Why Do We Replay Certain Games?
In looking at the games I frequently play over and over throughout the years, I've noticed there doesn't appear to be one single recurring reason.
So what is it exactly? Why do we find ourselves playing through some games and not others? Why do we finish some and go, "oh man, I'm playing this again immediately!" (and then it never happens), and finish others and say, "that was cool but I'll probably never touch this again" (and then play it ten more times)...? What's the determining factor? Is there one? Obviously, one could argue that nostalgia plays a very large role; we often want to relive our lost years, a time when everything seemed simpler, when our entertainment seemed purer and more fulfilling. Of course, our mind subconsciously blocks out any of the negatives for the sole purpose of deifying that precious memory, but we're aware of that, right?
So nostalgia factors in, as does the quality of the game. We don't play garbage over and over. But wait...I distinctly recall playing 3D Baseball for endless hours - even did a 162-game season twice - and that game was hardly the class of the PlayStation era. Plus, I've played a few RPGs that really weren't all that great and yet, there I go, running through 'em again (Granstream Saga and Thousand Arms, anyone?). So obviously, personal preference plays a major role, as one might expect. Oh, but hold on a moment...what sort of preference? Preference for the genre or a particular atmosphere? The only GTA I'll go back to play from time to time is Vice City and it's because I'm a big fan of the '80s setting.
Still, what's the deal with Hot Shots Golf? I don't play golf; I don't watch golf; I play no other golf games; the series itself isn't drop-dead fantastic, and yet, I'll play and adore every last HSG...and keep playing 'em over time. So maybe we need a sub-genre called "personal playability," i.e., there's just something about a game that pleases you, and while it's difficult to pinpoint the source, it continues to attract us like a magnet. Lastly, we've got those addictive - almost annoyingly addictive - little games that can grab hold and never let go; it's why we can all play Tetris today and still have fun. Man, this is all way more complicated than I thought. Then again, maybe it's just me. That's very, very possible.
So, why do you think you replay the games you do? Why are certain games in your permanent replay rotation? Have you really thought about the "whys?" Or am I just over-analyzing for no reason?
11/26/2010 Ben Dutka