A funny thing happens when I walk by an arcade. My neck cranes, scanning the room and if I gaze on a series of the flashing arrows scrolling up a screen my eyes lock onto the machine and my body tries to move towards the machine on instinct. The feeling intensifies if the machine happens to be part of the few generations that had the best track list, but regardless of the version there is always an urge and a rush of the good brain chemicals that get me feeling excited and anxious to hop on the machine and give it another round for old times sake. The machine, if you hadn’t guessed was a DDR machine. If you talked to 13-year-old me and told him that I’d be working at a place where there were several DDR machines in the area with easy access to, he’d be ecstatic because what 13-year-old me thought was that I’d be a fan of the series for life. Maybe that was immature thinking, but the more places that I pass where there’s a DDR machine there or the disappointment that I find when there isn’t when I’d thought there would be, the more I believe I had it right back then, though my reasoning was wrong for it.
You can call it nostalgia or not being able to let go of past experiences, but there are many groups among the community that live with their game of choice and have become “Forever Fans” of their game.
The easiest example to pull from is the StarCraft community, playing competitively and with high level plays with evolving meta-games continually since the game was first released in 1998 until StarCraft 2 was released in 2010. Even after its release, many people still preferred or will occasionally return to StarCraft to relive the fun that they was had with the series but will still get hyped about, play with, and progress in every new iteration and expansion of StarCraft 2. Having a community that evolves, expands and stays competitive for 12 years is a loyal fan base.
You can find this parallel of Forever Fans in any competitive gaming community. From World of Warcraft to EVE online, from Super Smash Bros to Street Fighter, from Counter Strike to Halo, from DDR to Initial D. The communities built around these games make it hard to not feel the pull to return to the game or to at least look at it in an unbiased light because there are many intense feelings associated to the game making the pull to return ever more strong than other games.
Super Smash Bros and Street Fighter are interesting instances because each iteration of the game has something that pockets of people will find frustrating and there will always be people who abstain from progressing to the new iteration. Smash Bros still has a stronger competitive scene with SSB:Melee than it does with Brawl and hopefully Nintendo recognizes this popularity for the Wii U iteration of the game. Street Fighter stagnated for the longest time with Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, but with online competitive play on the rise with XBox Live and PSN after a 10 years wait Street Fighter 4 came out was released and helped give E-Sports outside of the FPS some credibility.
While a competitive community helps breed those intense feelings that we attach to with a game being the conduit for that growth, I believe that the community just helps amplify the intensity of feelings by allowing the possibility of social and competitive feelings entering into the equation. But there are always series that captivate us and draw our attention with a magnetic resonance. The Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Halo and Pokémon are those series with a massively loyal fan-base where if we see news about these series come up, we just can’t help ourselves but listen in. The Uncharted Series is one like this more recently because the series has been one that engaged the player in excitement and intrigue to a much more satisfying degree than other “summer blockbuster”-type games. The ride that you get strapped into is unparalleled and story sticks with you making it easy to re-live the set-pieces and the exhilaration that you experienced the first time through the game.
Every one of us has a drug of choice, one that is constantly tempting us when the thought of it races through our mind.
What games are any of you a constantly drawn back to?
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