Paradoxical

Waitlisted

Monday, December 16, 2013 | 07:28 AM | by

I find myself adding a lot of games to my Steam wishlist lately. Games that even as little as a year ago I wouldn't have hesitated to purchase outright.

I think my wishlist has sort of turned into an "on deck" list or "holding pattern", in light of so many interesting indie games constantly springing up on the service and such a finite amount of free time. Especially this past couple of weeks, I find my gaming time is a fragile and valuable commodity, and it needs to be respected and maximized.

There are a number of elements at play that preside over my increased judciousness in regards to these low-cost indie games. Games that are a lot like potato chips; one is small and harmless enough... but you can never eat just one. You tear into them, and before you know it, you've devoured the whole bag.

I think the biggest factor is "early access." Everything is early access nowadays, which amounts to "pay us to beta test our game for us." And that's okay, I don't mind that business model. I purchase a lot of games in development, and then just peek in on them in a rotation as they mature. However, sometimes I just don't feel like beta testing a game. I don't feel like dealing with bugs and missing content. Sometimes I don't want to play through a game knowing I'm only getting half the experience, and the liklihood of me playing through again after it's "finished" is slim to none.

So sometimes now these games go on the wishlist. This way they're catalogued, so that I can remember that I was interested in them... just not until they're finished. The wishlist is my wine cellar. I'm excited about certain vintages, but they just need to age a bit.

And then there's the Schrödinger's Video Game Paradox. The concept that, until you've played it, a game is simultaneously awesome and terrible. With so many little indie games popping up all the time, that don't get the instant, widespread reviews that big-budget titles get, it can sometimes be taking a shot in the dark with a new title.

And most often, due to their low financial entry barrier, I feel like it's easier to care less about a review. "Eh, if the game sucks, I'm only out $10."

But still, these games often look really cool, be they retro, or have some nifty gimmick/artstyle/etc. You want every one of them to be that diamond in the rough, your Minecrafts and Terrarias. And so oddly enough, sometimes I find myself putting a game on the wishlist just to hold onto that "this game is gonna be so great" feeling for an extra couple of days. Knowing that it's there, on the horizon, to look forward to next time I sit down to play something.

I just hope my free time will someday catch up with my ever-expanding wishlist.