Gameworld Exhaustion

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When a player has seen everything there is to see and done everything there is to do we say that the game has ended due to gameworld exhaustion. It is basically reaching the end of the game with nothing else left to do or see. Gameworld exhaustion is closely related to narrative exhaustion since, in many games, both things occur simultaneously.


Strong Examples


Pac-Man has 255 levels and there is a maximum score that can be obtained. A player who achieves this has finished the game due to gameworld exhaustion.

Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has a certain number of heart containers, items, and figurines to unlock. Once the player has completed all sidequests and tasks, as well as finishing the main story mode which includes completing every dungeon and defeating the final boss, the player has exhausted the gameworld.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit has a number of cars, tracks, items, and alternative play modes to unlock. Once all these items have been unlocked through achievements the player has exhausted all the gameworld possibilities.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is a good example of gameworld exhaustion that is not intertwined with narrative exhaustion. After the story ends, the player can continue playing because new dungeons are unlocked. During gameplay, you can actually complete a map by running around it and getting 100% map completion. You can do this with every map you come across to really exhaust the gameworld. When you get to the extra dungeons after the final boss, you can beat the game by Gameworld Exhaustion by seeing everything and doing everything and completing all of the maps.

Final Fantasy X

In Final Fantasy X players can experience game world exhaustion by reaching the maximum level for each character, finding all hidden treasures (e.g. aeons, ultimate weapons, etc…), beating all beast (including the monster ranch), and exploring every nook and cranny of the game world. The player does have the option to technically finish the game by defeating the final boss and ending the game, but the player may also continue to play till they satisfy their curiosity about the game world and quite frankly just “burn out” on the game play.

Weak Examples

Super Mario Brothers

Super Mario Brothers: Because of the linear style of the game, you must complete all of the levels presented in order to advance. You essentially are forced to exhaust the game before you reach the end. New areas do not present themselves in past worlds once the player has moved on to the world. Game exhaustion happens but it is not due to constant player exploration. It happens as a requisite of the game.

However, this game has many "secret" areas that the player can discover. If the player were to visit them all, we could say that the gameworld has been exhausted, however the player has no way of knowing whether or not he has achieved this.

Beyond Good and Evil

In Beyond Good and Evil, there is a gameworld that will eventually end. You can explore every nook and cranny, attain every item and take a picture of all the creatures, but that isn't where the game ends. The game ends when you complete the story and kill the last boss. It still allows for you to exhaust the game afterwards but the game truly ends when the narrative does.

Kirby Squeak Squad

Kirby Squeak Squad is a weak example of Gameworld Exhaustion because while it provides a linear path for players to follow it also has a series of collectible items which the player must obtain to truly exhaust the gameworld. Items such as chests contain new abilities as well as the capability to unlock new areas and therefore exhausting the gameworld by playing the game once through is almost impossible.

Donkey Kong Country

In Donkey Kong Country, the initial goal of the game is to reach the last world by getting through all the levels and defeating the final boss. While this may beat the game, there are many bonus areas to be found within each level. Therefore, it is difficult to completely exhaust the gameworld.