Friday, September 11, 2009

GameFly: Week 1 Retrospective

It has been a week since my first two GameFly games arrived, so it's time to do a little analysis on how renting games has affected my daily flow of gaming. The good news here is that there is no polar extreme in either the positives and the negatives.

I am actually enjoying the idea of playing the full game before I consider purchasing them. It is just, for a lack of a better word, smart. Case in point, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Yeah, it is a fun game and all but having ploughed through the first 3-4 hours of the game, I don't see myself playing this game ever again after I am done with it. I have even decided to not buy this game in the future. Without GameFly, I probably would have eventually picked this up. Of course, there is that question of ownership that is embedded into the mind of every collector out there no matter what it is that he or she collects. GameFly has slightly improved the way I look at my game library. It makes me think about the less abstract worthiness of a game before it becomes a part of my collection. I do a lot of research before I buy my games but we all know that no amount of research can match actually experiencing these games themselves.

Let us back up for a bit here before proceeding. It is necessary for me to explain myself a bit more before I explore this matter a little deeper. As I have stated in a previous article, renting video games used to be something that I do not accept for the simple reason that I want to "own" my games and I want to have easy access to them whenever I want to play them. It is this basic discipline that lead me to the 1,982 games that I currently have in my collection thus far. But not too long ago, I was put into a situation that forced me to delve into the very nature of "ownership" and permanency. For the most part, we feel in our daily lives that we have total control over the things we own when in actuality, there is a fine line that defines it and at a moment's notice, that line is crossed and you lose all of that control you thought you have. Coming to terms with losing something so important in my life was a difficult journey for me and it made me realize that "ownership" is not synonymous to control and control is just a coping mechanism that doesn't work on all occasions. Why do I buy so many games? Because I love them. But why so many? Because it's a hobby and I want to have a huge game library. Why not sell the games you ended up hating? Because it's a reminder to pick the right games next time. But why so many games? Because I can then have many options to choose from at any given time. But seriously, why so many games? Because it gives me a sense of control.

I am going to stop there because I don't want to get too personal. There are a lot of things that I wanted to say about the topic but I will have to revisit this venture into the Loner Gamer's psychology another day - I have to be in the right frame of mind to do just that. Basically, what I am trying to explain, perhaps quite poorly, is I realized that buying video games doesn't define the core experience of being a video gamer. Instead, it has always been about PLAYING the games. Buying video games satisfy a different need that is separate from the actual notion of video gaming in its simplest form. Do not mistake this as me saying that collecting video games is a bad thing. We all do what makes us happy. What I am saying is that having a large collection of video games may translate to a deeper need for something else. At least in my case. It doesn't take away how valuable my game library is to me. It just makes the whole thing a little more... substantial.

Back to GameFly. So, I enjoy being able to access full games to add to my decision making process. I m also enjoying the idea that I can now play games that I would never consider buying in the first place - thus further expanding my video gaming universe. Somewhere in my queue are curious games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Terminator: Salvation. The funny thing about this is that these games may end up being so entertaining, I may want to actually add them into my game library! Batman: Arkham Asylum that I recieved from GameFly last week is another good example of this. I would never play the console version of this game but thanks to GameFly, I was able to make that happen quite easily.

Now, for the bad. First and foremost, for the first time in my life, playing games actually stresses me out a bit. Right now, I feel like I am rushing to finish Wolverine because I really want to get it out of the way so that I can get the next game I have in my queue. I didn't feel that way about Arkham Asylum though so this is obviously related to the individual quality of these games. I know I can just return Wolverine back to GameFly but I know that if I do that, I would not have rented it again. In a normal situation of me buying my games, I would not have to deal with this because I could just stop playing the game to revisit at another time... But then again, I probably wouldn't even revisit the game. Well, at least not in a long while.

These rentals are surely giving me issues with time management. With my World of Warcraft addiction reaching a delirious new high, I find myself struggling with forcing myself to play the rental games. I play video games based on my mood and not let the games define what I play, so often times I feel myself enjoying these rental games less than they deserve. This issue is directly related to the problem pointed out in the previous paragraph so if I take things easy and play these games more casually, I might be able to deal with it successfully.

As I mentioned earlier, there are good things and bad things with renting video games. only been a week so things may get better as time goes on. I have to keep reminding myself that I can take all the time I want with playing the rentals. I know that in the back of my mind, I want to be able to get a lot of games rented in a month's time because I like to be "cost-efficient" since I am paying for the service. So far, I think that there is a potential to GameFly being a part of my overall video gaming experience because it really doesn't take away anything from me. It surely hasn't stop me from buying new games - Muramasa was in my rental queue - but it sure adds a new perspective of video gaming into my life.

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