Forum > Gaming Discussion > Leo's State of the Industry Address and What it means to Modern Gamers. (Long!)
Leo's State of the Industry Address and What it means to Modern Gamers. (Long!)
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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 00:39:48
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____________________

The landscape of the gaming industry has changed dramatically over the last few years. Blame it on Sony for stealing the industry from Sega and Nintendo and bringing RPG's and 3D games to the masses. Blame it on Microsoft for catching the attention of the average PC-user and putting them in the same online arena as 13-year old console gamers. Blame it on Nintendo for attempting to capture everyone else through casual game play and the near abandoning of their marquee franchises.

Gaming used to be a niche thing the nerdy kids did together or the cool kids did behind closed doors so no one else knew. There were gamers, there was everyone else, and the distinction was clear. We had OUR hobby, everyone else had his or hers and we all coexisted peacefully. It was easy to identify yourself as a gamer then, whether you would admit it in public or not. Things were simpler during this "Golden Age" and it's a time many of us look back to with wholehearted nostalgia.

Gaming these days is just NOT that simple. You have more types of people of all ages and backgrounds vying for the attention of the industry. Even the industry itself is in complete disarray. You have Hollywood, on one hand, blaming game releases for poorer opening sales of movie tickets, while on the other, trying to break into the business themselves to re-capture some of those lost entertainment dollars. (How did Boom Blox turn out for ya Mr. Spielberg?)

Heads of development houses like CliffyB, Ken Levine, Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima, once nerds that were pushed around a schoolyard, are being elevated to the status of superstars. (Maybe we should start callin' him ShiggyM?) The world has turned its gaze towards our favorite pastime and things may never be the same.

Like it or not boys and girls, we're a big business now. If the resilience of the industry during one of the worst economic periods in US history since the Great Depression isn't evidence of this, then nothing is! Like I said before, all eyes are on us.

What does this mean to individuals? You got the old-schoolers bithchin' about the lack of their favorite franchises. You got the 10-year olds learning whole new colorful ways to insult someone's race or sexuality via their headsets. You got the soccer moms, while waiting on line at Best Buy to purchase their Wii Fit, asking any teen-age guy if Luxor 3 or Ninja Bread Man would be a better purchase for their kid for Christmas, while mentally trying to decide if they would rather have Cooking Mamma or Brain Age 2 for their new Nintendo DS. (Cats and Dogs, truly living together; the age of Anarchy has arrived.) But I digress...

Individuals who call themselves gamers are being assaulted from every angle now. TV commercials, System Wars, Huge Marketing Budgets are all starting to influence our everyday thoughts and it's wreaking havoc on our decision-making abilities.

[Side note: You've heard me spout on before about how games affect us in ways no other media can. Songs get stuck in your head, but fade when the next popular single is released. Guys (still the majority of the players out there) are very visual creatures, responding more to colors, curves and flashing lights than women respond to emotion, reason and instinct. The most tactile of all activities, sex, is now even taking a backseat to game playing. (Uh-oh.) When a game, the perfect melding of visual, aural and tactile stimulus, delivers ALL of these things at once, we are rendered unwitting, but absolutely willing slaves, and all resistance is left utterly futile. Games leave a stronger imprint on our brains than anything else and the memories persist after other things would normally fade away.]

So here we are, caught in the current currents of a sea of electronic bewitchery. Game Forums, Holiday Seasons, Peer Pressure and Midnight Releases are deciding for us what we should or should not want. Add to that, the Negative Correlation between Time spent playing Video Games and Attention Span and you can start to see where we I am going with this.

Before I continue though, let me ask a question: When's the last time you popped in a DVD, watched the first 45-minutes of it, then popped IT out, put in another, stopped IT after 25-minutes, then decided to go online to research movie new releases, then hopped in the car to go to Best Buy to buy a new movie, with the first two left unfinished? Doesn't make sense, does it? Then WHY do we regularly, acceptably do that with games? The fault isn't entirely ours.

Shorter attention spans, the addictive qualities of gaming and worldwide influence has turned us all into the kind of consumer marketers formerly used to just dream about. Notoriously hard to please, yet utterly insatiable we are the gaming community of the new millennia. Never satisfied with what's currently in our console, always looking forward to the next big thing, we are at the same time the industries biggest headache AND their freshly baked bread and creamy butter. People constantly complain about game developers not making the game he or she wants, but who can blame them when we don't even know what we want?

If the effects were ONLY felt in our wallets, it wouldn't be so much of a problem, but I think what is happening to our attention spans, decision making abilities, social interactions, even the way we look at each other when we are away from our consoles, is starting to be affected. THAT is the biggest problem facing gamers today, and I am hoping I can help.

I am a bit of a gaming historian. I've seen this industry at it's humble beginnings and have been with it straight through to this very day. I've played 'em all, I've seen it all, and although I've yet to catch 'em all, I think I have a pretty good perspective on what's been going on.

In History, they say you have to know where you've been to know where it is you are going. I am saying it is every modern day gamer's responsibility to do the same. What I hope everyone would do is this:

  • Step away from your backlog of games. It's an evil distraction that calls out to you when you are near to it and clouds your ability to think clearly. Go in a separate room, if necessary.
  • Make a list of your favorite games, or if you are like me and you have it online, check your highest rated games. Pay particular attention to those games that you have completed. If you've played it from beginning to end, the rating is truer than if you rated it, just to rate it. Popular opinion is not what we are looking for here. It is a list of YOUR favorite games.
  • What do those games have in common? For me, for example, I like what I call "Conditional Platformers." Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night top my list. I also like RPG's with extremely unique game play systems. Vagrant Story and The World Ends With You fit that category quite nicely. Moral decisions in a strong story, as in Ogre Battle 64 and BioShock also interest me greatly. 2D or Rail Shooters are also up there for me, as in the Contra or Panzer Dragoon series.
  • No two gamer's lists or commonalities are going to be the same. That's fine. Even if you do share a few things with other people, that's fine too. What I am trying to get you to do is to distinguish between games you've purchased because you wanted them VERSUS games you've purchased JUST because they were popular.
  • Is there a larger number of one versus the other? How many games do you own that don't really fit into the categories of the games you've rated highly AND completed? Just HOW BIG is that backlog? What is IT comprised of? You know, if you really, really wanted to play that game, you probably would have done so already. The problem is we tell ourselves we'll save the backlog for a time when there are no other games we have to play or purchase, but that time will NEVER come. There will ALWAYS be more games to purchase. Worse still, ever buy a game, put it into your backlog and then trade it in or sell it before ever getting around to play it? What a phenomenal waste of money!
  • Keep in mind, it's OK to not like a game everyone else seems to love. Not all tastes are the same, that's part of my point. Once you start seeing a pattern of the types of games you don't like, use it as your guide. Tell yourself: "I don't care how popular _________ is, it's just NOT my type of game." Learning what you DON'T like is just as (if not more) valuable than knowing what you DO like. Stick to your guns!
  • Finally, make a concentrated effort to finish the games you have started. Developers don't hop from one game to another in the middle of their production. Show them the respect their hard work and dedication deserves by doing the same. It'll make you a better player, you'll appreciate the whole experience more and it'll cut down on that whole ADHD thing going around these days!

It's time to let the backlog go. It's time to step up and be the gamer you've always dreamed of being. If more people would STOP buying games just because they are popular and started to identify and buy the games they TRULY love to play, so many good things would happen as a result. Gamers would feel a sense of satisfaction, achievement and completion, rather than hunger, restlessness and constant anticipation. Developers would get a clear message of the games they need to produce, rather than throwing as much poop at the wall to see what actually sticks. Wallets would fatten, franchises would be revived, relationships would be saved, and attention spans would be spared.

This is not over dramatization, this is reality. Letting other people call the shots for you, going with the majority just to fit in, or not having constant control over your decision making abilities are the beginning signs of addiction. For many gamers, it's not a question of when it will happen to them, but just how deeply addicted they already are without even being aware!

Gaming is not just a small time hobby anymore. More people are doing it, the ante has been raised, and the pressures and influences are stronger than they have ever been in history. Ask yourself this question: Do YOU want to be the one who helps decide the direction this industry takes or do you just want to be swept up with the flow?

I, for one, know my answer. I will be the first to admit I spend a lot on games and often allow myself to get swept up by the hype. I am in the unique position where I am fortunate enough to be able to afford to do so. Two things to keep in mind though: (1) Look at "My Collection" on GameSpot. It's ALWAYS current. What you see is what I have. There's almost never a time when I have a backlog that's too big to handle. If I am not playing it, it goes away. I always try to maintain in the back of my head the games I have always loved and am ever vigilant in my purchases, asking myself: "Am I buying this because I want to play it?" If I can't answer that question, then I either don't buy it or it doesn't last very long in my home. (2) I will ALWAYS lend a hand in helping new or older gamers either remember the games they have loved or I will always be at the ready to recommend a game to someone based on the foundations of the games they have already played.

I have always been proud to call myself a gamer. I will always be a gamer. I care for this industry. I care for the players. I refuse to sit by idly and let things fall apart around me. You may not see me post that much anymore, but that doesn't mean I am not there. I am playing, I am reading your posts, I am always standing by, willing to lend some advice or assist gamers who lose their way. When you devote as much time to something or love something as much as I do, as I said before, it's the only responsible thing to do.

Edited: Mon, 08 Dec 2008 02:33:28
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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 01:09:46
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Nice post Leo, but I want to add something. Sometimes it is good to take a leap of faith. Maybe the game is outside your comfort zone, but let that not stop you! You never know you might like it. I never played turn based strategy games, but I brought Advance Wars on the GBA because it was getting good reviews. I had no clue what is was about, but I brought it anyways,

I am hapy I did, because I freaking love that game. Now I am also interested in games like Fire Emblem because of it. I did the same thing with some anime movies, GG recommed some in his blog, so I watched them. I only knew the name and nothing more. It is sometimes very refreshing to go into something with zero expectations. Too high expectations can ruin a game!

phantom_leo said:

____________________

You may not see me post that much anymore, but that doesn't mean I am not there. I am playing, I am reading your posts, I am always standing by, willing to lend some advice or assist gamers who lose their way. 

 So you are watching my every move, kinky! Will you post more often if I post hawt men pics in the 1000 post celebration thread?

Edited: Mon, 08 Dec 2008 01:10:05
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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 01:22:12
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Awesome post, Leo!

I only buy what I truely want to play, but I sometimes rent the popular games just to see if I'll like them. For instance, I didn't think I'd like Bioshock, but after I rented it, I loved it. It's also rare that I buy more than one game at a time. My recent Black Friday purchases is an extremely rare event, thankfully. I doubt my bank account could handle buying games the way some hardcore gamers buy 'em--in bulk quantities.

Backlog is an interesting concept. I have a number of games that I haven't yet played to completion, but I still go back to them fairly regularly. Some games that I own will take me years to finish, not because I don't like them, but because I play them in smaller bites. Endless Ocean is a good example. I play it for an hour here, and an hour there. Eventually, I'll play through the entire game, but I don't force myself to finish it. I'm a  leisurely gamer, I suppose.

I stopped buying games from genres I don't like a long time ago, thankfully. It has saved me tons of money.

Edited: Mon, 08 Dec 2008 01:31:43

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 01:33:24
+1

Iga_Bobovic said:

Nice post Leo, but I want to add something. Sometimes it is good to take a leap of faith. Maybe the game is outside your comfort zone, but let that not stop you! You never know you might like it. I never played turn based strategy games, but I brought Advance Wars on the GBA because it was getting good reviews. I had no clue what is was about, but I brought it anyways,

I am hapy I did, because I freaking love that game. Now I am also interested in games like Fire Emblem because of it. I did the same thing with some anime movies, GG recommed some in his blog, so I watched them. I only knew the name and nothing more. It is sometimes very refreshing to go into something with zero expectations. Too high expectations can ruin a game!

phantom_leo said:

____________________

You may not see me post that much anymore, but that doesn't mean I am not there. I am playing, I am reading your posts, I am always standing by, willing to lend some advice or assist gamers who lose their way.

So you are watching my every move, kinky! Will you post more often if I post hawt men pics in the 1000 post celebration thread?

Why yes, yes I would!  Nyaa

This post has been on my mind for a while, but I never took the time to put it into words until today, so my thought's weren't quite as gathered as I would normally like them to be. It kinda flowed out, and there are things I would like to add, but I thought I would quit while the main body of it was done (for now)...

Yeah. You always have to go out on a limb and try new things to keep things fresh and interesting, BUT you took the time to read reviews and consider it first, you didn't just thoughtlessly purchase it like sooo many people do.

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 01:42:15
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phantom_leo said:

Iga_Bobovic said:

Nice post Leo, but I want to add something. Sometimes it is good to take a leap of faith. Maybe the game is outside your comfort zone, but let that not stop you! You never know you might like it. I never played turn based strategy games, but I brought Advance Wars on the GBA because it was getting good reviews. I had no clue what is was about, but I brought it anyways,

I am hapy I did, because I freaking love that game. Now I am also interested in games like Fire Emblem because of it. I did the same thing with some anime movies, GG recommed some in his blog, so I watched them. I only knew the name and nothing more. It is sometimes very refreshing to go into something with zero expectations. Too high expectations can ruin a game!

phantom_leo said:

____________________

You may not see me post that much anymore, but that doesn't mean I am not there. I am playing, I am reading your posts, I am always standing by, willing to lend some advice or assist gamers who lose their way.

So you are watching my every move, kinky! Will you post more often if I post hawt men pics in the 1000 post celebration thread?

Why yes, yes I would!  Nyaa

This post has been on my mind for a while, but I never took the time to put it into words until today, so my thought's weren't quite as gathered as I would normally like them to be. It kinda flowed out, and there are things I would like to add, but I thought I would quit while the main body of it was done (for now)...

Yeah. You always have to go out on a limb and try new things to keep things fresh and interesting, BUT you took the time to read reviews and consider it first, you didn't just thoughtlessly purchase it like sooo many people do.

 Yeah, I did kinda see all the awesome scores, so I brought it. The anime example was not really a good one, because I watched them on the net. So I did not have to pay for it, it is more difficult to just buy it when €50,- are at stake. Renting is a better option!

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 02:48:57
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Ladies and gents watch this space. Ideas are still bouncing around in my noggin' and I have added to this post a few times already!

(Do we have any ladies here yet? Maybe I should have said laddies and gents...? Eh. Whatever!)
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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 03:16:14
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Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Perfect Dark 64
Meteos
Super Mario Bros. 3
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

RPG, FPS, Puzzler, 2D platformer, 3D action-adventure... I think I found a flaw in your idea LOL

Honestly what I enjoy is playing all kinds of games, regardless of whether it's something I'd consider a great game.

I have a backlog right now based on timing, though.  I got sidetracked from gaming for a while as well as needing a mental break from it, and consequently played very little for a good while, but picked up some last-gen titles being cleared out that I actually do want to play but it hasn't been the time yet.

It's rare that I'll not finish a game based on the fact that I just don't like it enough to bother, though that did just happen with Odin Sphere.

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 03:39:58
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If you've been taking a break from gaming for a while and have been able to successfully do just that, you're not the kind of gamer to which I am addressing this topic.

And when ANYONE goes back to categorize the games they have liked in the past, it doesn't HAVE TO be FPS or RPG or SRPG type categories.

From your list, I would say you gravitate towards the kind of games Nintendo puts out on their consoles, and that's a specific category all unto itself.

Not everyone/everything can be classified. My answers were pretty diverse and different too. I am just trying to get people to be more aware of their own choices, rather than relying on the opinions of others.
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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 03:47:19
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Great post. Play what you like, check. Try and finish your games, check. In fact I usually try and finish a game before starting another, and playing multiple games at once usually diminishes the experience for each of them. For me anyway.

"[Side note: You've heard me spout on before about how games affect us in ways no other media can. Songs get stuck in your head, but fade when the next popular single is released. Guys (still the majority of the players out there) are very visual creatures, responding more to colors, curves and flashing lights than women respond to emotion, reason and instinct. The most tactile of all activities, sex, is now even taking a backseat to game playing. (Uh-oh.) When a game, the perfect melding of visual, aural and tactile stimulus, delivers ALL of these things at once, we are rendered unwitting, but absolutely willing slaves, and all resistance is left utterly futile. Games leave a stronger imprint on our brains than anything else and the memories persist after other things would normally fade away.]"

Proof pls.

    Children, our lives have been gongs striking; clamour and boasting; cries of despair; blows on the nape of the neck in gardens.

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 04:01:10
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There are plenty of articles out there. My original post had them hyper-linked in already.

Here's a few examples:

One

Two

Three

I know these aren't exactly "Journals of Psychology" ...but, I have read the actual Journals of Psychology that deal with the very topics listed in the side-noted paragraph. Sorry to say, it's scary, but it's becoming more and more true.
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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 04:06:55
And I recognise that distinction (I was mainly joking about the categories).  I know that if I get a baseball game, I'm going to get a tonne of playtime out of it, that JRPGs without random encounters are always enjoyable, and that 2D Mario is essentially my ambrosia.

My categorization is that I'm a critic.  I draw enjoyment directly from evaluating games, and that will drive me to finish the game regardless (though sometimes the game difficulty has something to say about that).

A good combination I find is to have two games to focus on, preferrably one console and one handheld.  At least for me, unless the game is totally engrossing, I'll alternate between wanting to play something in-depth like an RPG while occasionally wanting a segmented experience such as just playing a single round in a sports game.
Edited: Mon, 08 Dec 2008 04:07:51

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 08:13:15

phantom_leo said:
There are plenty of articles out there. My original post had them hyper-linked in already.

Here's a few examples:

One

Two

Three

I know these aren't exactly "Journals of Psychology" ...but, I have read the actual Journals of Psychology that deal with the very topics listed in the side-noted paragraph. Sorry to say, it's scary, but it's becoming more and more true.

Psychology isn't proof either. It's more pseudo science. Nyaa

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 10:42:55
Holy crap. I will have to read that later. It's huge. Happy

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:17:57
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gamingeek said:
Holy crap It's huge. Happy

Yeah. I get that alot. Smiley face and all.

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:26:24

phantom_leo said:

gamingeek said:
Holy crap It's huge. Happy

Yeah. I get that alot. Smiley face and all.

 LOL 

Edited: Mon, 08 Dec 2008 12:27:06

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 22:51:07

Ravenprose said:

phantom_leo said:

gamingeek said:
Holy crap It's huge. Happy

Yeah. I get that alot. Smiley face and all.

 LOL 

 Leo I just did a huge update in the 1000th post party, Get ready for Sexyama!

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 22:52:58
+1
first off i have to say i really respect the fact that you manage to hold onto what you love about games without having to physically latch onto a copy of said game for the sake of having it, or just to feel the safety that you could experience it again any time you wanted to (even though in all likelihood you will not)

i have since some time now gone from being a gamer first and foremost and someone who for a long time couldn't even afford a single game (i grew up in the arcades because consoles were for a very long time too expensive for my working class background), to more of a collector with time and energy to play but a small fraction of what i bought.  i am guilty of a lot of those behaviours you describe in your post ... i have bought games because they were hailed as masterpieces knowing i didn't even have an interest in playing them (for example i tried and didn't like GTAIII however that not only didn't stop me from buying it ... it didn't stop me from buying Vice City and San Andreas either.)

i have a vast backlog of games a lot of which i know i may never get to play.  for almost a year now, my place has been turned into a daycare centre for my two nieces and one nephew which pretty much means that console gaming is out of the question ... yet I bought well over ten wii games in this year (most of them still shrinkwrapped) somehow thinking/wishing i will get to play them one day, but deep down realising i most probably won't, certainly not all of them, since my life is busier than it has ever been (with working full-time, studying in my spare time towards a second university degree, training bjj three times a week and often deejaying on weekends).  there are days when my only playing time is ... (excuse me for this) when i'm on the bog.  i think i got hooked to collecting games more so than to playing them, and frankly it's wrong.

something happened recently which made me reconsider my approach to this and to the whole collecting obsession of my personality.  my flat in london (well not my own but where I used to live and where a lot of my stuff still was) was burgled and that way I lost my xbox and entire collection of xbox games (well over 50 games with many special ones like jet set radio future, panzer dragoon orta, KOTOR I & II, shenmue 2, psychonauts and many others), one of my gamecubes and part of my GC collection (tons of good games and also my DK bongos etc), my N64 with 4 controllers and a massive collection of cartridges, a lot of them bought expensively and with difficulty on ebay (like banjo kazooie, tooie, donkey kong 64, majora's mask, conker, perfect dark and many other classics), one GBC and at least 20 highly collectible GB and GBC games.  Anyway i was really distrought but i think i came back a better person and decided to try and hold on to things (emotions, ideas, feelings) internally and not to attach importance to the box. (i wrote a blog about this if anyone wants to read more).  i'm trying with varying degrees of success to overcome this addiction and to be more like you in how i am a gamer (also about the other things i buy like DVDs, books, records etc).  anyway this is what your post made me think about, sorry if i went on too long.  peace

___

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008 23:03:20

Yikes bugs, sad to hear that.

I responded to this in your blog at GS, I will say the same thing here. I agree with I guess pretty much everything you say. I try to finish every game I get, its only when there are major sales and I pick up games I normally wouldnt that I dont finish them.

I am extremely aware of what I like and dont like. Hype does not phase me, I rarely get shocked, I rarely get angry at a game cause its "overrated", why cause I pretty much know what I am getting before I play it. I know exactly what I want most of the time.

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Tue, 09 Dec 2008 01:24:07
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Damn Bugs, I am so, so very sorry to hear that... Sad

Having everything taken from you like that is a shock that a lot of people don't recover from too easily. (I know from personal experience, but I wasn't as attached to my stuff as you were. I am by no means a collector of anything.)

You have the right attitude about it now, but no one should have to learn that lesson in the way that you did.

I don't know if I ever mentioned this or not, but I am kind of a nomadic person. I never own any more stuff than I could pack into a trunk of a car and just go if I needed to. I have my clothes, I have my TV and Laptop and I have my 12 current games and their respective consoles. Having too many "things" around me makes me feel claustrophobic, cluttered and closed in. I see material things as distractions from the more important things in life: friends, family, relationships...

I find it ironic that I have an attachment to games. They are among THE most addictive/distracting things out there and are truly my one and only vice/weakness. Everything else I own (besides the clothes) would go if I no longer played games. It's because of this ONE attachment I study and read about the reasons WHY so many people get hooked and seemingly have no choice... It's not like I would collect a lot of them (excluding a once-HUGE VC collection, but digital media doesn't affect me in the same way), but games are the one and only thing I just cannot seem to let go!

Friends, family, emotions, feelings and memories; they are the only things in your life that really matter. They give something BACK to you and stay with you til your dying day. People seem to forget that while staring at a computer/TV screen and THAT is a gamers first and worst cardinal sin.


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Tue, 09 Dec 2008 02:34:07

phantom_leo said:

I don't know if I ever mentioned this or not, but I am kind of a nomadic person. I never own any more stuff than I could pack into a trunk of a car and just go if I needed to. I have my clothes, I have my TV and Laptop and I have my 12 current games and their respective consoles. Having too many "things" around me makes me feel claustrophobic, cluttered and closed in. I see material things as distractions from the more important things in life: friends, family, relationships...

 I'm the opposite there.  I purposely close myself in with things to be more comfortable.

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