No Looking Back: Are Gamers Obsessed With The New?

The most exciting news from this year’s E3, for me, was the announcement of Dead Space 2’s PS3 edition, to be released with a Move-enabled HD remake of the Wii’s Dead Space: Extraction. And with the release of a Move edition of Heavy Rain, too, this gave me all the reason I needed to be interested in the new hardware.

But here’s the thing: I never played the original Extraction. I never played the original Heavy Rain. If I wanted, I could pick them up today from my local supermarket at a discount. And yet I’m keen to spend money on new hardware to play versions of the same games which aren’t available yet…

Part of this comes down to the fact that gamers follow a medium that continues to evolve at a far quicker pace than any other. While certain films make jumps forward in technology – think of Avatar’s use of 3D and CG actors – they tend to be seen as milestones. Games improve graphically and technically on an almost  weekly basis – just look at the difference between Crysis, a game that all but crippled most PCs, and its forthcoming sequel.

The effect of this tends to be that keen gamers are constantly looking forward to the next big thing. We want to get our hands on new releases to see the graphical improvements or try out the controls to see how handling or physics have changed. This is one of the reasons it’s such an exciting medium, but it tends to leave a trail of unfinished games in its wake. We may have firm favorites from the past, but with a queue of new titles waiting, how likely are we to revisit them? Compare the situation to books or movies – I’ll often watch or read something from years ago, but the stuff I play is almost exclusively new releases.

It may be that all this anticipation serves to expose the weaknesses in today’s games. After all, if they were that good we’d just keep going, wouldn’t we? It may be that many games outstay their welcome, giving the player the chance to fully explore the mechanics before the story’s over. We drift away not just because of the lure of the new, but because we’ve lost interest in what we’re doing. The end result is often a nagging feeling of guilt when we look at the games shelf – ‘I should really go back and finish Mario Galaxy/Arkham Asylum/Fallout 3’ – before I head off to pre-order their sequels…

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  • a backlog of games is sadly becoming the norm for the modern gamer. Partly I pick up a new game to avoid hearing a spolier before I reach that point in the story myself but more often than not I simply do not have the time to play the game and it collects dust on my shelf. I often wish I only ever bought a small selection of games a year so that I could give them the time they deserve.

    I have rebought so many versions of the same game simply becasue its new and in far too many cases I have not finished the first version which is so much cheaper to buy.

  • the chem girl

    You really should go back and re visit all those titles. Am sure your girlfriend does not want to purchase yet more IKEA storage solutions for that ever expanding collection of half finished games!

    Gaming girlfriends everywhere – are yo with me?

  • Cameron

    Not me i still play old games i recently bought Half life one and stalker: shadow of chenobyl and i still play san andreas regularly