June 26, 2021

Reconnecting with the way most people actually play games

Last year, I encountered an urban legend of videogaming for the first time, the mythical Big November. November, people had told me for years, is the busiest time of the year for gaming, a time when every publisher scrambles to release something that you, or your children, then inevitably put on the Christmas wish lists to spend the cold months inside with. Finally, after years of hearing about Big November like Nessie from the depths, I experienced it. I experienced the start of gaming season in a year in which time is essentially meaningless. It led to me playing a lot of games in rapid succession, and I didn't like it. Yet I often see it suggested that for many people, this is the done thing.

Because two new consoles released and those tend to sell better if you simultaneously offer people some games to play on them, I played a lot of games in the span of one week, and so did my colleagues. I saw talk about a game for less than a week before people moved on to the next one, and something that released two weeks ago impossibly felt like old news already. I saw people make lists of all the games coming out in the span of a week that they wanted to get their hands on. "Get that in before Cyberpunk" was a phrase I heard often.

Sure, this is a symptom of my job, but everyone knows there are more games released per month, any month, than you could feasibly play. Then there's sales that constitute a regular temptation and the pile of shame that isn't so much a pile of shame as it is a bit of a status symbol. But there is a weird paradox of gaming being a perfect example for the trappings of capitalism, telling you how you need the cool thing of the hour now, and many games taking quite a lot of focus and time. The excitement around new releases made me forget that most people don't actually get all the stuff immediately, and that many of us just like to announce our intent of getting a game, you know, sometime.

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