A large degree of this is, admittedly, me seeking therapeutic discussion, but I do genuinely wonder if anyone else has dealt with this kind of thing, and what kind of conclusions they've come to.
There's a been a peculiar throughline to my engagement in playing games these past few years.
At some point, I started collecting. I ended up getting big into talks about videogame ownership and preservation, and as much as the ability to re-visit games when they're physical copies and not DRM-filled steam downloads is nice, it became increasingly clear a big factor that put a fire under my seat was thinking long term.
As much as I knew it was kind of a pipe dream, a fantasy I had was that I was, in effect, building a library of games. It would be shelf-fulls of games I could provide, and I'd aspire to provide for any kind of gamer, appealing to as many niches and preferences as I could, so long as I thought the games themselves were good. And frankly this turned me into kind of a ludophile; suddenly I was checking out genres I'd never have shown interest in prior, discovering I had interests in in types of games I'd never considered. And I played them all through to the end, even if I personally found some of them to be meh, because one part of me liked to think that, "the librarian should be familiar with the contents of the library". This even pushed me to see some barely passable games through to the end, as it felt like my "scholar's experience" wouldn't be much if I didn't (please notice that my use of inverted commas means I know I sound pretty hokey). But ultimately, I'd say it was feeling pretty fulfilling. Felt like I was building something, and I was being incentivised to enjoy this hobby perhaps more than I did as a kid.
But then there was kind of a stroke of reality I found recently that kinda cut to the bone for me. Another redditor saw me share a short summary of my want to build a library and how it was pushing me to see an esoteric variety of games through, and gave me the cautionary advise that I needed to sever this mindset, and that ultimately, I'd find I'd wasted my life building a library nobody else was gonna use.
It's a hard pill to swallow because I don't really see myself being any happier for having accepted any degree of it. I started comparing the possibility of playing games I'd play once and would find no value in them beyond that, how I might as well just settle for game streaming where I have no ownership of the games at all (from which, my collection could be functionally indistinct), and I just couldn't see myself wanting to play games any more. And that almost seems laughable, that the lack of long-term applicability could turn this from an engaging thing to do in my spare time, to something where the apparent fruitlessness of it becomes suddenly distracting. Does that make any amount of sense?
Sure, maybe three or four people might borrow some of my games over the years, or be interested in what I got on the shelf (I know the kid I babysit kinda did), but if I need to abandon the idea of this collection being meaningful, I feel like I'm kinda left without much else in my spare time.
I wanna know if many of you have ever gone through similar come-to-jesus moments like this. Perhaps you're collectors who still found some satisfaction in filling these shelves even if it was only for you? Perhaps you're someone who let go of preference for physical media and settled for DRM-riddled games and streaming services? How did you come around on questioning the value of a product where its availability could be so fleeting, and how your very ownership of it was in question?
Have you ever had/considered similar quandaries over other mediums, like if you start to worry you're wasting your time building a book collection, where most books in it will be lucky to ever get read once?
EDIT – For clarification's sake, when I say "library" I'm not really thinking of having an open doors center for strangers to come in. I just meant as in, to have a stash ready to lend around to friends. Kinda got a start lending a few Switch games to one friend, but then COVID happened and I haven't seen him, or my copy of Smash, since.
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