Destructoid, I come to you with a confession and a problem.
First, the confession, which, if you know me or read anything I've written, comes as no confession at all: I love role-playing games. Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Lost Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, just about anything where I take control of a group of world saving stereotypes I love. Give me a story-based grindfest over a twitch happy first-person shooter anyday. I've invested days to weeks to months of my life grinding through epic storyline after epic storyline, from side-quests to minibosses to the final battles, I've fought and loved them all. However, with this massive log of time comes a problem.
I can't play role-playing games with other people in the room.
I don't know when I developed this problem, or even if it's a problem, but I do know that it cripples my advancement in games with effeminate main characters, spiky hair, and an unwavering teenager's commitment to save the world. With or without annoying teammates, it doesn't matter, I just can't quite figure out what's going on in my mind when I'm set up playing my long-term investment game and someone else walks in and says, "Hey, what'cha playing?"
Now, I know it's not an embarrasment thing, as I've made an ass of myself plenty of times playing Rock Band and Wario Ware. And it's not that I'm ashamed to be playing them either, because games like Katamari Damacy and the LEGO series of games aren't exactly the manliest games to be playing when other's come over are they? So what is it that bothers me so much about someone else being in the room that I always end up either turning the game off or switching to something else?
Maybe it's that the other person in the room isn't as invested as me in the game. Maybe it's that the other person ALWAYS
decides to ask, "So what's this about?" Maybe it's that I'm ALWAYS
twenty plus hours in the story and don't feel like explaining the massive amount of backstory up to the point where I'm at. It's like trying to explain a new episode of Lost to someone who hasn't seen the show before, and is very skeptical of things outside the norm. As someone who has actually tried to do this before, it just doesn't work. Skeptical expressions turn into an 'I can't believe you're playing/watching this drivel' expressions in a blink of an eye. And I guess if you come into such a long story anywhere but the beginning, and experience everything that has been offered up to that point, you're just not going to appreciate it as much.
And maybe that's it. Maybe it's not crushing lonliness that drives me in my quest to play through RPG's, maybe it's my desire to see a story told in game form and someone else can't just walk in and experience that the same way I am. It's akin to reading a novel, or watching a long, plot driven movie, and having someone try to get the feel for where you're at by deduction(if you're lucky) or by explanation(if you're a regular person and know mostly stupid people). And that drives me crazy. So I'd rather just not do it while they're there, as opposed to taking thirty or forty minutes sitting them down and going over the story so they'll feel like they understand what's going on, even if in the long run they don't really understand or care.
But maybe that's not it. What if it's the result of, when someone is around, always playing either a two-player game or a 'pass-the-controller' kind of game(i.e. GTA, Crackdown), and that's so ingrained in my mind that having a game where I'm being watched constantly and can't return the awkwardness of backseat gaming them just affects me so profoundly that I can't even fight straight? Playing a RPG does take a lot more concentration than most people think, be it following the story, planning out and delivering a course of attack, or deciding where to go next. You have to actually be able to lose yourself in the game (in my opinion at least) to be able to enjoy yourself fully. And that is horribly disrupted when you add conversation, or even the presence of someone else around me.
So, to make a long story short, I abhor people around me when I'm RPG-ing like nature abhors a vacuum. It may be perception related, or short-attention span related, but it just doesn't work with me. I liken it to the fact that if anyone disturbs you when you're doing something that you're fully vested in (i.e. reading, watching a movie), and you get distracted, it takes away from the experience that you're having, and removes you from the game.