Having Too Many Good Games At The Same Time Is Ruining Games For Me

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flackbyte

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This is just a thing that's been bugging me. So let me throw some numbers, talk a bunch and you tell me what you make of it, okay?

204*.

That's the number of all movies that had a limited or wide release in Theaters in the US and/or Canada in 1985.

Some more numbers:

4207*.

That's the number of games released on Steam in 2016. Not all games, not even all PC games; that's just the games on Steam that year.

At first glance the problem seems to be that Steam, or any marketplace, needs quality control. That's not new, it does; but that doesn't solve what to me seems to me an unsolvable problem related to video games. Too many good games.

To illustrate that, let's go back to 1985 and look at a "busy" release schedule looks like in movies:

  • Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (96 min) - May 22
  • Fletch (98 min) - May 31
  • Goonies (114min) - June 7

16 days. 3 (arguably) good movies come out. People can watch, re-watch, talk about them, have opinions, change their opinions. Even being released close to each other, they have room to breathe.

Now Back to 2017. Let's take a look at what a busy week looks like in Video Games:

  • Horizon Zero Dawn (21h*) - Feb 28
  • Torment: Tides of Numerara (27h*) - Feb 28
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (44h*) - March 3
  • Nier: Automata (19h*) - March 7

7 days between Horizon and Nier. Three good¹ games come out. You have 7 days to play Horizon, Torment and Zelda before Nier comes out. Mainlining the three games will take you 92 hours. That just playing them beginning till end, not stopping to look around or do side stuff. 13 hours per day. Playing in the most efficient, unwasteful and unfun manner possible. Just once. Beginning to end. Not letting them breathe. Not that you have the time, because, shit, it's a week later and you have at least 19 more hours to put on Nier: Automata.

Curation doesn't solve that problem. Those are four good games. There's nothing in them that wouldn't pass quality control.

If you just look at games as products to be consumed, this is a dumb problem. The more variety of products in the market the better for the consumer. Curation is enough not to let the trash in and people will play what they want to play.

But looking at games as an art form, that starts to present a problem to me. Too many games fragments the gaming audience. Who has time or money to experiment, to explore new games when you have too many of them? Who, that wasn't already a fan, took time this year to try out Persona 5? Probably not too many people. What about Divinity 2? That's a really good game. It's also a good game that will take you at least 56 hours.

Fragmentation makes it harder to talk about video games as a medium, as an art form. It's harder for other games to use intertextuality, deconstruction, or subversion - things that require a common vocabulary. It's harder for people to talk about something if they are not speaking the same language.

Even people whose job is to play games can't handle the amount being released. In a couple of weeks the staff of Giant Bomb is going to sit down and talk about the games they played this year. If you been listening to the podcasts, you know you can expect a lot of "yeah...I fell out of it" and "that didn't seem like my kind of game so I didn't play it".

Not throwing shade at GB here, this is a problem for everyone outside and inside of games coverage.

There are too many games. Too many good games. Good games that don't have enough time to breathe before the next one comes out.

Just wanted to put that thought out there. I don't know what to make of it. Maybe someone else will

¹ - Good enough that they should be played and talked about.

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void

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Haven't you heard? This is the best time to be playing video games.

Look at it this way: The games you don't play will still be there waiting for you later and will be in an even better shape and more affordable than at launch in most cases. They're not ruined. (Except for multiplayer games, if you wait too long.)

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Dray2k

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#3  Edited By Dray2k

I have a problem with the way you're expecting people to fully experience a game in order to fully capture the experience. You don't even have to complete a good game in order to enjoy it to the fullest, as enjoyment is by itself super subjective.

While I finished BOTW on the Switch for instance I've also jumped into the Early Access of Northgard and while it may suprise you I think that BOTW was not as joyful as Northgard was for me. I did finish BOTW (didn't do it 100%, but still finished it) and perhaps spent 20% of that time completing a few rounds of Northgard, yet I still think that its the better game than Zelda for a couple of reasons. Not to mention that Northgard is a Early Access game that maybe enjoyed a quarter of the total time BOTW had, considering that it had a huge team behind it makes it quite impressive. I'm sure even the GB staff would look at it from a different perspective, which brings me to the next point.

All the Giant Bomb staff is doing is to provide a sort of direction on what they believe is a good video game. You can stick to them for entertainment while doing your own thing or trust their advices. Nobody is forcing you to stick with every game that is good, too.

So yeah, don't let your enjoyment drain by "too much good", rather just pick up stuff you feel might be cool and enjoy your time. This is not a battle of whose destination is the better one, but what journey you find most fullfilling from your own perspective, this year there has been something amazing there for everybody. GOTY talks never were a super serious thing, too. Of course some games are better than others but it depends on how the staff sees things.

I'm my own curator. I look at a game that interests me, then maybe go spend 10 minutes up to an hour to look up a gameplay video and a QL, perhaps skip through the video here and there and thats it. After that I made up my own mind whether or not I buy the game. I bought about 30-40 games that came out this year and the only game where I decided to purchase it without looking up stuff has been Origins and nothing else. Most of these games are games I didn't finish, because I enjoyed my time with them and will most likely finish them if I find the interest and time again.

Art, just like products, accounts for the viewer to be involved with it. You have to make up your own rules in order to prefer certain games over the other. With that said, its not wrong to sometimes go after another game during a sale for instance, as long as it catches your interests in one way or the other. You also don't have to "complete" Art in order to understand it. Art is art, just spend your time with it and the rest comes from alone.

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jkz

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#4  Edited By jkz

Man if you think video games are paralyzing in that regard try picking out a book. My "to read asap" list is a good 60ish books long and I'm still a couple hundred years behind new releases.

I don't think having an abundance of quality entertainment to choose between will ever be a bad thing. Video games have simply hit that growth period where you need to accept that your purview'll be limited by time and that as such you'll need to start arbitrarily choosing between appealing options. Personally, I don't, and never will, find that unhealthy for an artistic medium, be it video games, music, visual arts, books, film, or whatever else.

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@dray2k: Just to be clear. The times I put are just to get to credits in a games. 100% takes twice or more the times I posted. Also talking about art is really important for the development of a given art form, my point is that is much harder, nigh impossible with games. The "you don't have to complete it" is questionable, imagine if I said to you "I read half of the first Lord of the Rings Book, I got the feel of it. Here's my analysis.".

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flackbyte

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#6  Edited By flackbyte

@void said:

Haven't you heard? This is the best time to be playing video games.

Look at it this way: The games you don't play will still be there waiting for you later and will be in an even better shape and more affordable than at launch in most cases. They're not ruined. (Except for multiplayer games, if you wait too long.)

Again. Looking at them just as products, you are 100% right.

The problem to me is that the best time to have a discussion about a given game even with the fragmented gaming audience is at release, when the most people will have played it at more or less the same time. The only way to play older games and have a discussion about it is having some sort of gaming book club. I've tried it. It's hard to coordinate people to do that.

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peacebrother

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#7  Edited By peacebrother

Drop the FOMO; the paralysis of choice is a real thing, but there is value in taking an active effort in being ok with not experiencing everything.

The modern culture of "too much" can cause real mental anguish, so it's up to us to make the choice to take a step back when it starts to cause problems.

You're right that when taken as an art form and with a desire to discuss games with others this is a real problem: it can be overwhelming and suck, the solution lies in accepting that.

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flackbyte

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@jkz said:

Man if you think video games are paralyzing in that regard try picking out a book. My "to read asap" list is a good 60ish books long and I'm still a couple hundred years behind new releases.

That is a great point. I read a lot and I don't have the same problem. Possibly because I like old books. The only way for me to read and be in an environment to have a conversation about it is having a book club, which I already do and love.

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#9  Edited By flackbyte

@peacebrother: Just to be clear, I don't have fear of missing out. I play what I play and miss a lot of stuff. The point is that, because everyone does that, talking about video games as a medium is harder.

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#10  Edited By peacebrother

@flackbyte said:

@peacebrother: Just to be clear, I don't have fear of missing out. I play what I play and miss a lot of stuff. The point is that, because I and everyone do that, talking about video games as a medium is harder.

I mean, worrying about missing out on those discussions. That's a real thing. Everyone being segmented and separated because there are *so many games*.

That's most of modern society in general: way too fast, way too big, and way too much. There's a speed and scope to simply interacting today and online that makes getting a community together around anything an immense task. It's rough, I don't think there's any going back, so we gotta figure out new ways to do this stuff.

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@peacebrother: Missing out on the discussions of specific games is not as much of a problem as the segmentation itself, because it makes some macro stuff harder like deconstruction, intertextuality, talking about the medium etc.

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#12  Edited By peacebrother

@flackbyte said:

@peacebrother: Missing out on the discussions of specific games is not as much of a problem as the segmentation itself, because it makes some macro stuff harder like deconstruction, intertextuality, talking about the medium etc.

Absolutely. I'm with you 100%. I've got no solutions or ideas unfortunately, and this is definitely more of a culture-wide issue than specifically a games issue.

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sammo21

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Welcome to life? lol

I have over 50 books in my "Read me" list

I have about 10 TV shows

I have about 25-30 movies

I have about 15-20 games I could play, if I had the motivation.

This is what it is in all honesty. Just get past the idea that you can't play everything, and honestly you shouldn't. I collect Captain America and Ghostbusters stuff so sometimes I have to get past that I really don't need x collectible. I also collect comics and its a hard mental thing for me to get past that maybe I should just stop reading/buying comic books.

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In hindsight, since some people are interpreting the post as me having FOMO, the title should've been Having Too Many Good Games At The Same Time Is Ruining Games As An Art Form, but that title would've been even more dramatic and pretentious.

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Dray2k

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#15  Edited By Dray2k

@flackbyte said:

@dray2k: Just to be clear. The times I put are just to get to credits in a games. 100% takes twice or more the times I posted. Also talking about art is really important for the development of a given art form, my point is that is much harder, nigh impossible with games. The "you don't have to complete it" is questionable, imagine if I said to you "I read half of the first Lord of the Rings Book, I got the feel of it. Here's my analysis.".

I disagree strongly. Games capture atmosphere (story, chracters, settings, graphics, soundscape) and gameplay (controls, genre) differently than books. You can capture to experience of a book by reading through it fully. With a game, you can understand it by just playing through it to a degree. Books and games aren't the same medium, too. You can argue that you can feel any sort of medium just by interacting with it (looking at artwork, listening to music, etc).

There are exceptions, but its mostly to complete the message of the game, Nier: AM does this but its a fairly short game to complete if you skip the side stuff, and you don't need them in order to "get" the experience. Thats the beauty of gaming.

What I mean is that time should not fully be required to enhance your experience with any of these things. For me, running around aimlessly in BOTW was more of a compelling experience than finishing it. Its up to you of what you want to spend your time with.

EDIT: Culturally, disecting the medium can be part of the experience but it is not the full requirement to talk about all games. This also depends on how any person is interpreting their own experience and experience with the game in order to analyze it. Its a matter of personal experience with games and gaming and that is what makes approaching games especially a unique factor. You don't analyze books or paintings the same way you may analyze video games. Not to mention this goes in more than one direction simply as interactivity adds a whole than lets say watching a television show.

Also I'm not implying that you're wrong, its just that many roads do lead to Rome so to speak. The path you're willing to take is one of your own choosing.

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GERALTITUDE

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I don't understand! But, I will try to say what I think on this topic. Rather long, sorry, but this is a very interesting thing to think about.

In the world of written text, between poems, plays, short stories & books, it has been too large a medium for any 1 person to be an authority or even a generalist for well over 100 years. There are a lot of games in the world, but not as many as there are texts to study.

This is partially why things like "the canon" exist, so that institutions can make up a list of what they think is important, and build their study around it. This was how they justified giving you a piece of paper that said "hey you know about this." But it does not reflect reality. The canon doesn't exist. It's subjective. But it's how they limited study. Makes senseish. The canon being thrown out of most institutions has caused a lot of chaos, but it was the right way to go.

There's no actual value that comes from experiencing all of a medium, so far as we know, but it's hard to prove because no human has ever done this, in any medium. There's no example. Specialization is valuable. There is a lot of proof to this. This is why you have scholars for extremely specific branches, such as post-modern, American literature, written by upper-class women. 9th century old english texts *after* a first translation. 19th century, post-colonial, civil war texts by authors foreign to their culture. I spent four years effectively studying subtle & overt violence in Hemingway & Carver. You can dedicate your life to any subset of any medium because that medium is enormous, and to derive real detail from even the smallest pocket takes time. Lots of time. Playing a game once is not a real equivalent to criticism. Play that game 12 times, every year for 5 years and you are starting to get near to real critical approaches. Games (often) being long doesn't change the value of repeated reflection over time, and pursuing that repetition from varying angles & perspectives. So I'm not sure why it would matter that it's too hard for us to play "every game" once. That's not even necessarily valuable at all. As such, it seems odd to me that you think it's an issue game audiences are fractured. It's entirely a non-issue I think because all mediums are fractured.

I think there is an illusion, and there always has been, of general knowledge when it comes to music, movies or books. But it is definitely an illusion.

Steam is far, far more wide-reaching and international than most central services. As such, Steam makes it much more clear how impossible it is to grasp everything.

For example, every year the Oscars are on, people make this attempt at "having seen the important films of the year". But that's BS. Some of the best films of the year don't release in theatres. Or in your country. Same goes for TV. Award shows & coverage make all these mediums seem tiny, because they are so laser focused on, usually, America, or Western Europe big hits. You'd think in the last 10 years that only Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones + 5 random shows came out and mattered. But this isn't close to true. It's just marketing & access playing a role. They convince you about what matters. You think you know what matters and so pursue it to "see it all" not realizing you aren't in spitting distance of doing so.

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@dray2k: I disagree. I think that games, like you said, can be viewed by breaking them into parts and examining each part separately. To do that, yes, except for the story, you don't have to play the whole game. But you can also make a holistic analysis of a game that looks at subtext or tries to see if or how mechanics are being used as methaphore. For that, having played the game in depth is necessary.

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#19  Edited By Dray2k

@flackbyte: Looking into potential depth and context within a certain type of game is the path you've chosen to get the most out of the game but not everyone should be seeing it the same way as you do, thats what I mean. But thats not video gaming as a whole. Even just goofing around with a game is just as valid, thats the beauty of video games for ya.

Interactivity stems from your own personality and interaction with the medium and this is kinda the gist on how video games can feel like a seperated form of art unlike Movies and Books that don't share the same type of interactivity. All and all this is just another simplistic road to approach gaming but apart from that we're just choosing a different type of approach for the same type of art.

@geraltitude: This reads like a very sensible approach to the issues of consumption and perception of personal interest in doing things, like playing and potentially analyzing certain games.

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#21  Edited By flackbyte

@geraltitude: Thanks, man. That actually cleared a lot of stuff for me. Maybe I was doing the madness of looking for cannon and a common language in media as it comes out, which in retrospect is obviously impossible. The best way to do that, similarly to what is done with other forms of art is by looking back, where the dust has had more time to settle. I'll think some more about what you wrote.

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Dray2k

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#22  Edited By Dray2k

@flackbyte: I don't want to devolve this into a pissing contest and have perhaps misinterpreted your tone here but you didn't add anything to your text but a implication of "I'm still correct though" which feels very strange to say the least. Written letters aren't the best way to add tone after all.

Perhaps elaborating on your really, really good points might help. Or perhaps you meant to type "you" instead of "I"? At any case, read your quote again, perhaps its just an error.

Anyway, sorry if I came off as rude, certainly didn't want that!

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flackbyte

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@dray2k: No. He made a lot a good points. I'm still thinking about them. I don't think this is a discussion where anyone can be "correct" or that being "correct" is productive.

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@dray2k said:

Anyway, sorry if I came off as rude, certainly didn't want that!

Me too.

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Dray2k

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#25  Edited By Dray2k
@flackbyte said:

@dray2k: No. He made a lot a good points. I'm still thinking about them. I don't think this is a discussion where anyone can be "correct" or that being "correct" is productive.

Yeah and thats also a very similar approach and standpoint from where I'm coming from, just from a different perspective, or "road" if you will.

Anyway, I'm glad that the "issue" has been sorted out. Its always nice to read on different opinions on the matters at hand, otherwise participating in topics like these would be very pointless.

EDIT: Fixed the quote. Sorry if I came off as insulting to you, duder (saying that twice as thats my last words on the matter)!

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This is just a thing that's been bugging me. So let me throw some numbers, talk a bunch and you tell me what you make of it, okay?

204*.

That's the number of all movies that had a limited or wide release in Theaters in the US and/or Canada in 1985.

Some more numbers:

4207*.

That's the number of games released on Steam in 2016. Not all games, not even all PC games; that's just the games on Steam that year.

While I agree that steam is not very well designed to handle this many games being realeased on the plattform, too many of them get lost in the crowd. But I have a couple of questions about your premise:

1. You compare the 1985's release schedule for movies with 2016's steam releases, why? Either compare 1985 movie releases with 1985 computer games releases or, probably more relevant to this, compare 2016's movie releases with 2016's steam releases. As you can see in the link the releases are not quite as many as the game releases, but it's a lot closer.

2. Your complaint is that the bigh titles are being released to close to each other and that makes them less likely to be played, true, but a lot of movies are released up against one another these days, and some, who are deserving of a bigger box office miss out. Such is the way of things. But more often than not the ones that suffer are the small releases that don't have the massive followings or ad campaigns of the games you mention, Even if I don't have time to play them all at release, I'll probably have time to pick them up a bit later on, especially since the games you bring up are Single player focused games that don't have to rely on a lot of users populating their multiplayer servers. Games have a lot longer tail than movies in that even if I wait a few months on a game it's still there ready to be played on my big monitor, but if I wait that long on a movie it's probably not playing in the theaters anymore.

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yup. enjoying things is hard, man