Originally Published: 29 November 2008

Obsessive. Compulsive. Dashboard.

It’s only been ten days since the New Xbox Experience was launched, and I’m hard pressed to remember the old dashboard. Okay, I’m not quite that hard-pressed, sure I can remember the old dash but by jiminy, the new one is good!

Almost everyone has had a chance, by now, to have a good old fiddle with it – crafting their avatars to look like whatever they want. In the case of a couple of my Xbox Live Friends the avatar is scarily lifelike, whereas Laura’s, for example, is completely different almost every time she logs in. When I crafted mine, I tried to make it look a bit like me and then stuck it in a brown suit so I could pretend I was Doctor Who look sophisticated!

So, NXE launched last Wednesday. I went to work on Thursday and asked my mate James what he thought of it.

“Awesome,” he said. “We spent all night burping. We don’t play games anymore. We just burp.”
I won’t lie. A portion of my brain was worrying that too much work had addled the poor lad’s brain. “You did what?”
“Press the right thumbstick, you’ll see…”

The end of the work day couldn’t have come quick enough for me. I raced home (well, as much as a bus can race) and immediately set to work burping. And yes, if you’re editing your avatar, a quick press of the right stick does yield a burp. Push the stick up as you click and you get a higher pitch, pushing it down and clicking results in a good deep belch. Genius.

At work the next day I was asked if I had burped. I had indeed. But I’d also made my little Geo dizzy, smiley and angry. The avatar rocks. Shake his head while you’re on your profile and he’ll show you that no means no! Nod, and he’s happy. Spin his head frantically and he looks a bit ill – complete with spinning eyeballs. More genius.

But the thing I like best about the new look is that I get to keep it tidy. I spent a good portion of the evening cleaning up my games list – deleting zero point games is a nice touch. So, it was goodbye Crazy Mouse (hurrah!), goodbye Hellboy and, at long last, goodbye OXM demo discs. Hurrah. It was also a time to curse that I managed to squeeze a couple of achievements out of Bomberman Zero, as that shall now blight my list for all time but, hey, you can’t have it all.

It was while I was flicking through my games that the OCD really kicked in. The New Xbox Experience has adopted the sliding bar approach that and use for showing you how you’re doing with your achievements. Get all the achievements and your bar is full, get only a few and your bar is all but empty. For some reason, seeing the games represented like this has made me want to neaten them all up. It’s absolutely ludicrous.

Now I’m finding that getting an achievement has nothing to do with score whoring, it’s all about making my little green bars neat. If, for example, the Gamerscore bar is longer or shorter than the Achievements Earned bar (as it is for most games – unless it’s 50 achievements at 20 points each) I find myself wanting to even them out so that it doesn’t look higgledy-piggledy. In a way, this is good because the easiest way to neaten everything up is to try and get all the achievements meaning that I am spending more time playing a game, but it also means that if I’m playing something crap and pick up an achievement, I’ll then have to endure it a little bit more to tidy up my bars.

I’m hoping that this bout of OCD will fade once the new car smell of the NXE fades, and that I can just go back to playing whatever and not really caring what my Gamercard looks like at the end of it (although I will, of course, always delete Crazy Mouse every time I play it!) but for now I find myself a slave to the sliders.

Maybe I should change my avatar to look like Adrian Monk, the Obsessive Compulsive Detective from the TV show, Monk.