Everybody has a favourite game and gamers can sometimes be a very proud bunch when it comes to them games. They can argue, scream and debate about their favourites and hell hath no fury like a gamer with an unwavering opinion on their favourite game. But what precisely makes people choose a game as their “favourite”? While it can certainly help that a game can be ridiculously fun, jaw-droppingly gorgeous and have an addictive quality that keeps you coming back for more, I believe that there’s an almost personal and psychological reason as to why we pick games as our favourites. Read on to hear me think out loud about what makes a game a “favourite game”.
It is fair to say that most games can be broken down as “experiences” which can often be familiar to our “real life events”. Games can have adventures incredibly similar to our own experiences with death, life, joy and depression and I believe that sometimes the experience in a game can synch up to our own real life experience. Let me explain all that with a simple example. Let’s just say you were starting school or college for the first time and you were also playing BioShock. The feeling of being in a completely new environment without any idea of how the world behaves is a motif that is parallel in both experiences. This is where the idea of a game becoming a “favourite” comes in. Games can help us get through certain “real life” incidents and can act as a way of dealing with grief or sadness or compliment joy or excitement. We play these games and label them as our favourites because we played them during pivotal moments of great emotion in our life.
A fellow writer at OnlySP played Mass Effect before the birth of his son and called the experience one of his favourites. He said that “It changed the way I looked at games and with a child about to be born, it made me hopeful that there would be great games in the future for my son and I to enjoy together.” Would he be saying the same if he was playing Saints Row IV before his child’s birth? I believe that he would! Both games are excellent on their own but to have the experience of playing them coupled with one of our own personal life experiences is what makes a game something significant and one of our favourites! I reckon our writer would look at Mass Effect with great favour because of the fond memories of having a child which he would associate with the game.
Another reason for gamers to have a “favourite” is because of nostalgia. Back in the day of the 90’s and 00’s, most gamers wouldn’t have the opportunity to fork out cash for a $60 game every 2 weeks and would usually only get 2 or 3 games every birthday or Christmas. It’s just the way things were done. Getting a game was a bit of treat so we all made sure to play that game as much as possible and get the most enjoyable experience for the longest possible time before we get the next game. Hence, many young gamers often did some thorough research on the game and made sure that it would be something they’d enjoy. Gamer nostalgia is both a good/bad thing. It’s always great to be a fan of something and have a loving devotion to a series but it can also cause you to turn a blind eye to parts of a game where it can suffer or it can cause publishers to forsake you because they believe that you’ll buy anything with a “nostalgic” brand attached to it.
But why does having gamer nostalgia influence a gamer’s favourites? It is because simply looking at the game conjures up the care-free and easy going memories of being a young child. We associate the game with our youth and regard it as being a piece of our childhood. Maybe that’s why brands such as Pokémon still sell big numbers to this day because it still holds elements of our gamer youth?
So what do you think? Does association and looking back have a lot to do with what makes a game our favourite? I believe it does play a big part but it is the quality of the game itself that helps land a place in the “favourite” category for gamers. Let me know what you think in the comments below!