Play It Again, Sam

Ignore the widely misquoted line from Casablanca which adorns this article; I’ve intentionally misquoted the film to fit my needs. That being said, if your name is Sam, I am talking to you, only you, and you should most certainly stop touching yourself. It’s wrong. What everyone else should be doing is also ‘playing it again’, but please, I beg of you: do it for the right reasons. The ‘it’ in this particular piece is games. The hundreds and hundreds of games that you probably own, have completed, and which now clutter up your hard drive, or, if you are older than eighteen, your shelves, wardrobes, and desk drawers. You’ve played them – either completing them or giving up – and they have been resigned to the ‘done with’ section of your mind. If they ever crop up in conversation, you can say that you conquered that particular challenge, regale your friends with tales of your accomplishments, and then crack on with what you were doing, which, if you’re Sam, is (hopefully) not touching yourself.

Of course, that isn’t always the case because you may end up in a position similar to me, where you find yourself playing the same games over and over again. I’m sure plenty of people do this, but why? Why do we play the same games, repeatedly? This isn’t a form of insanity, because there are a number of good reasons, given the evolving nature of the industry. Achievement hunting is probably one of the most common – but certainly newer – reasons for replaying games; whether it be for an increased gamerscore or just to say you’ve finished the game on the hardest difficulty mode, using only the weakest weapon, achievement hunting is nothing new. Given the extra layer of addiction this provides, I doubt achievements are going to disappear any time soon.

Perhaps you’re replaying a game because you threw in the towel halfway through or got side-tracked with something else. That’s a pretty regular occurrence among gamers of all ages; you’ll be cracking on with the latest release and then, a week later, the next must-play release will be upon us, and you’ll naturally have to get it – god forbid you finish what you were doing first. Finally, you could just be giving it another crack because you enjoyed it. I mean, why not? You’ve played a game, you enjoyed it, and you’re giving it another go. Sure, you’ve experienced it all before, you know what to expect and you know when the twist is coming, but what does it matter; you loved it and you’re going to love it again.

For the most part, I fall into the final category: I don’t bother with achievements and I tend to have something on my computer until I finish it, regardless of how many games I might actually be playing at once, and it doesn’t get uninstalled until I’ve finished it. So, predominantly, I replay games because I love them and enjoy the experiences they provide. But why? I know that you may think I have answered my own question – for the love of it – and last year I wrote an article about the value of only playing a game once, living with that experience and enjoying it for what it is. Equally, however, I appreciate the value of playing a game over and over to get the most out of it. Replaying games is one of the best things that gamers can do, because many titles have so much to offer that one playthrough can’t possibly cover it all.

Still, I have to question the logic in replaying the same games over and over. I know that if I enjoy it, then there’s no problem, but the whole time I’m replaying the same game, reliving similar experiences to those I’ve already gathered, I’m missing out on new ones; new games, new adventures that the industry is churning out, day after day. The longer I focus on squeezing the last drops of joy out of the same games that I’ve been playing for the last fifteen years, the plethora of newer titles I’m missing out on grows and grows.

Should I be ignoring new games to keep replaying what I know and love? Should I be ignoring what I want to play and, literally, forcing myself to keep interested in something newer in order to see if it’s another game I’ll end up falling in love with? It’s a difficult thing to balance because, if nothing else, the list of games to play keeps on growing and the games I love aren’t going anywhere. I feel compelled to almost ignore the games I want to play, in order to focus on the ones everyone is recommending; to play the games that I keep buying in those ridiculous Steam sales. It feels like a blessing to have so much choice but, equally, it feels like a curse.

So, what I’ll say is this: this isn’t a rant about having too many games to play – most gamers flog that dead horse all too often. What I will say is, don’t feel pressured to play games you don’t want to play. If you want to spend every last penny on every last offer, that’s fine, and if you come out of the latest Steam sale with thirty new games and still want to just go back and play another skirmish on Red Alert 2, then fuck it, go for it. As much as the greatest experience maybe the next game on the ‘To Play’ list, it’s much, much more important to enjoy the game you’re playing and tackle the new stuff when you want. Just make sure you’re replaying the games for the right reason; don’t let the success of your own hobby crush itself and ruin the enjoyment. Now off you go, play it again Sam.

Last five articles by Chris



  1. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    This. This is why I’m doing that whole ‘gap year’ thing with the Borderlands and Fallout series… because, as much as I love them (and I really REALLY do), they’re preventing me from playing all those other games that I keep being told I ‘should’ play, such as Mass Effect, BioShock, and all those indie games I keep seeing around the place. The thing is, I could genuinely spend this year playing LOADS of different games and yet never even enjoy one of them as much as I do those that I have an addiction with.

    Does that mean that I’m wasting my time and should just focus on what I know will be GOOD, or am I right to take the chance and maybe lose out? I really don’t know.

  2. Chris Toffer says:

    Yes, this is problem I keep having. I’ve decided that it’s better to play for enjoyment, as opposed to chasing an achievement or because I’m addicted. if I’m genuinely enjoying it then super, but I think if I’m ever to experience some of those ground breaking games, then I’ll have to let the ones I constantly replay slide.

    Imagine if you’d just carried on with Borderlands and Fallout series. You may never have picked up the Vita. Given your love for Tearaway and LBP, that would be a shame.

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