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Bad habits we developed in video games

Going fast

Enough of this story exposition, we just want to get to the action. Lets just mash the A button until we--wait. What was that last bit of dialogue? Were staring at a loading screen. What just happened? Did we just skip a provocative cutscene? The games auto-saving, and we cant go back. Greaaat. Now well never know whether or not Commander Shepard confessed his love for Asari sweethearts.

Taking it slow

Slow and steady wins the race, especially in virtual life-or-death situations. Inching forward bit by bit is your best bet, so not a single bad guy could possibly get the jump on you. Then you realize that youve been killing the same two respawning enemies 10 times over. Screw this; were just going to abuse post-hit invincibility to charge through to the end of the level.

Quick Saving every step of the way

Save, and save often: You never know when youll want to undo the last thirteen seconds of inefficiently depleting your ammo. With just a tap of the F9 keyor was it F6? Whoops--we just got nailed in the head while fumbling for the right key. No matter, well just--no.

Oh please no.

Our latest, accidental Quick Save now forces us to hopelessly relive the same horrifically fatal head trauma again and again, or restart the entire level. F our lives.

Focusing on one thing at a time

Each Space Marine is like a precious jewel. After going through boot camp, equipping some new armor upgrades, and developing an addiction to the recreational use of stim-paks, hes finally ready to take on the horrors of stellar war. His Marauder and Medivac buddies are all here too. Theres no way the enemy can take down this mobile ball of death; well just carefully advance across the map, making sure to keep focused on our units lest we lose them to a surprise attack. So focused, in fact, that we completely neglected the fact that our home base was being wiped out by a handful of units in a dropship. GG.

Trying to power-level through grinding

Used to be, the key to leveling quickly in MMOs was good ol fashioned grinding. Forget those quest hubs--youre better off killing heaps of respawning enemies in the wilderness to boost your experience bar. But that was then; nowadays, most MMOs follow World of Warcrafts example by putting a premium on questing as the means to level up. This reality might only sink in when you come to the horrifying realization that the one quest you just turned in was worth twice as much XP as the 60 minutes you spent slaying random wolf-things.

Thinking that co-op always makes things more fun

Streets of Rage, Turtles in Time, and The Simpsons Arcade make the world feel like a utopia of video game cooperation, where we can joyously skip through the fields hand-in-hand with our pals. But sometimes, harsh reality sets in. Sure, your buddies can occasionally be jerks and purposely try to frustrate you by playing poorly. But far worse are the moments when you realize theyre not doing it as a joke--theyre just legitimately bad at games. The awkwardness of trying to stay encouraging during your friends repeated failures will haunt you for the rest of your days.

Believing that achievements are worth something

What is it about Gamerscore and Trophies that compels us? Were not sure--but if we stopped to think about it, wed probably plummet into a crippling depression. All those hours spent looking for worthless bonus trinkets. All those E-rated games we blew through in a weekend. All the Insane difficulties we put ourselves through--for the sole purpose of boosting our pointless tallies above those of our peers. And Microsofts rebate rewards are almost a mockery of its most devout Achievement acolytes, giving them a whopping 2 percent savings on XBLA purchases. That translates to 30 cents off a $15 game. Yaaay.

Smashing everything in the environment

Its not like were hiding a malevolent desire to destroy everything around us. Its just that you never really know what magical treasures might be hiding in the next clay pot. Will it be a rupee? A health item? Absolutely nothing at all? Only one way to find out, even if it adds 20 minutes of time-wasting, OCD-fueled tedium to our gameplay. And lets not even think about the poor potter whose lifes work was smashed to pieces, all for the slim chance at finding the gaming equivalent of a penny.

Not letting the game beat us

Perseverance always pays off. But have you ever noticed the effects that frustration has on your gameplay? With each mind-numbing death, you start to value life that much less. Eventually, your apathy dooms the games hero to an unending, cyclical torment of gruesome annihilation followed by futile rebirth. Is the game getting harder? No, you're getting worse. Turn the game off, go make a sandwich, take a walk, play with your pets. We promise that tricky level will still be there when you get back.

Always hitting the ground running

Stand still, and youre as good as dead. So the second you spawn in modern-day multiplayer, sprint directly ahead in search of an enemy. Theres no time to notice the significant plummet of your kill-death ratio, or clue in to the fact that youre feeding the other team points like a forever-fumbling quarterback. Because every time you get sniped by a long-range attacker, it feels 10 times worse than a game consisting entirely of haphazard close-quarters combat.