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The upside of limited options


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When I first got my NES I only had 5 cartridges: Mario/duck hunt, Tetris, RC Pro-Am, Burger Time, and Legacy of the Wizard. Legacy of the Wizard was the only one I was unfamiliar with. The lack of options forced me to really spend a good chunk of time with it and it became one of my favorite games. I think having too many options can sometimes diminish our appreciation of what we have.

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No doubt about it.  I was the exact same way, I played the handful of games that I had to death as a kid.  It was that or nothing!  When my kids pick up a game now they give up after 5 minutes if it's "too hard".  They won't giving anything a fair chance. 

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Member · Posted

This too true.  I grew up barely on the other side of "poor", and though my wife's family was an upper-middle class household, they were pretty minimalist and were conservative savers, so my wife didn't grow up with a bunch of stuff either.

As a kid, like everyone else, I LOVED video games, so I kept them at the top of every birthday and Christmas list.  I was fortunate to had about 8 NES games, 6 Game Boy games and when I was a bit older, I saved up to buy my own Game Gear and nearly all allowance and Christmas gift cash went to buying games for it.  That felt "excessive".

Now, my kids have a ridiculous amount of stuff.  I have a son who, much like me when I was his age (8), loves to take things apart and figure out how they work.  However, I quickly learned if I didn't figure out how to put my toys back together, I wouldn't have toys at all.  My son has so much stuff from Christmas, Birthday's and random gifts from those "minimalist" grand parents, that he's never afraid to break any of his toys.  He has a closet filled with them, so one down every week or so is no great loss.

I bring this up because I'm not trying to be like "kids these days..." but I have observed and experienced first-hand, you lose a lot of appreciate for stuff when you have it in abundance.  Everything now is at least semi-disposable.  I'm not railing against anyone or anything, per se, but we live in a time of greater abundance than the 80s and 90s I knew as a kid.  Even with all of our current issues.  It makes it a lot tougher as a parent to grow appreciation because now there's not only an innate expectation for what you need to exist and be available for living but for many people now there's an innate expectation that much of what you want is accessible too.

Edited by RH
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Editorials Team · Posted
34 minutes ago, G-type said:

When I first got my NES I only had 5 cartridges: Mario/duck hunt, Tetris, RC Pro-Am, Burger Time, and Legacy of the Wizard. Legacy of the Wizard was the only one I was unfamiliar with. The lack of options forced me to really spend a good chunk of time with it and it became one of my favorite games. I think having too many options can sometimes diminish our appreciation of what we have.

No doubt.  People love to complain nowadays. 

I'm always like: "Do you not remember playing the same 4 carts over and over again because they cost half your parents' mortgage?"

We're spoiled now.

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Not to mention, having thousands of games to choose from sometimes makes it impossible to pick something to play.  when I was a kid with my 4 NES carts and 2 SNES carts, I had no problem picking a game to play and enjoying it.  Nowadays, I occasionally have so much trouble deciding what to pay, I sometimes end up playing nothing.  It makes no sense.  

I sort of have the same issue picking something to watch from the nearly endless supply of movies or TV shows to stream.  I never had that problem when I was younger and I had to pick from the 4 or 5 dozen VHS tapes on our shelf.

Edited by TDIRunner
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Member · Posted
7 minutes ago, TDIRunner said:

Not to mention, having thousands of games to choose from sometimes makes it impossible to pick something to play.  when I was a kid with my 4 NES carts and 2 SNES carts, I had no problem picking a game to play and enjoying it.  Nowadays, I occasionally have so much trouble deciding what to pay, I sometimes end up playing nothing.  It makes no sense.  

I sort of have the same issue picking something to watch from the nearly endless supply of movies or TV shows to stream.  I never had that problem when I was younger and I had to pick from the 4 or 5 dozen VHS tapes to pick from.

The closest we got to that feeling was when we had "100 channels of cable... and nothings on."  I remember thinking that and it was a trope of the time of how universally we could feel that way.  BUT, that's also how I found a lot of amazing b-grade movies on TBS in the middle of the day, middle of the week on summer break when it was too hot to play outside (in Columbia, SC).

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I agree with everything thats been noted so far. One thing that an abundance of choice also causes though, and it’s something thats just as special we’ve lost, is the greater shared experience. When there are fewer choices a huge amount of people will experience the same thing. The tv example fits here. When there was at most only a dozen channels back in the day and a third of those were news channels, you had huge chunks of people watching the same thing. Like with the MASH finale which has some ungodly amount of people tuned in. That would never happen again today with a show on tv where THAT MANY people all watched the exact same thing at the exact same time. Which resulted in conversations about it, references to it, parody, etc. With the sheet glut of stuff available now, I have no friggen clue what some of my friends are referencing half the time, and vice versa because we all find our own little thing

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23 minutes ago, LeatherRebel5150 said:

Like with the MASH finale which has some ungodly amount of people tuned in. That would never happen again today

These days, everyone has their favorite show, and everyone wants everyone else to watch their show, but no one has time to watch everything, so you always have to end up saying that you can't watch it.

There was once a funny commercial about this very thing.  Some guy goes around and every person he talks to tells him to watch a different show, and at the end of the day he gets home and of all the ideas given to him, he ends up watching Cupcake Wars.  The point being, just watch what you enjoy.

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Graphics Team · Posted

The worst part about choice-paralysis is that, once you finally commit to watching or playing something, there's a nagging feeling that one of the other options would've been better, and you can't even properly enjoy your choice.

Maybe that's why I gravitate to playing Atari and watching Youtube. Bite-sized media lets you experience more stuff with less commitment (and therefore less fear of dissatisfaction).

-CasualCart

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Member · Posted
2 hours ago, Reed Rothchild said:

Or...

 

You all join the backlog challenge next year and focus your ADHD-asses 😅 😘

I can't even finish Metroid Dread, what makes you think I can finish a well curated backlog?!

Edited by RH
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@G-type You hit it on the head there at a couple levels of depth.  For one, you had limited options in general, but you had variety in that limitation.  You had platforming+light gun, arcade, puzzle, racing, and that adventure/rpg style game.  On the whole you had some good choices there, Legacy of Wizard isn't on most peoples lists as even good let alone great, but some do adore it a lot, like you.  I think it's one of those games where a bit more sign posts on what to do or not would have helped it a lot, but being limited, you had to work with what you had and figured it out over time.  Time is the issue, as a kid, homework aside, and nagging parents perhaps too, you've got hours to blow going in circles and not feeling bad about it.  Those 5(6) games you probably had for months, years, before another got added to it so you could work that angle.

We on the whole outside of self limitation can't do that anymore, we're not kids on a budget, nor are we kids with hours of daily unimpeded time to waste either so we get kind of screwed.  It's a convergence of two terrible things... short time, and overkill variety, painfully so if you bother with ROMs or just happen to have a lot of systems(and unfinished business, or business you want to revisit.)  While a kid could end up with 2-3 games a year or so, we can get 2-3 games in minutes and it's a curse.

 

I've been preaching to a friend who got himself in some trouble at home this year over and over again, a few failed attempts, but with that, finally listening to behave kind of like a kid on a budget.  He's getting rid of a lot, but keeping a few key systems, and with that, as a kid on a budget he can only spend a low amount a month, or store it up for a few months for a key item like a child with an allowance buying something cheapo/used vs saving months for that full price new game.  It's working, he seems happier and can commit more time to it.

Because of that, and with the changes, and me being utterly fed up dealing with selling and the scum, I'm done with ebay here in a few weeks.  I'll do a few private sales online, mainly just trades, and then local only if I get fed up with something.  I intend to kid on a budget it too somewhat.  I've got enough to finish, time to work on it, and time to only buy what I will have the money for and want to actually make the attempt to finish.  I think it should help kill some apathy and indecision and help play more.

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Graphics Team · Posted
16 hours ago, Reed Rothchild said:

Or...

 

You all join the backlog challenge next year and focus your ADHD-asses 😅 😘

That actually sounds like a great solution - but how flexible is the challenge? Beating most of the games on my backlog is unrealistic, but maybe I can aim to get halfway through each one (or something like that).

-CasualCart
 

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I always found this unusual for me, although I do understand.  Whenever I got games, even now, its always one or maybe at max 3 at a time.  I don't move on until i've spent some time with them.  Example, for the switch, I was playing something (I forgot), beat it and moved on.  Just recently, (even though I beat em before and own em) i'm playing thru the Castlevania GBA Collection.  Im gonna play and beat all 3 (mostly like close to 100% em) before I even think about moving on to something else.  I have a whole list of games on the switch I'm just waiting for sales on so when one pops up after, i'll take that, and repeat.

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Editorials Team · Posted
54 minutes ago, CasualCart said:

That actually sounds like a great solution - but how flexible is the challenge? Beating most of the games on my backlog is unrealistic, but maybe I can aim to get halfway through each one (or something like that).

-CasualCart
 

Everyone sets their own goal and pace.  Some have beat 60+.  Some have beat 2.  Success will be defined differently for everyone.

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12 minutes ago, Reed Rothchild said:

Everyone sets their own goal and pace.  Some have beat 60+.  Some have beat 2.  Success will be defined differently for everyone.

The Backlog Challenge has been a good thing for me. While - in hindsight - I definitely set my sights too high, I've beaten 6 games this year (with another 3 being sooooo close) and a few that I didn't put on the list like Ori, another Xenogears play-through, another Horizon Zero Dawn play -through, Returnal, RE Village, Mystical Ninja on Gameboy, and SoR4. That's already something like 70% more games beaten than in most years.

When faced with a myriad of choices, it's nice to set goals in order to focus. I will undoubtedly fall well short of the goal I had set for 2021, but I look forward to challenging myself again in 2022 (with a more reasonable list this time...life seems to throw enough curve balls that drain away my time that a shorter list is probably best). That said, the year isn't done yet, so I WILL conquer a few more of the games whose ending credits have eluded me for years (looking hard at you MMX6).  

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19 hours ago, CasualCart said:

The worst part about choice-paralysis is that, once you finally commit to watching or playing something, there's a nagging feeling that one of the other options would've been better, and you can't even properly enjoy your choice.

Maybe that's why I gravitate to playing Atari and watching Youtube. Bite-sized media lets you experience more stuff with less commitment (and therefore less fear of dissatisfaction).

-CasualCart

Yeah, this is why I can't do multicarts and emulators. Too easy to flip between games. I emulate stuff but my ROM folder has like a dozen ROMs I specifically want to play rather than 30,000 files of every game ever made.

It's cool that kids today have a billion free options for games/entertainment, but there's a level of enjoyment to be had from mastering whatever crap hand you're dealt. That's lost to taking the path of least resistance when it's so easy to give up on games the second you're bored/frustrated.

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I've been playing a lot of arcade in recent years exactly because even the nature of those bulky PCBs and the preparation in setting up each individual game really helps with my dedication. I'm very bad at finishing anything I'm just casually skipping through on other platforms, especially when it comes to digital download titles.

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On 11/6/2021 at 12:23 PM, DefaultGen said:

 I emulate stuff but my ROM folder has like a dozen ROMs I specifically want to play rather than 30,000 files of every game ever made.

 

I have the ability to put full game sets on the SD cards for my Everdrives, but I choose to only put games I'm interested in playing for that very reason.  

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21 hours ago, TDIRunner said:

I have the ability to put full game sets on the SD cards for my Everdrives, but I choose to only put games I'm interested in playing for that very reason.  

I put full sets on mine so I can randomly pick games that I might not have even thought to try otherwise. I've found some fun games that way.

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