Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 14, 2021
Barriers to entry and exit

On my PC I usually have a limited number of games installed. And of those there usually are just one or two which I consider myself to be "currently playing". Only a minor part of that is a technical limitation: The 557 games GOG Galaxy 2.0 says I have access wouldn't all fit on my hard drives simultaneously. The bigger part is that whenever I start a game, it takes me some time to learn the controls and then the finer points of gameplay, strategy, and tactics.

The result of this is that when I stop playing a game and start playing the next one, it becomes harder and harder over time to go back to the game I stopped playing, because I simply forget what I was currently doing in that game, or the details of the controls. Once in a while I go through the list of games installed on my PC, and uninstall those that for some reason I stopped playing a while ago. There are so many new games, taking up an old game again isn't that interesting in comparison.

Like most players, there are a lot of games that I start but never finish. And there are relatively few games that I finish playing, want more, and thus start playing again from the start. Sometimes I make a conscious decision to stop playing something. But it also happens that my plan was to just take a short break from a game while playing the new shiny that caught my eye, and three months later I notice that I never got back to that game.

Being conscious of that leads to some weird situations, like the one I am currently in: I am playing Wasteland 3, and I am not enjoying it as much as the other CRPG games I played this year. But somehow I am also reluctant to start playing something else, because that would probably mean that I never take it up again. I've only done one of the three children of the patriarch, so I guess I haven't seen even half of the game yet. In theory I should like the XCom-like combat system much more than I actually do. Does the game "get good" later, or is it really just not so much fun?

So there is not only a barrier to entry into a game, where it takes some time and effort to get into the game. But also a barrier to exit, where the FOMO (fear of missing out) makes me play a game longer than I am actually having fun with it. I'll probably overcome that soon, because honestly, I don't think my life will be any worse if I don't get to see the ending of Wasteland 3. But maybe I'll do the second son before stopping.

I really enjoyed Wasteland 3. And I'd say the later chapters are more of the same. If you're not convinced after the first child, you probably won't like the rest of the game.

Honestly combat got worse later on in my opinion.

Late game the combat turned into a game of whichever side could Alpha strike down the other first won.

I played when the game launched though so idk if updates changed that.
My experience with why we stick to some games and not others is inversely proportionate to how many games are at-hand. For example: when I was in my twenties I played the hell out of the Gold Box D&D games, not so much because they were amazing (well, for their time they were pretty fun) but because they were both all I had and all my aging PC of the time could run. I can't even stomach firing up my nostalgia buy copies on GOG today.

Fast-forward to 2021 and I am in the same boat as you. I have oveer 1,000 games on Steam alone (never mind Xbox, Playstation, GOG, Epic and Ubisoft) and I will fire up a game like Wasteland 3 which might be an amazing game if I only had 2 or 3 games in my roster (hell, even if I had 20 or 30!) and I stop it after a few minutes because it just doesn't have that "thing" it needs to keep me playing over checking out one of the 1,000 other game options I have to choose from. For me the FOMO comes from thinking, "Why should I play this okay game when I might be wasting time better spent on the as-yet-unfound AMAZING game in my roster?" And as a result I ironically end up going back to play Destiny or Ghost Recon more and ignore everything else.

The digital age is tough as it did not come with trashcans or a way to sell secondhand games.
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