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What's the most meaningless thing you've done in a videogame?

It's all about the little nothings

There's been a lot of games about hoarding stuff lately, a lot of games where "what?" isn't as important as "how many?" Darksiders 2 throws you a new flavour of gauntlet, scythe or cape every five seconds, burying some serviceable combat mechanics beneath a mighty hummock of unlockables. Borderlands 2 is an inexhaustible font of swiftly-obsolete guns, each gaudier than the last, and when Assassin's Creed 3 isn't recreating the fall of British colonialism, it's ordering you to run around collecting eagle feathers and lumps of rabbit.

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I don't care much for this sort of thing, personally. I'd much rather developers spent time and effort making a single tool flexible and fun to use, as is the case with Dishonored's Blink ability, rather than splurging on a bunch of meaningless little gimmicks or collectables. This kind of designwork is disturbingly well-suited to that brand of commercial thinking that would break a game up into dozens of over-priced nuggets, but more pressingly, it's boring and disempowering. What's the use of collecting a new gun, when you know there's a marginally better one round the corner? Since when was the act of gathering the point of gathering? And so on and so forth.

The trouble is, ranting about "meaningfulness" in videogames is a recipe for falling flat on your face. Most games are composed of actions that, from a certain point of view, don't mean a damn. Achievements, for instance. I've been fixated on buttressing my paltry Gamerscore since joining OXM, to the point that I begin to lose interest in outstanding titles after a couple of hours, just because I know the initial, easy Achievements have been overcome. Then there are combos: why do it in 100+ hits when you can do it in one? And giving your multiplayer Spartan character a new paint job in Halo 4. And completing quests that are below your level, even though you know you're going to get 1 XP from it (thanks Matt). And picking the pendant as your Gift in Dark Souls.

So let me convert this little tantrum about creative vacuity into a celebration of the little (no)things that somehow make our games enjoyable. What's the most meaningless thing you've ever done in a videogame? Assuming we get enough replies, I'll add the comment that makes me wince the most to the article text.

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