Title says it all. When I get into a game, moderation just goes right out the window. It becomes either do or die and I won't rest easy until I've BEAT the damn game.
I don't mean "beat" as in, get to the final stage and kill the boss. Oh no, I mean more like, beat the last boss, unlock the hard mode, beat that, unlock the super hard challenge mode, and obsess over it for weeks until I beat that too, and unlock all the secret characters and easter eggs and hidden challenges while I'm at it.
Games back then had a simplicity which curbed this dangerous addictive behavior. Take for instance my favorite childhood game - Streets of Rage 2. I mean, once you beat it on easy, normal, and hard, it's over. Games nowadays, however, seem to come standard with at least 5 different difficulty levels, plus bonus stages, plus unlockable extra stages, PLUS a plethora of achievements.
Achievements are both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because it gives me a reason to replay the same damn thing over and over just so I can see the bright shiny words "You have earned the achievement - [insert some pointless menial repetitive in-game task, such as kill 20,000 boars for no reason]!". It's also a curse because it gives me a reason to replay the same damn thing over and over. For hours. And then obsess over it and scour online resources when I get stuck on a certain challenge.
Now with games like WoW, you obviously can't just "beat" it. But I think I've come pretty damn close to it, at least when it comes to parts of the game I enjoy. I don't pvp and I really haven't begun to "beat" that aspect of the game, but when it comes to pve...I've killed every damn raid boss multiple times, acquired all sorts of high end gear, and unlocked all sorts of stupid, pointless achievements. Need I reiterate about that time I spent 6 months getting the insane title? Yeah, that sort of thing is only possible when you have an insanely OCD/completionist mentality like mine.
And then there are cute little iPad games that are not meant to draw the hardcore gamers, but appeal to a more broad range of interests. They do have a start and a finish. There are a few difficulty levels and some achievements, but once you beat it all, you really are done.
These are the games that are truly dangerous. Being able to see the end in sight just means that I obsess that much more over it. I have been known to get up in the middle of the night and just spontaneously start playing games on the iPad because my own disturbed thoughts about how to get that one hard achievement woke me up from much-needed sleep. Handing me the iPad is like giving an alcoholic a bottle of moonshine.
Take for instance my Plants VS Zombies addiction that lasted almost a whole year. I played that damn game so many times, I must have killed about a million zombies. I first played it on an iPod, then moved on to the PC platform, where they gave you even more gameplay modes! Not only did I play through the entire campaign over 5 times, I unlocked every single plant, every single upgrade, every single bonus game & play mode, and beat every single one of those too. Oh, and I got all the achievements. Every. Fucking. Achievement. This kind of behavior is pretty much standard whenever I find a game I like.
I remember I played diner dash for like 10 hours straight one day. And that's not even something to brag about! A game like WoW I can at least go brag to my guildies and fellow gamers, "look at this achievement I got!" or "look at this sweet epic drop!". I will not be telling my friends, coworkers and loved ones, "hey I just beat all the minigames in PvZ!".
Sometimes I'm worried about this vicious cycle. But then again, sometimes I'm glad that at least I'm not addicted to worse things, like cocaine or hookers.