Name: Brendan Holben — Reviewer / Contributor
Worst Sin: I “savescum” to ensure I always get the best outcome
“Clementine will remember that.” Four words that strike dread through the heart of any gamer. Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series is packed with difficult, narrative altering decisions that have immediate or distant impacts on characters and the story. So what do I do when I make a decision I immediately regret? “Crap crap crap crap *mashing escape* crap don’t autosave crap crap.” Yep, I go for a do-over – otherwise known as “savescumming.” It’s not cheating, per-se, but it’s not far removed from taking a dive in the penalty box. When I play choice-based games I always try for a perfect run first go, which means I often need to do a little editing along the way. Strategy games such as Crusader Kings II and XCOM: Enemy Unknown get a similar treatment – no soldier’s dying on my watch, damn it!
Why the pedantic micromanagement? I guess it goes back to how we each play and why we play video games. For me, it’s about finding the “best” ending, winning absolutely, and of course making sure Clementine is ok. Telltale’s The Waking Dead and The Wolf Among Us series are the most recent games of this type I’ve played and I found myself instinctively backing out of choices and taking a mulligan on critical decisions. Maybe that’s the joy of interactive entertainment: you don’t have to live the choices you make, but you can if you’d like. If you’re not a filthy savescummer like me, the Telltale games offer a unique storytelling challenge as significant decisions and most conversation choices are timed, leaving the fate of your story up to your impulsions. I, on the other hand, just want what’s best for my digital playthings.
Name: Shane Smith — Creative Director
Worst Sin: I shamelessly “button-bash” to win at fighting games
I have to say this, and finally reveal my darkest video gaming secret – I am, and forever will be, a “button-basher!” In a perfect world, I probably should reserve my time to study and master some of the characters move-sets before I start playing a fighting game, but seriously, I can’t be bothered! I recall this careless control-handing started around the release of Soul Calibur; once I loaded up the game, I just wanted to play it without any precincts. I gave up on ever revising the special moves list, and instead just went out swinging my weapon recklessly.
With that said, I’ve gone this far without training myself and have chalked up many victories with my button-destroying skills – completing Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, Tekken and the Mortal Kombat series, to name a few. So why should I change that trend now? I still remain victorious when performing my button-throttling methods against experienced players in multiplayer, and whenever I jump on Xbox Live for some competition on Killer Instinct, I can perform a 20 hit combo without the knowledge of how! “Button-bashing” is my video gaming sin and I will by no means be ashamed of it. My play-style will endlessly be unchanged as it hasn’t hindered me thus far. So, with that I welcome whatever random maneuver that comes out of my frenzied button thumbing that gets me to victory and relish in triumph!
Name: Patrick Waring — Executive Editor
Worst Sin: I can’t resist trash-talking while playing multiplayer
We’re all guilty of doing a lot of crappy things in gaming, at one point or another, and I’m certainly no different from the rest of this despicable bunch (except for you, Nick). There’s one thing I’ve carried with me, however, throughout my life and haven’t been able to shake it: I love me some trash talking. I keep it offline, since I at least have the good graces not to verbally spar off with preteens who’ve only just learned how to swear, but damned if I’m not going to freak out on you if you even think about doing something as stupid as winning. God help you if you do it more than once, knob-jockey, because then it gets personal.
I’m fully aware that trash talking is just the worst if for no other reason than the fine line between “harmless fun” and “graphic descriptions of your mother” is so quickly crossed. Once it’s out there, it can’t be pulled back either, opening the floodgates for insults, slurs, angry gibberish (which can only be interpreted as some heinous combination of those first two) and my personal favorite: Hardline statements made in the heat of the moment. Even if I don’t know you, a total stranger to me in every sense and we happen to be playing games together, I won’t hesitate to tell you how I feel. This one time I told some guy at a Smash Bros. tourney, after he killed me but once, that I hated him. Yeah.
If I get bent out of shape enough, things just get crazy. I noticed that whenever my fiance would complain she was losing while playing games, her luck would suddenly turn around and (more often than not) would kick my ass. She is a witch, she knows it too… at least, I’m pretty sure she heard me before she left the room.
Name: Mary Woo — Reviewer / Contributor
Worst Sin: I struggle to complete games because I’m a perfectionist
I was pretty stumped when trying to choose my worst “sin” in gaming. I don’t think I do too many bad things while I’m playing, at least, I don’t think so? However, tonight I picked up my 3DS and found that I was in the midst of the perfect thing without even realising it.
The cart currently sitting in my 3DS is a copy of Pokémon X. A game I have owned since a week after it was released. After purchasing it, I played fervently, and yet to this day I still have not beaten it. Why, you may ask? Because my worst gaming sin is resetting in attempts to get good statistics for Pokémon. I did it at the beginning of the game when you get your two starters, at the time I was only grinding for ideal natures, which affect the statistical growth of your Pokémon as it levels up. It wasn’t too bad at the time, I don’t think I spent much more than a couple of hours because I knew that they could still be bred later in order to get better stats. Due to how important starter pokemon tend to be in a party, at least early on, I really wanted them to be somewhat formidable.
The REAL reason why I still haven’t completed the game, though, is Xerneas – the legendary pokemon of Pokémon X. It’s a once off Pokémon and cannot be bred. As a result, I wanted the BEST. I know logically that I should just catch it and move on, but the need for perfection is holding me back. Perhaps one day I will overcome this obstacle by finding the perfect specimen or be strong enough to move on with my life, but until then … “Charizard, I choose you!”
Name: Nicholas Ballantyne — Senior Editor
Worst Sin: I use a “GG button.” A lot.
Think about it for a second: Who has a GG button? Like, who legitimately, actually, physically, in their house OWNS a GG button, let alone USES it? What kind of human being, so depraved from the world of speech, so unabashedly proud of their own presence in the VoIP chat ever feels the need to express themselves through slamming their fist into a solidly constructed plastic container of tinny, ear-piercing audio, solely to announce their dominance over whoever was unfortunate enough to receive the pre-recorded message? The annoying guy, that’s who.
I acquired the device a few years ago as a birthday present, and from that point on, my life has been enriched by its presence. Won that match of TF2? GG! Got a good grade on a uni assignment? GG! Talked to an attractive person without vomiting on their (presumably) expensive clothes? GG!!! As my life became a perpetual victory parade, everyone around me began shaming me for my obnoxious celebrations. With each shrill that emanated from that tiny speaker, twenty disappointed groans of judgement would inevitably be hurled towards me. Indeed, the stigma lives on to this day…
Perhaps my dramatics are wholly unwarranted, but owning this GG button seems to be as respected as owning a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. Every time I use the damn thing, the only people who don’t scorn me are the ones who own GG buttons too. Even people online lay the hate on me for using it, so I’m left feeling like owning it goes against the very will of God… But surely he’d GG with me, right? Well, I don’t care, because I god damn love this thing, and if using it is wrong, then transmigrate me beyond realms of Amenti because I can’t stop.
Name: Daniel Tyler — Reviewer / Contributor
Worst Sin: I look to the internet for answers whenever I’m feeling lazy
We’re all guilty of a lot of sins – “savescumming,” over selling a game, or not playing a game for a childish reason. However, I think the worse sin I’ve committed is one that only effects myself and robs me of my own experience – giving up on the hunt and hitting the net. I’ve done this more times than I can count, and it’s one I hate myself for. I chalk it up to my OCD, but really, that’s just me trying to make up excuses to justify myself of an enriching experience.
Allow me to explain. I’ve done this with many games, but one series in particular gets me the most – Assassin’s Creed. No matter how hard you’ll try, and even when you think you’ve explored every corner of the surrounding area, you’ll finish and realise that the chapter is still only 90% complete. Okay, sure, I could jump back in and have another hunt, but that’s going to take time… Or, I could play the section with a wiki already pointing out all the directions.
In my defence, I made a rule that I would only do it for the optional missions or secrets, and only after giving it the “old college try.” And yet, I’d still have this guilt; did I really earn “that sword” or “that achievement?” Sure, I got there and completed the challenge, but if it wasn’t for radic1235 on a random forum out there, would I have actually found it?
Name: Bernadette Russell — Senior Reporter
Worst Sin: I enjoy making “renegade” choices, and then lying about it.
Which would you build – an orphanage for needy children or a brothel that would bring in required profits? Unless you’re a grade A douche, you’d likely build the orphanage. At the same time, though, you could also reason that its just a game, and who says you have to divulge your choices to other people anyway?
My guilty pleasure has always been getting away with things I’d never do in real life, and I blame Link’s chicken kicking for starting it. Whenever I jump into a game with choices and consequences, I always start out righteous…but then I’d have to try out the evil way too; which is usually the most fun way, in my opinion.
Every time I make an immoral choice though, I felt guilty about it, and if someone were to ask me about my choices, I’d always lie and only mention the good ones. However, my ruse finally came tumbling down the other day after telling my better half that I’d saved everyone in Dragon Age: Awakening – when really, I’d selfishly sacrificed the city to save my precious keep. With my dignity intact, I had started playing a new game of Dragon Age 2 with my previous save-game imported; while he also just so happened to be watching me play. And then it happened, an NPC, as loud and clearly as possible, blurted out about how my Grey Warden had heartlessly let the city of Amaranthine burn. Well, this just got awkward. I suppose now is as good a time as any to confess that I also built the brothel… Don’t judge me.
Name: Tim Sezer — Reviewer / Contributor
Worst Sin: I used to hammer the “F5 key” like it was going out of fashion
I’m horribly scroogy in any single player game I play through; several PC builds ago (yes, that’s a recognised unit of time) when I played through Half Life 1 I was hammering that F5 key like it was going out of fashion. Take two steps, quicksave, pick up health, quicksave, shoot an enemy… Could I have killed that enemy with fewer bullets? Quickload. Uh-oh, I lost a whole 3 hit points that time, better quickload again… This would go on for a good 20 minutes until I was completely satisfied with the outcome of one single confrontation. No wonder it took me a good six months to finish Half Life 1 back in the day. This mentality however caused me a great deal of cognitive dissonance when Soldier of Fortune eventually rolled around with a LIMITED quicksave feature on the more advanced difficulty settings… So naturally, I didn’t play those. This also extended into some console titles, as when I got my hands on Yoshi’s Story, being unable to bear the thought of losing a single Yoshi I would reset my console every time I died. Luckily for me, the game was extraordinarily forgiving of chronic failure and essentially offered a level-by-level save feature.
I could never quite understand the appeal in console shooters, mainly for the reason of having no quicksave/quickload options handy. How on earth could I appease my hard wired sociopathic OCD-laced savescumming tendencies? Something eventually snapped in my mind, and when I made the big migration to console gaming towards the end of ’04 with the purchase of a Gamecube, I realised there were some things more important than savescumming your way through games – playing games for good old fashioned enjoyment with mates.
Name: William Kirk — Editor-in-Chief
Worst Sin: I often purchase games and then never get around to playing them
I think this is one “sin” which likely applies most of us; especially those who have ever been roped in by a Steam Sale. Honestly, how many games have you personally purchased that never get a second look after the rush of an impulse buy? For me, it’s a hell of a lot. However, the sin here is not so much the money which is perceived to be wasted on buying these games, but rather all the incredible experiences hidden beneath our noses, begging to be played.
Recently, I started a series called “Pile of Shame” to motivate myself to play and write about some of these games which have been sitting around gathering dust. In some cases, these were big games I had simply missed, whereas others were lesser known games which I had been interested to try out and never did. What I quickly learned was how much I had been missing out on by jumping to the next big game without stopping to look at what I already had.
While it’s exciting to pursue the evolution of gaming with each new generation, I’d argue that, at this point in time, there are better games out there that you’ve missed. I’d also be willing to bet that there is at least one great game in your collection right now which you’ve yet to play. In turn, I’d urge you to double check your library when you next go to play something, because not playing that one game may just be the biggest “sin” you’ve ever been guilty of.