The world seems to become a more stressful and difficult place every day, and we all find our own way of coping. For many of us, movies, TV shows, books, comics, toy collecting and video games are a vital form of release.
Escapism into games and other media works two ways. We can basically sum these up as novelty and familiarity. Yes, there’s an undeniable rush of pleasure in buying or playing something new, be it the latest release or an older obscurity you’ve never come across before.
However, every time we buy a new game, part of the excitement is the possibility that it could become a lifelong favorite, one of the games we really love and keep coming back to, time and again. Just as finding casinos that accept bitcoin lets us play classic table games and slots in a new way, so there are those special video games that never grow old and reveal a new element every time we approach them.
Of course, not everyone replays and revisits the same old games. To those who are committed to moving forward and get their kicks from the next new thing, the idea of going back to a game you’ve already played through can seem boring, regressive and even infantile. However, for those who do return to their favorite games time and again, there is a multitude of reasons why this makes sense, and why these games continue to give pleasure on each new go-round.
The same but different
Today’s high-end video games are so packed with detail, world-building and different story options that it’s possible to play through them several times and never quite play the same game twice. Unlike with books and films, with games, you make the story. This is especially true if you move away from simple shooters to role-playing games and world exploration games such as the Grand Theft Auto franchise, where you have a whole alternative reality to lose yourself in.
Sometimes, there are different ways to play, with the aggressive, direct route to winning only one option among many. Different decisions may branch out into a whole other narrative, while in-game relationships can be approached in alternative ways. Of course, there are also scenes and small details you may only fully appreciate a second or third time around. In fact, many of today’s top games are expressly designed to keep you coming back for more.
Replaying your favorite video games is a bit like reconnecting with old friends. Sometimes, the characters in the game can feel like friends you haven’t seen for a while, living in a foreign country that you’re equally glad to see again. Yes, there are constant challenges and obstacles to overcome, but because you’ve faced and overcome them before, they don’t seem as daunting or stressful. Mastering them again can also restore your confidence and make you feel more ready for real-life challenges.
Nostalgia has a bad reputation, but recent studies suggest that, in moderate doses, it can have a positive effect on our mental health. Part of this is just the escapism discussed above: old video games can be our happy place, a comfort blanket that helps us feel secure in an insecure world. You know that you’ll enjoy them, because you know what’s coming next.
Playing our favorite games can also help us to reconnect with our true selves. We are reminded of the person we used to be and, perhaps more importantly, the person we could be in the future. Familiar games let us reboot optimism, rediscover meaning, and feel empowered by comforting memories of simpler, happier times.
Practice makes perfect
There are also reasons why you might want to keep playing a new game – reasons that have nothing to do with nostalgia. For one thing, you want to get your money’s worth. Why pay premium prices for something you’re only going to play once? Secondly, you might want to do better, get a higher score, or unlock bonuses you missed the first time around. Playing the same game on different platforms can also reveal new aspects of a game you’ve become happily obsessed with.
Repetition is soothing and calming. There’s no reason not to go back to old favorites if that’s what works for you. Modern video games have so many layers that they’re eminently suited to repeat plays, while older games can seem even more fun if the element of nostalgia is involved. Fire up your console and get ready for another play-through.
Robert Griffith is a content and essay writer. He is collaborating with local magazines and newspapers. Robert is interested in topics such as marketing and history.