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Loyal to a Fault: How refusing to open up to new games deprives you of a unique experience

A recent interaction has left me pondering the weird tendencies we have as gamers. I pride myself on enjoying a variety of games that span the categorical spectrum, from platforming to puzzle games and MMOs. Like so much of the gaming zeitgeist, the Battle Royale genre captured my attention. Fortnite wasn’t my cup of tea, but PUBG was like a sweet cup of digital coffee. For months the glitch-heavy shooter would soak up my free time, adding to my ever-growing backlog of games. I decided to move on and focus on single player affairs, using my free time to add more notches to my gaming belt.

Then Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 released. The First-Person Shooter quickly struck a chord and fulfilled Battle Royale needs I wasn’t even aware I had. My new obsession was firmly in place, only to be contended by a bevy of new games that land onto store shelves and online store fronts with the force and subtlety of a hurricane.

Credit: Bluehole

Over the past few years, I took to gifting my family members games we can all play together. Despite our age, we still try connecting on some level; gaming is it. The natural course of events is to move on from one game to the next; yet, like visiting with an old friend, there is comfort in returning to your digital nostalgia. I can’t count how many times this wayward son has returned to Ocarina of Time. But what happens when you are unable to appreciate a new entry in a series or even a new franchise altogether because or your unwillingness to move past what was? It’s simple; you could be missing out. Suffice to say that gaming can be an expensive hobby, if your wallet prevents you from a new game, that is perfectly understandable, and is an exemption to this notion. Otherwise, what are you waiting for?

Replaying a video game has value. After all, you’re merely appreciating the thousands of combined hours that went into making it, as well as the highly valued result of time, effort, and creativity. Games as service and DLC has changed the landscape, extending the shelf life of your beloved video games by months, even years, compared to past generations. But all good things come to an end; eventually, you move on. The issue at hand is when we hold on so tightly to an experience with game A, that game B – a potential gem – seems like rubbish.

That’s Not How (BLANK) Does It

Credit: Treyarch

As our squad ran across the barren outskirts of a gasping desert, our eyes were peeled, waiting for the faint traces of movement from our enemy. I go prone to stabilize my shot better, then leer down my scope in hopes of the faintest sign of opposition. The party goes silent, until…

“Why can’t I look around? PUBG lets you view your character in both first person and third person. You can do a 360 with the camera to check your surroundings. I don’t like the first person only. Can you at least peak to the left and right like PUBG?”

Sadly, our squad spent the next two hours being audibly bombarded by comparisons between Call of Duty: Black Ops and PUBG. But fear not, we held out hope that the most recent Battle Royale release, Apex Legends, may appease this fickle critic’s gaming wants. No such luck. Our squad was once again subjected to hours of notes on how PUBG outperforms EA’s take on the genre, “PUBG is more realistic; it takes more skill to parachute to distant locations, the hitboxes are more accurate.” This last statement is highly contentious, but the team acquiesced.

The situation begs obvious questions. Why does the team continue to put up with this guy? Why would we spend our precious free time with a PUBG apologist? Who is this cantankerous member of the squad? Sigh, he’s my brother, and in its own way, gaming together is a casual means of staying in touch. You don’t get to pick family.

Did We Just Have Fun?

Credit: Sony Pictures

Games are inherently different. As gamers, or even humans for that matter, it’s natural for us to make such comparisons, but when you pick apart every aspect of a game with laser-like precision, you can’t see the forest for the trees. My brother couldn’t set aside his inexplicable loyalty to a game he picked up the year prior. In doing so, he was mired in the details, desperate for an opportunity to scrutinize over how this gaming experience strayed from his comfort zone. He stood in the way of his own unique prospect for discovery of something outside of the tried and true.

My brother questioned the very thing that makes games so distinct from one another; the character designs and development, the game physics, the story, and the systems in place that define what’s capable within this realm, including how the user operates within in it. He seemed to have an inverted paradigm. Rather than look forward to the new mechanics and possibility of moving forward, he shunned it with xenophobic loathing. Yet, hope remained.

The best approach is to take note of the differences but be willing to embrace the change. If you genuinely give the new experience a chance, a sincere benefit of the doubt, and still find your experience lacking, then by all means, move on. You remained open-minded, unbiased to the unknown and gave it the proverbial “college try.” You can’t be faulted for not liking something or being dissatisfied with a product; the problem lies in failing to open yourself up to the opportunity.

The assortment of mechanics from one game to the next isn’t a detriment; it’s a boon to the gaming community at large. Every game is a new opportunity for that simplest of words that I’ve purposely harped on, experience. New worlds to explore, fresh lore to engorge on, novel online interactions, and possibly gaining a few new go-to friends for your squad are all possibilities.

As my brother begrudgingly poured more time into Apex Legends something began to stir within him. He started pinging opponents and places of interest like it was his day job, he found his “Main” in Bangalore, Apex’s resident badass and offense-heavy character, and he was calling formations like a grizzled war vet. Dare I say it, he began having fun. These opportunities for exploration aren’t relegated to the ubiquitous Battle Royale Genre either. Puzzle games, platformers, adventure, online MMO, shooters, and genres I’m sure I missed (the comments section will assuredly correct me) all are ripe for your potential unearthing.

Maybe it happened subconsciously, or perhaps he gave himself up to the process without letting us know, his ego unwilling to admit as much. Regardless of what spurred this turn of opinion, He found himself thoroughly enjoying something new.

It all boils down to a basic premise. After giving this new game a chance, did I enjoy myself? If the answer is yes – or even no — mission accomplished. You approached it with an open mind, that’s all that can be asked.

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