In the 1990s, it wasn’t uncommon for my parents to take my brother and me to the local video store. Every Friday evening we stopped in to check out the latest VHS movie and video games for rent. Our parents let us pick out just one video game rental due to the high prices and even higher late charge fee if it wasn’t returned on time.
After some brotherly quarreling, we’d eventually settle on a game that would let us play simultaneously, otherwise known as a multi-player game. In the days before online gaming, this was the compromise that siblings were forced to make, as there was no other option if we wanted to play against each other.
Whatever choice was made, we were stuck with it. No matter if we enjoyed the game or not, we savored our short time with the coveted Nintendo or Sega cartridge (yes, before disc games).
Steam Cures the Blues
As video rental stores slip away into antiquity as the 21st century rolls on, I now have my first real feeling of the “getting older blues.” On the flip side, now is also a time to rejoice. Digital distribution giant, Steam, is offering video game rentals through their download service. The current Steam system allows gamers to purchase digital copies of popular game titles at low prices. The problem is that gamers end up paying for and digitally hoarding endless amounts of video games, playing on a small percentage of them.
The two-day rental program offered through Steam will give gamers the opportunity to acquaint themselves with just two of their favorite game titles by eliminating other options that will make picking a game a difficult task. This sounds like a good concept…for people who have no decision making skills. Gamers went from limited choices in the 1990s to infinite choices today, and yet, still can’t make a choice on which games to play. Maybe the maxim “less is more” holds some truth today.