Another example, for different reasons, is Epic's Gears of War. I'm not playing to immerse myself in the universe (though that helps), but the reason I play this game over and over again is simply the fact that the game is fun. Is the story simplistic? Yeah. Are the characters shallow and dumb? Mostly yeah. But I ask you this: So what? I like to interact with this experience simply because it's a fun experience to interact with. The gameplay is smooth and easy to learn, the story is easy to follow and full of exciting moments, and the weapons are visceral and satisfying (That chainsaw bayonet never gets old, I'm sorry but it doesn't).
Another reason I love playing this game is because of its emphasis on co-op gameplay. They say everything is better with a friend, especially games. And the Gears of War experience is simply that much better with a friend playing with you on your couch. You organize plans of attack on the fly, you help each other out, you both laugh maniacally as one of you saws a "grub" in half. Even if your friend isn't that good at videogames, Gears of War is easy enough to figure out. And you can keep him covered as he/she learns the ropes. I'm not in a rush to finish the game because I'm enjoying the game with my friend. Sure I won't chainsaw as many locusts this time around, but it's not about that, it's about going through this journey with a friend. I'll play it on Casual, Normal, Hardcore, and even Insane because I know I'll have a blast playing through the same ol' story no matter how I play it. And experiencing the story with a friend just makes it that much better.
On a personal note. My brother and I don't spend a lot of time together, we just have different schedules and different priorities. In late 2006 he bought an Xbox 360 with Gears of War. He had a tiny, 17" standard def TV. nowadays it's hard to imagine playing a 360 game without a big 42" plus HDTV, but back then that was what we had, and we had a blast playing the game. We would eventually beat it on Hardcore, we had everything down pat, he used the Lancer and the Longshot sniper rifle, and I had the Lancer and the Torque Bow (whenever I could find it), we started the game on Insane and had our strategy down perfectly. Toward the end we really started getting our asses kicked. We just said "dammit . . . okay let's do it this way" and we tried it again. We restarted many a checkpoint, laughing and having fun the whole time. Because for us, it wasn't about winning. It was about coordination, teamwork, and just plain fun.
We all have our favorite movies, songs, and books. We watch them, listen to them and read them many times. We hold these favorites dear to our hearts regardless of the fact that we know them front and back. Because it's really not about the content in and of itself, but rather the joy we get when we experience them. This also holds true to videogames, maybe more so because we interact with them firsthand. And to anyone who says that a game "is good but not $60 good", here's a challenge for you: Play through it again and I promise you, you'll get your money's worth.
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