As the years go by, more games get released. As games get released, even more go to the wayside and I never get around to playing. Still, I find myself fairly consistently playing video games, albeit in a lighter capacity than when I was younger. Clearly, then, some game is preoccupying my time.
As of the writing of this post, big name games like Horizon: Forbidden West and Elden Ring have just released. A few months back we had big releases like Pokemon: Legends Arceus and Dying Light 2. Aside from hearing about these games from friends, I really don’t know what these new experiences are quite like. I cannot even excuse myself for playing one of these newer games and just not getting around to the even “Newer” ones. What’s really happening is I’m just playing the same games over and over.
It’s no question which game comes to mind first and foremost: my friend group and I still regularly play Overwatch, and it’s been going on damn near two straight years of weekly, if not daily, playing. The game has helped us stay connected through the Pandemic, and it’s been a pretty fun game all things considered. It’s not just Overwatch we play routinely. Vermintide II has also been a game we return too quite regularly thanks in large part to it’s incredible replay value, added (and free!) content updates, and the high polish the game offers. Rounding out the big banners of what I’m currently playing are simple social games that everyone plays on their phones: downforacross is a great one you can all enjoy, and it seems everyone these days is playing Wordle and one of it’s many many clones.
It’s also not just these big games I’m playing. When looking at streaming some older games, I’ve leaned toward the games I know. Most recently I hopped into Street Fighter III: Third Strike, by far one of my favorite fighting games of all time. Before that, I’ve streamed what is probably my second favorite fighter, Capcom vs. SNK 2 on multiple occasions. I’ve even jumped back into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater a couple times. Despite having literally thousands of video games I’ve never played, I find myself sticking to the tried-and-true games I love.
And that got me thinking: why is it I gravitate toward to familiar and only on occasion step away to play something truly new?
The answer is going to be subjective for each gamer. Personally, I think it’s about control. Not in the literal sense, but rather control of my expectations. I know what is coming with a game like CvS2. I know I’ll be playing against the computer, pumping up the difficulty each play through, trying out my favorite team combinations, and enjoying the iconic announcer. With games like Overwatch I know I’ll be really just chatting with friends and playing a game in the background. When we pivot to playing ranked competitive matches, my mindset shifts to which characters I’ve mastered and know how to play best. Still, treading in familiar waters.
When thinking of a game to stream I’ll often scroll through my collection on my phone, thinking, “Oh nice, that’ll be a fun one!” and then kind of never play it. Be it time constraint, difficulty in setting up a console, or any excuse you want to throw in, I tend to not take that dive. Thinking deeper, though, I think there’s a bit of fear of not enjoying the game. As stated above, time is a precious thing. Playing a game can be a risk if I don’t end up liking it. Will I waste my time if I stream Darkwatch on PS2? Coincidentally, this is exactly what I was thinking before NOT streaming it. Why play a game I might not enjoy for the little fraction of time I have when I could play something I know I will like?
That’s not a bad thing either: it is rewarding and fun to play these comforting games. I grew up playing a lot of fighting games with my brothers. So, playing Mortal Kombat II again for an hour or two brings me back to times I was with them; it brings me back to a time I know I was having fun. It also definitely helps the game is good. Even if it wasn’t, having a special place in my heart will make the time spent replaying, streaming, or enjoying with new friends worthwhile.
What I’ve created is a safety net of video games I know I will enjoy at any given time. Games like Vermintide, Overwatch, Street Fighter III, and games I haven’t mentioned yet like Hades and Fallout, will always be in my wheelhouse for enjoyment. Years and years later, when we’re playing on our Playstation 7’s, I’ll still be loving these older games. I am not opposed to new games either. I will play them as they come. But the sheer amount of quality games coming out these days means I cannot possibly play them all. But when I do play a new one and like it, for example 2018’s God of War, it will be added to these timeless classics.
I imagine a lot of you out there reading this have the exact same feelings too: you’ll love the new games that come out, but the titles you’ve connected with years past will be the ones you hold dearest. There’s nothing wrong with that either. Quite the opposite: I hope everyone can find a video game they enjoy so thoroughly they continue to play it for years.