For the last two weeks, my best friend, Matthew, and I just couldn’t seem to shut up about video game developer Bungie’s brand new game, “Destiny.” We’d spent so much time toiling through critic reviews and gameplay videos trying to decide if it was worth the buy or not.
Ultimately, I decided against buying it, and discovered something interesting in the process.
In 1995, only 14 percent of the U.S. population had the Internet. Back in my day, if you wanted to experience “Spyro: The Dragon” in any form, you had to buy it. Either that, or beg your parents to take you to Pizza Hut and get a stuffed crust pizza and get the demo CD that came with it.
However, in present day, if you want to experience a video game, you can just go straight to YouTube and watch people play it. According to a study done by the University of California San Diego in 2009, on average, we consume around 34 gigabytes of content every single day. We’re getting more and more information. In fact, another study from the same university found that, by 2015, we will consume 15.5 hours of media each day.
So why would anyone need to buy a $60 video game, to play it? Ludicrous. So now, instead of actually participating in playing these video games, we’re just watching other people play them, because that’s less work than, oh, you know, having fun.
By the end of our two-week “Destiny” binge, I asked myself, “Why would I need to play this?” I had absorbed so much content, that at this point, I just didn’t buy the game.
This is not just something that happens in the realm of video games. When we get excited about something new, we tend to Google it. When we’re trying to make a decision between two items, we Google it. But at some point, it turns from excitement to exhaustion. It’s hard to not absorb information about something that you’re excited about, because it’s everywhere.
Now, I’m not necessarily saying that having access to a ton of information is a bad thing, but it completely changes the way we interact with the world around us; it’s harder to have unmediated experiences. On one hand, if I bought “Destiny” without looking at any reviews, I would’ve probably been disappointed, but on the other hand, if I had bought it, I would’ve found that out for myself.
It’s not about consuming less information. It’s about re-evaluating, and asking ourselves questions.
What is the value of forming our own opinions? Do we place a price tag on experiences? Is it about saving money? Or is it about truly experiencing the world, even the disappointing parts of it, and fostering meaningful experiences?