In this opinion piece, we ask the question of whether or not the massive amount of video games that are released is a good thing. With such little time the average gaming adult has to play, it’s a question worth asking.
In today’s modern world of gaming, most of us may find ourselves online or at our local game store when payday comes around. You are excited to finally buy the new game that just came out that your favorite Coin-Drop writer raved about in the weeks prior. With game in hand you rush home (or watch cat videos if you’re downloading a digital copy) with a rush of excitement streaming through your body. You get home and nearly shove the game into the dock, because somehow pushing the disc in will make the system take it faster. Then the dreaded day one patch begins to download, bringing your excitement to a screeching halt – a subject for another opinion piece at another time. As soon as that download and installation is complete, you start the app and brace yourself for the time of your life. That guy on Coin-Drop had better been right about this game, so help me – you think to yourself.
You play the game for about 4 to 8 hours before noticing it’s 4 a.m. and you have to get up in two hours to go to work. All your time at work is spent thinking about your new game – how you might beat the boss that kicked your ass last night, or where the collectibles are that slipped by you as you explored the level, swearing to yourself you covered every inch. Once you get home, you start up your game and have at it. It’s a wondrous joy unmatched by anything else. Your favorite Coin-Drop writer was right…this time. This was 60 bucks well spent.
Over the weekend, you’ve rushed more than halfway through the game and still haven’t dabbled much in multiplayer, played co-op, or even began to replay levels to get all the collectibles. By the following week you begin to sweat a little because you’ve been so busy you haven’t had the opportunity to play much. Work is crazy, you want to spend time with the family and other chores need to be done. You’re a responsible, grown adult and you just don’t have the time to play your games like you used to. Not to mention you just read a new article regarding the next game you want to get that’s coming out next week, just in time for payday again. Now you look at your system with an ever so slight feeling of dread. You want to play, you need to play, but adulting just becomes a thing when you get older. Regrettably, the game you were once so passionate about collects dust and becomes only a moderate trophy for partial completion.
It’s a place we’ve all been before and it only gets worse. I’d like to say it’s due to having more responsibility as I get older, but deep down I know that’s not why I don’t have time for all these games anymore. The reality is I never did have the time. When we were children we had school and homework to complete. We had school projects and after school activities, summer vacations and chores or even jobs. Games were always there, but not to the extent we have today. We had to rely on our parents to buy us games. The internet was barely a thing and one of the main ways we learned about video games was the commercials on cable T.V.
You remember what that is, right? Cable T.V. and commercials? Back then, in the 80’s and 90’s we had a lot more time and patience. There was no recording to a DVR and skipping commercials. There was no WiFi or smart devices. All we could do was wait through everything; commercials, dial-up, loading pages on a website, and for the next great game to come out.
Does anyone remember how we needed to actually WAIT for a new great game to come out? I remember playing games like Excite Bike and Kid Icarus for years, or replaying Mario 64 and Banjo & Kazooie a million times. Every weekend held a Goldeneye 64 and Mario Party tournament. There was no online play at this time so we’d get together in person. The night would dwindle away with junk food and screen-sniping abounded (though no one would ever admit to it). For a while we would talk about the same 6 or 7 games because it was all that was worth talking about. And it was enough. We needed no other games.
Then something happened. The Xbox and PS2 came out and changed the way we play games today. The industry exploded and there was no longer a stigma to being a gamer. The industry has become such a gargantuan money making machine that Hollywood actors often star in games. Most titles often come with professional voice acting. Products are turned out so fast it’s impossible to keep up. Social media is integrated right into our systems and it’s hard to ignore video games even if you don’t play them. Video games, no matter your choice of medium, are intertwined into our lives so intimately, it’s hard to remember life when it was only a minor past time.
I look at my collection and see many games I bought years ago. These were purchased with full intentions of playing them, but today they are still in their plastic wrap. The desire to play them is still there, but with frequent new releases, they stay wrapped a little longer. I think about how we are inundated with so many choices these days and a wave of nostalgia overcomes me. I remember a time where I could brag about how good I was at Goldeneye 64 to high school friends years after it released. Now, if I try to brag about how much time I spent on Ni No Kuni and got the plat the response I expect is: ‘Ni No wha…? That’s cool you got a plat though.’
With the longing for the gaming trends of old, I think to myself, is this a good thing? Obviously it’s great for the industry. The increase of popularity in the past two decades has enabled the release of incredible AAA titles and wonderful indie games we would have otherwise never seen. But is it good for the modern gamer? Despite the fact that there are games I will never get to play because they get buried in new ones so fast, I think it’s a great thing. Being able to play one game for months and even years on end with no other games worth taking my attention away was fun. I developed many memories with friends playing Super Smash Bro’s and Mario Kart every weekend, but today that idea sounds even more exhausting than having too many choices (first world problem right there). I know I will pick up Kingdoms of Amalur someday, and I enjoy having it on my shelf reminding me that I still have that choice. Knowing I have an incredible journey to unfold with Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom at any time of my choosing is comforting. It’s either that or a reality where my shelf only carries Goldeneye 64, Final Fantasy 6 and Body Harvest for years and years to come – and who really wants that?
This is an opinion piece by Peter Vargo whose opinions are his, and not necessarily those of Coin-Drop.com