Since I can remember, I've been a gamer. Starting with the NES and have played my way through the current crop of consoles. I never really struggled with a gaming "addiction" or anything like that. I knew when it was time for work and time for playing. I would get a few games a year. Usually birthdays and Christmas, sometimes from straight A's and such. I would play the snot out of those games and loved every second of it. I'd pick up some Nintendo Power mags around Christmas time for making my wishlist (they had gift buying guides almost every year) and started to use the internet once it became a more common thing.
Then, I got older and got a job.
I was about 19 or 20 and the PS2 was still in it's heyday, roughly 2003-2004. I really started to follow gaming websites and even reading reviews for games I wasn't even interested in. Since I had all this extra disposable income, I started buying games on my own; and buying, and buying, and buying. The problem was that I was buying so many games and I wasn't even playing them very much. Of course, I had less time to myself now that I had a job but I was buying so many more games than I truly had time to play.
The advertising from game trailers and even from reviews to an extent would sell me on games so much that I had to have that game. I'd build up this expectation of the game in my mind and I knew for sure it would fulfill this expectation I had. They never did and long before I'd beat it, the next "hot thing" would be getting all the preview coverage and advertisements. It was just a big cycle and I kept falling for it which kept me from enjoying most anything I would purchase.
In 2006, I purchased a 360 after seeing a friend play Oblivion on it and the hooks were in even deeper. Luckily for me, there weren't very many games on the 360 that interested me so I happily played Oblivion for over 100+ hours. During that time, I had stopped reading gaming website reviews, previews and the like. It almost felt like when I was kid, just coming home and playing the one game that I really wanted to play with my brain not bugging me in the background, trying to convince me there was a better game out there right now and you have to have it.
After I finished Oblivion, the cycle started over again. By this time, the 360 had become the NXE with more ads thrown in my face now. I started really reading gaming websites again and got hooked into buying all over again.
The 360 got redone again and ads are now even more prevalent than they were before. I didn't think anything of it. I didn't think it affected me in the least bit. At this point, I had stemmed my buying impulse and got on a budget which helped curb my appetite immensely. I still craved that "new experience" though, all the time. Whenever I was away from my Xbox, I would be dreaming of playing the games I owned. Every time I turned it on though, I was dreaming of all the games I didn't have.
There's something wrong with that.
I wanted to know why I felt this way so much. I couldn't ever figure it out until this past Christmas. For my wife and I's anniversary, she bought me Skyrim. I knew I only wanted to play Skyrim, so when I turned on my Xbox, I set it to play the disc in the tray instead of going to the Dashboard. I was the happiest gamer on the planet that entire month. I was completely satisfied just having fun with Skyrim. So much so, I took up other hobbies and didn't feel like the world was going to end if I didn't buy a new game or keep up with what was going on in the gaming industry.
For Christmas I bought my wife a PS3 and some of the Ratchet and Clank games; her favorite series. Of course, I was allowed to play as well and bought myself some PS3 games with Christmas money I'd received. Playing the PS3, I had the same experience as I had on the 360 when I told it to play the game in the tray. The PS3 interface doesn't show any ads unless you go to the tabs that naturally would show ads for games. It was clean, neat, and virtually ad free. I loved it!
It finally dawned on me. All those advertisements and reviews were what was causing me to be unhappy with what I was buying. Hindsight is 20/20 and I saw so many circumstances where I should have figured it out, but at least I understand how my mind reacts to this stuff.
I started reading less gaming websites, kept my Xbox to play the disc in the tray, and only browsing for information about games when I had money to spend. In February, I bought Arkham City for 360 and had so much fun just playing it and it alone until I was done. Then it was back to Skyrim. I found the same held true for PC gaming as well. I'm now an avid Steam user and I set my startup window to be the Library page; one of the best decisions I've ever made as a gamer.
For me, advertisements cause a problem. I love that Sony and Valve give me the option to see ads, mainly when I visit their storefront. I don't visit their storefront unless I've got money to spend. I don't hate Microsoft, but I don't want to see your dashboard anymore. I just want to play awesome games that I spent good money on.
I encourage everybody with 360's to set their system to startup the disc in the tray instead of the dashboard for awhile. See if advertising affects you more than you think.