Game Hype

Hype has been on the mind of a few people lately. Beyond the posts themselves, there has been interesting takes shared in the comments. It has also been discussed a little in the Blaugust Discord. It seems to be a topic getting a lot of thought-time, in any case. Possibly in reaction to Gamescom going on.

For myself, I’m not about being extremely cynical about everything, as that isn’t a fun position for anyone involved. But I am by and large very… cautious when it comes to jumping on the hype train. There was a time when I was capable — and indeed happy — to quite ‘actively’ wait for an MMO I was excited on, fueled by little more than the sniff of an oily rag.

Shadowbane — which if you’re familiar with the development history and ultimate fate, you might think would have taught me my lesson — and then again Darkfall being the two prime examples. I was an active forum member of both, and for Darkfall even joined the community staff as an IRC channel op before leaving that position in order to run the WarCry Darkfall site (RIP) .

I can’t do that again. Not ever. Not for anything.

That’s not to say I’m not excited by the prospect of any potential new MMOs — but my waiting will be much more passive in nature. I’ll keep my distance, without much in the way of investment, and just poke my head in for a look every so often.

That’s my approach more generally to games far out from release. Hype is something to be kept at arms length, and I absolutely believe this is a defense mechanism against the waves of disappointment that inevitably arrive when your expectations shoot through the stratosphere.

Roger Edwards made a comment that I can’t help but to agree with too. He said, “So although it is fair to lay a portion of the blame for hype culture at the door of marketing departments and PR companies, we should also look to ourselves.” I can think of at least a few examples, easily, of where my hopes for a title have led me down a garden path completely of my own design.

It’s so easy to latch onto one or two vaguely worded promises or features and allow your mind to just run to the extreme ends of the earth on what it might entail or look like.

The end of the broken hype cycle is, I reckon, a bit like finally reaching the end of the rainbow and finding that there is in fact a pot there. And as you approach, you can even tell that the pot is full of something golden and glittery. Your pace hastens and you reach in, letting handfuls of the golden bounty flow through your hands. It’s real. It’s here.

But the weight is off, bringing a small frown to your face. They are too light. And the texture is wrong. You pick one golden coin up and inspect it closely and your guts sink. It isn’t a golden treasure at all — it’s a pile of confectionery for a kids party. Pirate coins.

Sighing deeply, you unwrap one, hungry from your journey and pop it in your mouth.

And if you are very, very lucky — it is actually chocolate.

Eat crap often enough and eventually you learn that the promised pots of gold are not all they’re cracked up to be and you start to look upon them with a great deal of caution.

Still — sometimes, perhaps inexplicably in restrospect, something cracks through the armour of jaded cynicism and the hype begins to grow. This happened to me with Anthem, but if it hadn’t — I probably wouldn’t be here blogging today.

More than that, occasionally it is just nice to experience a sense of glee and child-like excitement about something. I’m sure a balance exists somewhere, but I surely haven’t quite managed to find it yet.

Case in point:

*SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!*

SO MUCH EXCITE! THIS TIME IT WILL BE GOLD, I AM SURE!
(KSP 1 was amazing, I jumped on after the Early Access was over and had the time of my life and accidentally learnt about orbital mechanics in the process. Ohgodohgodohgod, let me have it naaaoooo!)