Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why do we replay video games?

Gamer Informer online had an interesting article about why we replay video games. I had to stop and think about it for a bit to try and see why I replay video games. Here's their eight reasons and my take on them.

#1 - Financial Limitations
It's been awhile since I've had some financial limitations on my game buying experience. It's not that I make a lot of money or I've won the lottery, it's just that I've refined my tastes in games a lot better. There was a time when the Game Cube and original Xbox came out that I wanted both but couldn't afford them. My brother dain and I compromised. He was making more money than me so he bought the Xbox and I bought the Game Cube. We'd meet up at my parent's house and share systems. Once I realized that I just couldn't play Xbox games once a week I re-examined my budget and found away to buy an original Xbox (refurbished).

I've bought several games because they were popular (Grand Theft Auto III) and haven't liked them, so I eventually sold them back. Since then I've tried to be informed about games and only buy the ones I think I'll like. I have gone out on a limb for games that looked interesting without knowing anything about them (Pikmin) but now I do a little bit of research before buying.

#2 - Nostalgia
Yes, I go back and play older games because I miss the game play. They also remind me of when my life wasn't filled with so much responsibility. Games can be an escape not just with their game play but also with the mind set they can put you in. I will always love Legend of Dragoon and I think as long as I've got a system to play it on I will always be going back to play that game. Final Fantasy IX and X are also like that for me.

#3 - Old Games/New Tricks
I'm not a glitcher. I don't use cheat codes (unless I absolutely can't get through an area without one). So picking up an old game just because someone figured out how you can get through one area without dying doesn't do it for me. I might pick it up because the first time through I struggled to beat a boss using wind based weapons but then I find out fire based weapons work much better. I like replaying games to see if there was a way I could have gotten past a point a little easier without using any cheats. Games that now have downloadable content will get a second play through by me. Same game but new stuff is always a good thing.

#4 - Unlockables
Unlockables are good. Playing a game where the choices you make determine what future missions are available is also a good thing. I like the fact that how you play the game and the decisions you make effect what actions and story lines are available to you. If you pick the good story line (being a saint in Fable or good in Knights of the Old Republic or a by-the-books soldier in Mass Effect) and having that determine what you can and can not do (even if only in dialogue choices) makes playing the game a second time to see what things are different a good game. And the "New Game+" option I first encountered in Chrono Cross (I think) is fantastic. How much do you hate getting to the end of the game and finally getting that ultimate weapon but there's only one battle left to use it in? Let us keep what we've got and start all over with the enemy adjusting accordingly.

#5 - Difficulty, Co-Op and Multiplayer Modes
I will never play a game the first time on the hardest difficulty. I'm just not that good of a player. I always start out at easy or normal. Once I've gotten a feel of the game I usually can do better but it takes me a while to get to that point. I like playing Co-Op games. I don't have to start at the beginning with someone but jumping into a level with someone else is so much easier then doing everything yourself. And if you're playing a level ahead of where you are in your single player game once you get up to that level you'll know what to do. I can't tell you how many times this has helped me in a game. For multiplayer games I will always enjoy going back and playing Star Wars Battlefront. Partly for nostalgia but partly for the fact that you can get more people in a Battlefront game than you can in a Gears of War game. The more the merrier I say.

#6 - Achievement Points
There is one thing I don't like about difficulty level achievements. If you play a game through on Hard you get the achievement for that but also the achievement for Easy and Normal as well. To me (maybe because I always start on easy) you should have to play the game at each level to get those achievement points.

And what are you going to do if you finish BioShock and realize you're missing a journal or two? You could load up a previous save or you could restart the game. Either way you're replaying the game to get that Historian achievement. A lot of games have achievements that aren't possible to get in just one go through. Mass Effect is a perfect example. If you like a game enough to replay it for achievements then why not? If you like the game have fun with it and enjoy it second time around as well.

#7 - I can't quit you - addiction
For a while there I was addicted to Star Wars Battlefront. I had to play it every night. It didn't matter what kind of mood I was in or what things I should have been doing after I got home from work (like laundry), I just had to play the game. I went through a similar thing with SSX Tricky for the PS2. There are certain games that strike just the right chord in you at just the right time and you just have to play them. It's a drug and you need your fix. And there's nothing wrong with that . . . unless it interferes with living in the real world. It's a lot safer addiction than tobacco or alcohol or other drugs. And those people that are dying playing World of Warcraft have a lot more serious issues than just a game addiction.

#8 - Who the hell needs a reason?
Exactly. A good game is a good game no matter how new or old it is. And there's nothing wrong with playing a good game.

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