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Hype Hurts

Michael Cunningham

We truly do ourselves no favors by getting hyped up about games. We get ideas in our heads about how great a game is going to be, or we follow a game learning every little detail about the game before it's released. Neither of these situations is very healthy. We either know so much about the game that little is a surprise, or even if we avoid information about it, our own expectations often cannot match what the game actually provides.

The idea for this editorial came to me as I reflect back on my past three years here at RPGamer. In that time, it's become my responsibility to know about games. While I don't mind that at all, I cannot help but notice that games tend to lose their edge the more I learn about them prior to release. I look back to 2001 and the release of Final Fantasy X. I'd been a fan of the series since the original NES game and had played anything with the Final Fantasy label on it since then, but I went into an unintentional media blackout before FFX's release. I didn't hunt down every screenshot I could find, read about it in magazines, or anything of the sort. I think I was limited to just a few screens I saw while browsing online, but I didn't even linger over those very long. This wasn't a conscious effort, but it happened.

I had been working in game retail during the releases of Final Fantasy VII through Final Fantasy IX, so it was difficult to avoid them and was spoiled on many things for all three prior to release. For Final Fantasy X, it was easier since I wasn't directly involved during in the gaming scene. It was just like being young again and learning about Final Fantasy IV (II at the time) only by spying on the store shelf.

I went in a couple weeks prior to release and pre-ordered the game, but since avoided media. When I finally took it home and played it, I have to say that I enjoyed the game so much more knowing nothing about it. I was meeting the characters for the first time in the game instead of having read every detail about them right down to their blood type. It was a great experience that I've yet to really repeat for a game as high profile as a Final Fantasy title. I'd love to do it for Final Fantasy XIII, but alas it is too late for that, I know too much already. We do this to ourselves; the publishers just give the fans what they want. We want info, screenshots, trailers, and demos; you name it and we want it. Just think the next time you start wondering if Square Enix is going to release any new information, do you really want to know?

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