Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 25, 2019

Email: The problem with GAS!

Master Malstrom!

In the music production world GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is a real problem. A few clear symptoms of GAS are when people spend more time reading about the next big thing, they are always concerned with how adding a new piece of gear to their collection will make their music sound better, and they often have problems actually committing themselves to making music. As a result, musicians that suffer from GAS tend to spend a lot of money chasing a belief that ‘the next thing’ will enrich their sound, but they cannot attain this sound if they spend no time actually producing it. Anybody from the outside looking in can see this as a clear problem, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on gear, but not actually taking the time to master the gear that they actually have or even what they newly acquired.

There is very clearly GAS (Game Acquisition Syndrome) in our little space of gaming as well. It is just too easy to create a gaming mountain of shame, looking for the next big game, or putting a game down because something newer and fancier has shown up. Too many people are wowed by ‘low low prices’ from digital sales, and I get it, the cost is lower so the mental time commitment is lower as well, but the reality is that our time is actually limited, we can only play so many games in our lifetime. Maybe I look back too fondly on the days that you had a limited selection of games to play and we took the time to truly master them, make our own challenges, and do things with the games the developers never intended.

I spent about the last four years of my life to complete my MBA. In that time I had very limited free time, and could only focus on playing a handful of games. As a result, I didn’t really read much gaming media, and only really played three different games on the Switch. The Binding of Isaac netted 660 hours, BoW WoW netted 150 hours, and Diablo 3 netted 80 hours as my top played games. I absolutely guarantee that had I had more free time I absolutely would have played each of those games way less, and I would have gotten a lot less value out of them as a result. Limiting my time drastically limited my GAS for new games.

My challenge to your readers is deny the GAS, limit yourself to one game, and truly master it!

So you limited yourself to games like Zelda: BoW “Wow!”, Diablo 3, and Binding of Isaac? How can you NOT play those games and not put in that amount of hours?

Let me give you a counter-perspective. People say “Games used to be sooo much more expensive back in the 80s and early 90s. We had only a few games and we had to like them!” haha.

The problem with that was renting. We all rented games back then. I rented the ENTIRE NES library (it is why Malstrom’s NES collection is now called the Classic NES Game collection because I knew which games had the best value). It wasn’t the games that I played the ‘most’, but rather games I kept returning back to play. For example, Bubble Bobble or Life Force for the NES are not ‘long’ games like Dragon Quest 3 or Final Fantasy, but I love returning to them for various reasons.

I think one problem with games today, especially with RPGs, is how they force so much time to play it. I’m groaning that Ys VIII is 100 hours. Xenoblade games being 100+ hours annoys the hell out of me. I don’t mind games being 100+ hours, I just want them to be consistently fun. I cannot jump in and out of RPGs like I can… with arcade games. I’ve found myself to be happiest with a wide variety of games to play.

Your selection of games isn’t bad, it is just that I don’t see hours played as the value indicator of a good game. Instead, I see it is ‘times I keep returning to the game’ as the value indicator. Sometimes this results in many hours played. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Many games today, especially the RPGs, take hundreds of hours to play, and I never wish to return to the game. I just set it on the shelf and never play it again. Is that a good game with tons of value? I don’t think so. I don’t see why anyone would ever replay the bloated Xenoblade games for example.


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