Psychology of Collecting Video Games – OMG I’m broken!

Zelda

Rexis here!

To sell or not to sell? What does one do with more than twenty Game Boy systems? I’ve been wrestling with this question for a couple of months. While I’m fine with letting my game collection gather dust, I feel that it would be a good idea to sell this stuff and get  a new gaming PC. There’s so much magic coming and I want to get in on it. My gaming regimen is becoming something of a relic these days. As far as the eighth generation goes, I’m only rocking a Wii U. PS4 and XBone just aren’t doing it for me. Unfortunately, getting a solid gaming rig will cost more than I can afford without parting with a few things.

I just can’t do it! I can’t justify selling my things. It hurts my brain to think of doing so. But why? What is it about collecting these things that I enjoy? I browse garage sells, flea markets, and second hand stores looking for some sort of game related tech and when I spot a good deal, I take it. I enjoy the hunt even if I don’t find anything. When I do find something I get a sort of high from it. I revel in it. I take it home, clean it up, and put it on display in my game room. I look at it. I play it for a few minutes. Then the high subsides and I’m back on the hunt.

Digging around on the internet has shown me that the psychology of collecting is… complicated. The reasons we collect things are so varied. We do it to showcase power and wealth. We do it because we are nostalgic. We do it to cope with anxiety. We do it to profit. We even do it to feel more connected to the subject matter; Collecting Paris Hilton’s chewed gum, for example. Some go to extremes (hoarders), to fill some void in their lives. These are all well and good, but I want to know why I, specifically, am a collector.

Enter M. Farouk Radwan (http://www.2knowmyself.com/about). He says, “Because life is uncertain and can easily make a person feel helpless, some people use their collections to create a private comfort zone that they can control.” Oh. My. Gob. Is this why I have a game room? Is it my private comfort zone? I am in control over it after all. He continues, “Some people collect stuff in order to create a bank of good memories that they can get back to whenever things go wrong. If their lives became bitter those people can get instant mood boosts by going back to their collections and recalling the good memories.” When I’m in my game room, I feel like I’m being recharged. I don’t need to be playing anything. Just sitting in there make me feel better. I’m surrounded by my collection and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

So is this my answer? Am I collecting to, as he puts it, “reduce anxiety and help those people cope with the uncertainty of the real world.” Being the head of a single income family of four, I can assure you, I have anxieties. Money is forever an issue. There are good months and bad ones. Keeping the kids happy and healthy is always a major concern. The various circumstances that take money out of my paycheck are no good at all. The idea that I can lose my job while we live in a city with no real family or friends around is stressful to say the least.

In a post I wrote a month and half ago, I explained that I’m a gamer because I love the escapism of it all. It lifts my spirits the same as the collection does. Unfortunately, Radwan explains “No matter how better you feel after revisiting your collection your current life will force you back into the bad mood.” Another statement I agree with. This guy is dropping pearls of wisdom as if he works at Confucius’ Oyster Farm.

Well. It seems I have some sort of anxiety problem. It’s amazing how the brain works. What to do now? Radwan says “The only way to fix things permanently is to fight for a better future instead of leaning on a good past to feel better.” So I should part with my collection and work toward a better future in gaming? Letting go of the past isn’t easy. I love my collection, but maybe that’s only because I’ve conditioned myself to love it. Two years ago, I had a small shelf with some games on it. I was fine then. Now, I have a room full of game related things. How do I just abandon that? It’s funny how understanding  doesn’t always help us make a decision.

 I feel like I’ll still be struggling with this for some time to come… At least I still have my game room to sit in. For now.

Reference: http://www.2knowmyself.com/Why_do_people_collect_things (Screw you APA! This is my blog!)

Next Room Syndrome – You can’t please everyone! (especially gamers!)

“In each room there are 20 guys to kill. Every doorway represents a cut scene.”  “Excellent work, Johnson! You’re promoted! Here, you can have my car!”

Rexis here!

Hello world! How are you? Hopefully well? I’m well. It’s funny how the word good has replaced the word well in many cases. Anyways, I’ve been thinking about games lately, as I’m apt to do, Uncharted in particular. I recently picked up the first three for a good price and I am, so far, disappointed. Why, you ask? Yes, I can hear you. Allow me to explain.

Every once in a while a game comes along that leaves an impression on the gaming community as a whole and is generally said to be “good” or in some cases “great.” Uncharted is one of these games and received generally high reviews (focusing on the first one here). Unfortunately, it suffers from what I am going to call “next room syndrome.” I can hear you wrinkling your brow. You see, Uncharted has a cool story and I was really into it. I was psyched to travel the world and track down this mystery it’s got going on, plus there was the mention of Nazis. And the graphics were pretty gorgeous as well. It was the gameplay that forced me to turn it off. I was tasked with killing a bunch of guys, then going to another room/area/corridor/whathaveyou and killing another bunch of guys. Another room. More guys to kill. After slaughtering an army single handedly in the first hour I started to wonder if this game offered any other variety at all. By the second hour, I hadn’t found it. Next room syndrome. “Maybe I’ll find something different in the next room.”

This immediately reminded me of Batman: Arkham Origins, The Last of Us, and Final Fantasy 13. A side note: I did finish the Last of Us (after quitting once before) despite the next room syndrome because I loved the story. I did feel like I was forcing my way through it, however. You have to understand here that it isn’t the repetitiveness that makes me want to quit (I’ve played great repetitive games for many long hours), it’s the obvious and glaring sectioned off style of gaming. In the case of Final Fantasy 13, you can see the rooms on the map and you know a cut scene is coming when you reach the next transition. I don’t like it. It feels cheap to me. It feels like bad level design.

When I think of titles that don’t do this, I lean towards Grand Theft Auto, Elder Scrolls, and (newer) Assassin’s Creed. Shooter games can be especially guilty of next room syndrome, but they don’t have to be. Call of Duty Black Ops (So many groans from Battlefield fans. Relax. I’m not talking multiplayer here) had a single player campaign with a compelling story and fully fleshed out level design. I never felt compartmentalized when I played through it and I really enjoyed it. A good portion of the story was told during gameplay dialogue instead of relying on cut scenes and gameplay was shaken up on certain missions. Uncharted (the first one, at least) could have learned a lot from Black Ops.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying these titles are bad inherently, just that they don’t interest me as a gamer. I enjoy a good story and story itself serves as a great reward for a player like me, but the gameplay has to work or I’m not sticking around. As much as I loved The Last of Us (story wise), I can’t imagine playing through it again.

My realization that these games all have next room syndrome in common got me thinking a bit about other titles I do and don’t like for particular reasons. I love Mario Kart, Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing, and Biker Mice from Mars (SNES) because they are racing titles that allow you to attack your opponent. I dislike formal racing sims.  I like open world games like Skyrim and GTA and I enjoy the occasional linear story. Lately, I’ve been playing Game of Thrones Episode 1 on my phone and I am enjoying the story. There isn’t much action in it (might review it actually). I find it reminiscent of Heavy Rain, which I liked. My plans for future endeavors include Ori and the Blind Forest which reminds me of classic Super Metroid.

Games and gamers come in many different flavors. Not all games can be made to cater to all audiences despite how much we want them to. The Order: 1886 has been getting a bad rap, but it sounds like something right up my alley. I also fear Splatoon will be overlooked and could be a great title for Wii U (haven’t had the joy of playing it yet).

So what do you think? What do you love to play and what do you loathe? How do you feel about “next room syndrome”? Do you think Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate will be guilty of the flaws that plagued some of its predecessors or do you think Ubisoft has found the formula that will appeal to everyone? Finally, what is your favorite game? I’m just curious on that one.

A Creepypasta Inspired Video Game Poem

Years in the making, this tail of great woe.

I’d heard rumors of a game, remarkably so.

A game from my childhood, familiar to me.

Yet, somehow, still a complete mystery.

Long nights I’d spent searching online,

Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon Prime.

I compiled the data. I searched high and low.

Request after request, all I heard was no.

Rumors abound on Twitter and Reddit.

Perhaps I was finally starting to get it.

It didn’t exist, this rare little cart,

But then came a message, I knew in my heart

That this was my moment. I’d found it at last.

In a store on the corner that wasn’t there in the past.

Overnight it had sprung up, but seemed very old.

On the shelf inside glinted the gold.

A man with no teeth gave it to me,

There was no charge, but nothing is free.

I backed away slowly and then turned to leave

When I felt a slight tug on my sleeve.

I spun around quickly and looked down at the ground

Where a faceless boy stood and told me Ben Drowned.

 

 

Plugged-in Players – Wii and Wii U Confusion

Mass-Confusion

Rexis here!

Watching someone struggle to understand something that you have a complete grasp of is painful. I don’t know how teachers do what they do. I was in a game store recently and I had to watch an employee explain to a customer what a Wii U is, what the bundle includes, and how it’s played. The worst part was that the employee was clueless as well. My stomach was churning as the misinformation flew. So today I want to talk about Nintendo and the Wii / Wii-U confusion. Let’s just get some things straight for those among us who don’t know the difference.

wii

The Nintendo Wii is a 7th generation home video game console that focuses on motion control as its primary means of gameplay. It was a revolutionary idea at the time of its release. Motion controls have been attempted in the past, but Nintendo finally perfected the idea. The console became a hit and late 2006-2007 was marred with scalpers and sold out units across the country. I managed to pick one up that I happened to find on a Wal-Mart shelf.  Without delving too much into review territory, I will say that the system is a fun little thing and has a number of great games. The console uses a Wii-mote controller that utilizes infrared to achieve the motion control. It is also backwards compatible with the GameCube. The insane popularity of Nintendo’s console inspired Microsoft’s Kinect and Playstation’s Move.

wiiu

Fast forward to 2012 and Nintendo gives us the Wii U. This is an 8th generation home video game console and is the current competitor to the PS4 and XBOX One. It is not an attachment or upgrade to the Wii as the 32X was to the Genesis. It is an entirely stand-alone system. The naming of the console seems to have caused a great deal of confusion in that regard and when coupled with its backward compatibility, it’s easy to see why people would confuse it for its predecessor. The console comes with a gamepad that gives the player a second handheld screen with touch capability (like the DS essentially). The system has not sold well despite the fact that is has some pretty fun games. It is backward compatible with the Wii, meaning it can play all the Wii games and can use the Wii-motes (controllers). It also has Wii U-motes of its own, which are improved versions of the original Wii-mote. Just keep in mind that the Wii cannot use Wii U hardware.

So there you have it. Two consoles. Similar names. This may have been information you already knew, and if so, good for you! If you didn’t already know this, I hope it helps clear up any confusion. For what it’s worth, I love my Wii U and actually play it often. It’s a great console for any Nintendo fan.