All over again?
Diablo III was released in May of 2012. I played it a bit after launch, but lost interest. Reaper of Souls, the expansion, was released nearly two years later. It vastly improved the game, and I played a bunch more, including the Crusader class. But I fell out with it – it just didn’t hold my interest. Then I didn’t play it again for 3 years. I’m playing in again, now. Why?
When a new song comes out that I like, I seem to play it on loop. I have watched the M*A*S*H TV show, fully, several times. Same with 30 Rock. I’ve seen Star Wars, The Princess Bride, Hot Fuzz and plenty of other movies dozens of times. I’ve read The Lord of the Rings series, Dune, Vonnegut’s books and many others over and over again. According to Neel Burton, in his book “Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions” (which I have not read but sounds interesting) this is because it triggers nostalgic comfort.
And it makes sense, really. I can listen to Dave Matthews Band’s Before These Crowded Streets and I am transported to the Staten Island Ferry, traveling from work in Manhattan in 1998. For some reason, this is a comforting experience, even though I was miserable at the time – having gone through a breakup, working long hours, and not yet having the cash to get my own apartment.
Merriam-Webster defines nostalgia secondarily as:
a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition
Which seems about right. But, interestingly, the first definition is “the state of being homesick”, which is strange, because much of my personal nostalgia doesn’t involve “home”, per se, but a draw to the past. Perhaps that past, which is familiar but, if you think about it, remembered more fondly than in the moment, is “home” in a way. Derek Thompson of The Atlantic writes that “…we like something more merely because we’ve been previously exposed to it”. Lucy Collins notes some brief but important points about idealizing the past for The Observer. I’ll come back to this in a different post, I think.
And yes, I’ve come back to games I’ve played before over and over again. But something different seems to happen here. I recently replayed most of Skyrim and Fallout 4. Both of these games (incidentally, both made by Bethesda) were critically acclaimed. I played them all the way through, but was never really “hooked” by them. I enjoyed my time, but they were quite a slog. But, recently, I went back and started replaying both of these games, for some reason. And I put in quite some time with both. And I still didn’t really “enjoy” my time with them. But I didn’t stop.
And so now, D3. It never hooked me, and I didn’t see the value in continuing to play, continuing to level, continuing to get “new loot”, but here I am again, putting time into it. But why? Why does this happen. It’s not nostalgia – I have no euphoric memory triggering happening when I replay these games. Granted, they aren’t terribly old, but then again the video game industry as it exists now isn’t either.
So I’m playing Diablo III. Again. I’m enjoying the Necromancer, but I really don’t see the point. I’m not sure I’m accomplishing anything, or even enjoying it. It’s strange. Oh, well, maybe I’ll just go watch Rogue One. Again.