The Woes of a Directionally Challenged Gamer


Uh…we’re flying north, right? Or East? Err…

Humans are amazing creatures who can compensate for any shortcoming they have in impressive and creative ways. Those who are blind somehow manage to find their way around despite the fact that vision is one of the most important senses for navigation. No matter what age you lose your sight at, your brain is able to partially rewire itself to compensate for this loss to allow for safe navigation. Isn’t that amazing? Then why am I, an able person with vision better than 20/20, so utterly hopeless at finding anything in both the real world and the virtual world?

I have a terrible sense of direction that naturally carries over to when I’m playing video games.  Unless there’s an obnoxious glowing arrow pointing in the direction I have to go, I’m prone to getting completely turned around. Hell, I still get turned around even when the most obvious of wayfinding arrows try their best to guide me in the right direction. As a result, some games become ridiculously difficult purely because I can’t manage to find where I’m supposed to go. There have been times I had to just quit a game because getting around was just so tedious and I couldn’t enjoy it anymore.

For example, I recently played Persona Q, a dungeon crawler where you go through an entire labyrinth without a map. In fact, you have to draw your own map as you progress through the dungeon. Can you imagine my horror at the concept? I just wanted to play another Persona game, but I was being forced to jot down every nook and cranny I was exploring. While this probably did improve my memory of the maze’s layout in the long run, it also gave me a massive headache and made exploring a chore. Drawing a map is optional in the same way that breathing is also optional: you don’t have to do it, but…you kinda do. This made exploring a dungeon feel more like extra homework I had to complete, and I inevitably gave up on completing the game.


The final “map” I drew before quitting

So we’ve established that I have no sense of direction, which is a big problem. The bigger problem, in actuality, is that I have no sense of direction and I love exploring.

My love for exploring and my tendency to get lost seems like a horrible combination, like if you enjoyed tropical beaches but were also a snowman. However, I think this can really work in games, because there’s no penalty for taking extra time and exploring new places. That’s why I really like games where they encourage you to explore areas at your leisure, in any order you want to. There’s no need to refer to a map, because you get to go wherever you want. Getting lost is part of the experience, and can actually be rewarding when you uncover hidden areas you never would have found if you stayed on the beaten path.


To be honest, this topic was really just a guise to talk about how much I love exploring in Xenoblade Chronicles X, the soul sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles (which I also loved exploring, as you can see from my last post about it!).  The world of Xenoblade Chronicles X is lush and full of nooks and crannies to explore. Much like I explained in my post on the first game, it also rewards players for exploring. You get experience points and sometimes money for every new area you uncover, and you get extra bonuses for finding more obscure, scenic vistas. It’s a great system that basically wants you to get lost and run around aimlessly, which is a dream come true for me. Now, if I get completely sidetracked trying to find the location for my next quest, I might end up with the positive result of finding a new area with an amazing view of the rivers and wildlife below (and also extra cashmoney$$$$).

I long for more games that let you explore anywhere you want at your own pace, so that mapping things out isn’t as important. Of course, it’s inevitable that video games will require some sort of moving from point A to point B, but I feel it should be up to the player to decide where they go and when. At the very least, I don’t want to be punished for not being good at navigating (Persona Q, I’m looking at you) to the point where I don’t even want to play anymore. Give me some option where I can find things easier so the hardcore players can ignore it while me, with my inability to tell left from right, can rely on it. But alas, not every game can cater to my directionally challenged needs, so I imagine that I’ll continue to get lost in video games from now until the end of time. Let’s hope I find some neat places in the process though!


Time for an unrelated announcement!

I wasn’t sure where I could announce this without making a separate post (which would be way too conspicuous) so here we go: I will now be writing Featured Articles for MyAnimeList alongside my usual aniblogging here at Metanorn! I figured there was no better way to announce that I’m writing editorials for another site…than writing an editorial just for Metanorn. I’m still very flattered that MAL specifically looked to Metanorn for a potential writer, and I’m excited to see how this experience improves my skills as a writer. I’m already brainstorming all sorts of post ideas…and the ones that don’t fit in with MAL will end up here on Metanorn. If you want, feel free to follow my posts on MAL, such as my first one about the innerworkings of the “illness” known as Chuunibyou.

Thanks for your support!


A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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16 Responses to “The Woes of a Directionally Challenged Gamer”

  1. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Kerbal Space Program! For Science!

  2. BlackBriar says:

    In games today, especially those that deal in open world gameplay, it’s an indispensable asset to have a map pinned to the far end of the screen. After a while, if I feel I’m walking around and seeing places that look too much alike, I just mark my destination and travel by watching my position on the map while ignoring everything else. I play a lot of open world games, most of them from franchises. From the Batman: Arkham games (Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, Arkham Origins and Arkham Knight) to inFAMOUS (The first two, Festival of Blood, Second Son and First Light) to Assassin’s Creed (Too numerous to mention) and I’m currently playing the latest game Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Then again, we’re PSN friends so you’re able to see all that played looking at my trophy list.

    It’s because maps are so necessary that I fall into despair running into games that don’t have one unless you’re pushing only in a single direction. Much like the dread I endured playing the remastered version of the first Kingdom Hearts (Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Final Mix) on PS3. I couldn’t tell where the hell I was going and most of the time reached the right place by chance. I got to get back to playing it since it’s been a while.

    Apart from that, I do my exploring after finishing one mission before starting another. Chances are you get helpful surprises.

    Side note: That aside, congratulations on getting scouted for editorial projects on MAL. You’ve already shown to have the knack for it thanks to your previous editorials over the past few years on Metanorn. I saw your article on Chuunibyou. If it is an “illness”, it might be a byproduct of being an anime fan. If I see an editorial on anime fan’s or Japan’s fascination in general with vampires, I’ll peg you as the prime suspect. 😛

    • Overcooled says:

      Yeah, I rely a lot on the map and I hate having to just stare at a minimap in the corner instead of an exciting new world. :/ But it’s better than games that have no maps whatsoever because then unless I have a laptop or my phone on the side looking up a guide then I’m cooked.

      Thanks BB! It was a position I was pretty excited for since I like writing editorials but don’t always have time to stop and brainstorm about topics. Now I’m more motivated than ever to get some posts rolling out. I’ll leave the talk about vampires to you, the expert lol

      • Highway says:

        I just couldn’t think of any editorial topics I wanted to opine on that wouldn’t get me absolutely roasted if it got into the wrong twittersphere.

      • BlackBriar says:

        Yeah, you end up relying on the map because the place is so big and at a point, everything starts looking all the same then disorientation ensues.

        Good luck on your editorial conquests. Just take it slow and don’t burn yourself out. Your “Playing Doctor” posts were great.

        I’ll leave the talk about vampires to you, the expert lol

        Ah, you’re too kind, OC. I already considered myself the unofficial authority around here but that really hit a soft spot. I swear, though. If I ever had to write an editorial on vampires, especially in anime, I wouldn’t know where to start. I’d make it a joint one and invite IreneSharda on it. We’d start a re-education revolution and convert everyone to our side! 😛

  3. akagami says:

    I hear you on getting lost! When I used to play mmorpgs, and discovered the joy of dual monitors (i.e. game on one screen, map/wiki on the other), it was like night and day. No more getting lost!

    Congrats on getting a blogging post on MAL! I never really use MAL (prefer AniDB), so never knew they had articles there.

    • Overcooled says:

      Haha, for PC games I would do that sometimes too. Even then I’d get headaches looking back and forth though…

      Thanks! I…actually didn’t know they had articles either to be honest. Which is odd since I use MAL a lot to keep track of what I’m watching and even to write our season preview guides. I’ve been missing out!

      • BlackBriar says:

        You really weren’t aware of the articles on MAL? If I recall correctly, those began Fall season last year and they keep coming en masse for various topics.

  4. Highway says:

    You’re one of the ones who make my life so difficult in raid leading!!! “Summon OC, she’s lost in the instance again!” “No, your other left!” “Don’t run the fire that way!”


    Seriously, there are some people that just never go the right way, even to the point of going to exactly the wrongest spot possible every time.

    And I’m not counting the guy who is picked on by the WoW devs, and gets sent random places when he goes through a portal. We’re all in Highmaul, and he’s in Darnassus, and we all went in the portal together.

    • Overcooled says:

      LOL I guess you have someone in your raid who is consistently as bad as me at navigating. We’d be a great combo. Although I think I’m decent at following parties in multiplayer games if they’re within sight because then I don’t even have to think about where I’m going.

      Poor guy. I’d blame the portal…

  5. Karakuri says:

    Well, from the rest of the comments, it looks like everyone (minus Highway) gets lost in RPGs! Hooray! At least I have proof now that I’m not totally inept.

    …I just wish that this didn’t happen to me in every game where you have to navigate by yourself. Sure, getting side quests is cool, but by the time I encounter whatever I have to do for one, I’ve collected so many of them that I don’t remember what the quest in front of me asked for in the first place. OTL

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      KSP is not an RPG. >_>

    • Highway says:

      Well, I also never get lost anywhere, so it’s probably just me.

    • Overcooled says:

      Highway is a special case and we’re all envious of him ;w;

      I have the same issue keeping track of quests, especially in games where they pile on a ton at once. It’s just a recipe for disaster lol

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