It occurred to me recently that nearly all the energy I put into video games is anticipatory. I care infinitely more - as a general rule - for a game that hasn't been released than one that has. I seem to care more about games when they haven't come out yet.
Take Resistance 3, for example. Prior to its release I was actually hyped enough to consider buying it over Dead Island - and now that it's out, I find I couldn't really care less about it. Now, no doubt the fact that my gaming calendar has been packed tight since mid-September has something to do with that, but still...
We pour over previews and read multiple reviews and keep track of every single trailer released for a game - for many titles (Enslaved, Uncharted 3), we may invest more time in consuming their media prior to release than playing the actual game.
Perhaps that's the nature of the beast, here. Nobody cares about the movie that came out last year - we're all concerned about what's coming up. We're insatiably curious - we want to see new things and have new experiences - but is that all it is?
I don't believe so.
Spec Ops: The Line
I think - perhaps have to think - that it's a sign of hopefulness on our parts. We want to believe that the next great-looking game in our favorite genre could be The Game. The game that could be the game we believe can exist. Like Skyrim - I wasn't very hyped for Skyrim, but I wanted to believe.
"I must admit, after sifting through its media and reading previews, I have bought into the hype that Skyrim could be the Elder Scrolls game that lives up to the game we foster, wrapped in swaddling in our fertile gamer minds. A rich, full world teeming with smallfolk and small stories. A grand scope and inspired scale, a leveling system that makes sense (and doesn't require you jump everywhere you go to increase your acrobatics skill) and a game that's not rife with technical errors. The fantasy world that lives and breathes within our imaginations - I want to play that game!
I choose hope."
Once a game comes out, it's (almost) never The Game. Skyrim is bloody incredible, and still suffers from your standard Bethesda technical gubbins. Uncharted 3 is the most gorgeous game I've ever seen, and remains very imperfect.
Some times, though, a game actually manages to achieve what you hope it will be. More often than not - for me, at least - those are the games that manage to successfully suspend your disbelief. Games like BioShock and Dark Souls and yes, Skyrim, that overcome the fact that they're merely video games with such fantastic immersion and atmosphere that you forget - for a moment or a mile, here and there - that you've got a Dualshock in your hand.
I think that's what we hope for the most, when we spend our time watching trailers and reading previews and pouring over media. We hope for a game that can truly, for a time, become our world entire.
The Last Guardian
Perhaps that's it. Maybe it's because Darksiders II or Spec Ops: The Line or BioShock Infinite really could be all these things we haven't experienced in years or ever in our lives.
Once BioShock or Darksiders comes out, of course, that's what it is - and that's all it can ever be. Prior to its release, it has so much more potential. It could be anything. It could be The Game.
I'm gonna' go watch that Grand Theft Auto V trailer again.