‘Playing by my own rules’: why going rogue in games is more fun
As someone who is an only child I’ve always been very fond of my own company, and I think that mindset transferred into my gaming habits. I have always been a fan of single-player games that I can approach at my own pace and I think that is where my love of open-world games stems from. Many associate gaming with a sense of escapism and freedom, and the ability to invent your own rules was always a huge part of this for me. I would always attempt to follow the set missions and guided instructions on how to play, but would find the most joy in going rogue and exploring the true scope of the game.
The true beauty of [The Sims] was the complete freedom to play however I wanted to
Growing up I was a huge fan of The Sims, and it is still the game I find myself gravitating towards. The true beauty of it was the complete freedom to play however I wanted to, where my way of playing could be completely divergent from another player. Despite this seeming freedom, there are definitely set goals within The Sims – they are just more covert than other games. For example, each Sim is given a lifetime wish, ranging from becoming a ‘world-renowned surgeon’ to ‘living in the lap of luxury’. These wishes encourage a player to aim to reach the top of a career, earn a certain amount of money, or successfully raise a family. Despite this, I have devoted weeks of my life to this game and I don’t think I have ever completed one of these lifetime wishes.
Actually, to simply play with the aim of completing these goals narrows what is such an expansive game. Fans have clocked on to the limitations of these goals and consequently create their own challenges. Probably the more famous ones include the ‘100 Babies Challenge’ or the ‘Rags to Riches Challenge’. These are fan-made challenges, with their own sets of rules and guidelines – and there are hundreds available on the internet. These ‘made up’ missions showcase the full stretch of The Sims in a way that the set goals of the games don’t even begin to explore. However, their true brilliance is how adaptable they are. Since they have no true connection to the game’s development, you can adapt them depending on what kind of player you are. This means you can take on these challenges and bend the rules to ensure full enjoyment.
There is a real beauty in stripping a game of its achievements and just playing with freedom
Moving away from The Sims, even games with more rigid aims become much more replayable when there is an open world setting and you begin to explore. One game I truly fell in love with in late 2022 was Hitman. When I first played the game I simply completed the missions, assassinating my targets and moving through the linear story. Then I attempted the harder missions, such as doing the whole mission in your starting suit, or raising no suspicion from NPCs (a task which for most is extremely difficult and requires practice after practice). Eventually, I just started wandering around the map and seeing how many different disguises I could acquire and how easily I could blend in. My amusement increased tenfold. Seeing Agent 47 dressed as a fortune teller wondering around Marrakesh, or throwing explosive rubber ducks off of rooftops was miles more entertaining than trying to sneak past the hundreds of armed guards in Colorado – and I was seemingly a lot better at it.
The more you explore the full extremities of a map you realise it is exactly how the developers want you to play, hence why there is so much to find. Game makers add easter eggs and interactions that you would never find if you just played the game in a linear fashion, and there is as much satisfaction in finding these as there is in completing in-game missions. There is a real beauty in stripping a game of its achievements and just playing with freedom. The removal of a sense of completion means there is always more to do, and therefore the game never ends. Gaming for me has always been about relaxation, allowing me to forget about stress in my life – and by playing by my own rules, I find that comfort I crave.