Readers Discuss the Videogame Flame

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read yesterday's article and to write me. There was a lot of really good discussion taking place via the comments, through direct email, and also on the forums at where I shamelessly linked to my own article. Hey, with nearly 7,000 posts there I figured a little self-promotion once in a blue moon wouldn't be too bad. Anyway, your compliments were very kind and I'm glad you all enjoyed the article. Also, I'm glad Michael "Horror Geek" Bracken was able to identify his "shrinkwrap shrine" phrase as his own. Lastly, I want to thank Bill Harris of the ever-popular and always-interesting Dubious Quality blog for linking to the article.

That being said, I want to reply to the excellent points many of you had made. For starters, the issue of being a collector was brought up several times and although I didn't mention this aspect of gaming consumerism, it was only because I wanted to save this topic for a later article. I completely understand the element of collecting -- as well as the mindset of being afraid of "missing out" on a less popular title and having to pay big on Ebay for it later -- and agree with you that it isn't something that should necessarily be avoided. However, I believe that there are a lot of people who, like me, gain satisfaction not from collecting per se, but through the act of purchasing. I used to hide this problem under the guise of being a collector, but to be perfectly honest, I was just being irresponsible with my money. For many it seems, the games they still have in shrinkwrap will be opened one day in the future but even in their unopened state, the owners find a value in having them. These are the collectors.

For me, I found no value in having the game as soon as I returned home from the store. It was the buildup and anticipation of purchasing the game that I was interested in. I wasn't a collector, but a compulsive shopper. Big difference. Take the SOCOM games for example. I have the first two installments in the series, both in shrinkwrap, with no intention of ever playing them. Had you have asked me 24 hours after I purchased them why I did, I would have told you that I had no idea. I fell for the hype, got caught up in the excitement about their release -- perhaps I read too many articles about the San Francisco Giants bullpen pitchers being expert SOCOM clansmen? I don't know. But I was excited to own them until I got home and placed them on the shelf. That's when they lost all value to me. And that's why I'm not only trying to limit my purchases, but also trying to sell and trade away many of the games I obtained through rash reasoning. I'm not a collector.

As much as the article may read like I'm trying to speak for gamers as a group, I do wholly understand that my specific habits are only my own. As someone with other hobbies that compete for my dollars, I find it necessary that I strive to limit my gaming purchases.

The other issue that came up a lot in people's comments was the notion of forcing oneself to complete a game. Many may have quickly read past the sentence which I said that surely not every game is worth playing, but in no way was I implying that every game should be completed. There are games that simply get too repetitive to be worthy of our time -- I should know, as I'm often paid to write books about such games -- and, as many of you said, RPG's are often the biggest offender. I wouldn't dare suggest that people are best served or "owe it to themselves" by spending 80 hours slogging through a game that realistically has only 20 hours of interesting gameplay. Hell no!

Instead, I was pointing more towards the idea that games often get frustrating and that it seems that, many of these times, this period of frustration is only an hour or two long. Often I would simply shelve the title and move on to another game. But, I'm finding, that with just a little dedication, the frustration goes away and the game takes on a whole new level of enjoyment. Clearly this is not the case for every game. If after an hour or so of frustration the game is still committing the same sins that left you originally annoyed and ready to fling the controller, then that is a sign of a game not worth your time. Hit that eject button and go elsewhere.

I think that addresses the two major issues you all raised. Thanks again for reading and feel free to keep the discussion alive.

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