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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 2767  
Subject: Why we keep buying games Date: 6/6/2003 10:15 AM
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I started to write this as part of a comment, in another thread, and I realized it was worth a separate topic.

Why is it that we, as gamers, always seem to be buying games? Logically, there are some pretty good games out there, enough that you'd think we'd be consistently entertained by them.

Computer games have built-in obsolescence. Sometimes because there's a fixed story, and not just in adventure games or RPGs. That's something that annoys me about many strategy games for the PC these days, they include a story-based campaign. Instead of a general game they have fixed scenarios, so that there's little or no point in playing the game a second time.

With more open-ended strategy games, which resemble board games more in being games instead of puzzles, eventually you learn the best strategies or the quirks of the AI. Once the process of playing becomes mechanical instead of thought provoking, continued play isn't as much fun.

Board games, of course, are played against human opponents, so they don't have the weakness of predictable AI play. Well, aside from the couple of really bad players who used to frequent that game club in Redondo Beach... but I digress. A reasonably good set of opponents will improve with time.

My theory is that fun is about making interesting decisions, something I've said before elsewhere.

When we first start playing a game, we don't understand it well enough to weigh the decisions properly, so the decisions aren't as fun because they seem a little arbitrary. When we've learned a bit more, the fun peaks as we know enough to understand the consequences, but not so much that the answer is obvious. After we're vetrans at a particular game, the fun begins to fall as the decisions begin to resemble old ones, and we either know the answer from experience, or they just seem like repetitions of earlier experiences.

A game's longevity, then, would be related to the variety of decisions it offers, and the difficulty of learning the correct answers through sheer experience rather than careful thinking.

- Gus
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