had a total of thirteen kills without clearing the previous weapon drops so the lag was incredible… but the sight itself, moreso. My guilty pleasure is collecting. Unnecessarily.

My guilty pleasure is the good, old-fashioned lemon. By that I mean the cheap and cheerful 4 for £20 bargain basement zesty B-list games that get frozen out because IGN, or somewhere equally busy wanking themselves to death over Gears of Whatever, gave it 6/10.  It’s gotten so bad that every time GameStation do a big pre-owned sale, I’ve generally bought all of it. Sometimes it pays off (Blazing Angels 2, Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom, EDF) and other times it really, really doesn’t (Fantastic Four, FEAR, Beowulf) but for me the pleasure I get in seeing a lemony game do something well is much more than I get from watching a supposed AAA title woo the masses with little more than good presentation and a Nolan fucking North voiceover.

When it comes to gaming I must admit I have a couple of skeletons in the old closet, some well kept secrets that have never seen the light of day, and probably never will. When I was younger I was always the one watching my Dad game, hence why I have such a love for first person shooters. I would spend most evenings after school watching over my Dad’s shoulder as he played games like Wolfenstein, Duke Nukem and Doom. Sure I played them too, but I found that watching my Dad play them was slightly more enjoyable, probably because I was so young and I sucked. This leads me on to one of my biggest gaming guilty pleasures that hasn’t come to light until today.

Back in Uni I found myself in the same situation that I was all those years ago watching my Dad play FPS games, but instead of watching my Dad it was my Uni mate, and instead of an FPS game it was Viva Pinata. Bet you didn’t see that coming. I have no idea why, but I was transfixed by the shiny colours and the sheer variety of animals. The first game seemed more appealing than the sequel and, for some reason, I found myself wanting a small lemur type creature as a pet. With this creature you had to entice into your garden with a moon on a stick. Why did I want it so much? Probably because every now and again it would spin its tail and shout “Woo Woo Woo!”. If you tell anyone about this I will hunt you down… oh wait… it’s now on the internet… *FACEPALM*

So there you go! We here at GamingLives have given you our guiltiest pleasures in gaming. Think you have a better one? Are you able to empathise with us? Do you have your own similar experiences? Before checking in to see a psychiatrist (I know I am!), why not leave a comment below? Nobody’s judging you. Except me. And the Internet.


Last five articles by Edward



  1. Edward Edward says:

    I want to give a massive thank you to everyone involved and who contributed. You guys are awesome, and I couldn’t have done it without you :)

  2. Victor Victor says:

    My guilty pleasure are highscore tables. Xbox Live enabled ones for games that I enjoy playing. If it is a game I like, and I am competent enough at it, I will chip away at it for ages to become numero uno amongst my friends. I once tried to make sure that I was number one in the world, but I soon gave that dream up.

    Interesting to see the gaming profiles of my compadres.

  3. Knikitta says:

    My guilty pleasure’s are a tight squeeze between roleplay in Wow, and them damn addictive Java games on Facebook.

    If I get into my RP, I can be up till 4 or 5am tapping out the words for my character in Warcraft. Many a time Rynstex has had to literally turn my PC off to make me go to bed because I have become engrossed in some story line that my online friends and I have created.

    The Java games are worse, I have burnt so many meals, or missed appointments because of wanting to redecorate my restaurant (Restaurant City) or finally chop down that last pine tree (Frontierville)!

  4. Lorna Lorna says:

    It is interesting to see everyone else’s responses, though a litle worrying to see that I also do some of those things. I also waste time avidly collecting stuff and displaying it in games like Oblivion, when I lose so much time pottering, rather than just playing the damn game that it is criminal!

  5. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I’ve sort of developed a new guilty pleasure, but I can’t go in to it TOO much here as it’s the subject of an upcoming article. It’s modding. I never thought I’d try it, but I did… and I liked it. A little too much. I also dabbled in exploiting glitches, which has had some drastic consequences and that’s for yet another article.

    I really enjoyed reading what everyone else deems their guilty pleasure and none of them were as shocking as I’d expected them to be… except Lorna’s… jeez.

  6. Tania Tania says:

    Hmmmm, mine would have to be leveling up characters by repeatedly running into enimies over and over and over again. Back and forth across maps and in and out of rooms. The story gets put on hold while I “Train”. I like to blast through enemies and bosses with a few taps from my stupidly strong little creatures or team of RPGers. I just can’t help myself! The hours I’ve spent slaughtering virtual monsters is off the charts! More experience points! More levels! Must get stronger! Just a little more! :)

  7. Edward Edward says:

    Hehe, thanks for all the additional guilty pleasures everyone and thanks for reading :)

    It makes me wonder why we do it all, and its probably something I should have covered in more depth. Is it just an escape, or is it really something we can’t explain why we do it?

  8. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Oh I can answer that one without hesitation… I have an obsessive personality. Simple.

  9. Adam Adam says:

    I am guilty of so much of what everyone else has put up too. I horde shit in Oblivion thats either worthless in value or to important to throw away. I literally would keep the first dagger I used and store it as a collectible in Skingrad too and then spend ages making sure its angled properly in the case (which went to hell normally when i closed it up).

    Grinding too! I will literally stand there in one spot on a RPG/MMO with a calculator, a pen, a stopwatch and a 2 litre bottle of Lucozade just smashing away at the same mob’s, maximising my XPpm (XP per minute) and swearing blind to anyone else that this is quicker than spending time faffing about doing quests. In WoW I literrally did Level 59-60 stood in one spot in EPL just tagging mobs to me and letting my pet do the rest of the work -it’s kinda sad consdiering the effort that goes into creating some of the quests but once I get it in my head that this is a better option, I can’t stop myself.

    Probably the very best example was in IceWind Dale II. As was with BG, you could export your characters and re-import them to any save. This was really done so that you could bring your characters with you into other peoples games but the way I saw that was to literally cycle my character through one process. Whilst the distance between levels grew, the XP reward for mobs and quests remained constant so I could rack up a bunch of completed Quests, save it, export, load, import, hand in, export, reload the origional save, import the character who arguably already completed the quest, hand in the quest, export, reload….

    Sickening, clever? I don’t know, either way I was max level before I left the games Prologue, not quite what Black Isle had in mind.

    Lemony games too, I picked up Viking: Battle for Asgard last year. Thats a shiny, well polished lemon (being the work of the minds behind Total War), but it’s still a lemon. It wasn’t bad, but it was far from brilliant. You spend most of the game complaining and asking why this can’t do that and how much cooler it would be if they’d thought to do this, but you still play it! To the end! I even 1000/1000 the game too, it wasn’t overly challenging but it wasn’t easy either.

    Great Collation Ed, though the opening? Thats just damned scary dude!

Leave a Comment