An earnest reflection on my console bias and video game consumerism.

I was there at the midnight release of the Nintendo Switch. I was a consumer. I’d like to believe that I don’t have a bias of systems. I want to say “if there’s an exclusive I want to play on a specific system, I’ll do what I can to make it happen.” It’s why I bought an Xbox 360 from a kid in the hood on an ATV off Craigslist to play—what was an exclusive at the time—Deadly Premonition, and why I inevitably settled on a PS4 when Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and Bloodborne were announced for it. And of course, I shouldn’t have to list Nintendo’s exclusives. But I can’t quite say that I was at the midnight for the Switch solely for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and I sure as hell can’t say the same for why I had the Wii U day one. If I were to be honest, this goes beyond bias, but actually touches on my PTSD trying to get my hands on a Wii when I was 15. But more seriously, I think at its core, it’s just about consumerism.

Now, at the time of the Wii’s launch, yes, Twilight Princess made me want to get that system (even though I owned a GameCube and could have easily just experienced it on that). But it was the Wii. It had bowling. It was a no-brainer. And like the old story goes, it was very successful upon its release. That made it extremely difficult to find, and I hadn’t got my hands on one until close to a year of it being out. In a silly nerd-like way, it traumatized me. I hated not having it as soon as I could, and was quite frankly, jealous of my friends who did. I spent weekends scouring all the stores in my neighborhood, calling them, just to see if one was in. It eventually went beyond me just wanting a new system (and a game that I could have already played anyway), but it became a vendetta; a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was pathetic. I fell victim to Nintendo’s infamously effective way of supply-and-demand. The hype was raised due to sparsity, and I didn’t just buy into it, I became a slave to it.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not one of those “Nintendo or nothing” fans. Yes, I worked at Nintendo of America; Yes, I bought the Wii U day one; Yes, I blindly pre-ordered and paid the Switch off without a single feature, or even the user interface being announced. Well, hm, actually, shit… Let’s move on.

I talk a big game on my minimalistic habits, and try to be mindful of what I buy and don’t. I’ve come a long way since I was 15—now being 26. But at the end of the day, for whatever reason, Nintendo games, Nintendo products, they just add a great deal of value to my life. I’d be damned if I didn’t say BotW hasn’t inspired me, gotten me excited, or sparked a sense of instant nostalgia that I haven’t felt playing a game in a long time.

Now to make it clear, I don’t buy that many games. I do when I can. And though this analysis of myself would otherwise suggest I’m a consumer with no self-control, I do actually have a pretty strict discipline as to when I allow myself to consume media (comics in the morning, video games on the weekend, and Sundays are specifically for point-and-click adventure games). I also limit myself from buying something new unless I’m done with what I already got. But there’s something to say when I can’t control the unnecessary impulse to buy into—what appears to be—Nintendo’s very good marketing ploys. And again, like Twilight Princess, I could have played BotW on my Wii U.

I sure as hell didn’t feel that urge to get a PS4 at midnight, and Sony consoles are what I was primarily raised on. I waited almost two years until I settled on picking one up once the price was right and more games were out. That fact alone tells me that I don’t entirely have a bias on my conscience.

And who the fuck am I kidding? I think the Switch is cool. That’s why I wanted it. Whether or not I needed it day one, however, is the truly debatable nature of this week’s rant.

This was intended to be a “what am I playing this week,” but instead this post tripped over itself, down a stairwell leading to a dark basement of self-reflection and acceptance. Especially when I realized that what I was playing was what, in most cases, the same as everyone else.

NOTE: To even the plane, I managed to borrow an Xbox One from someone just so I can play Quantum Break (I actually purchased a copy just to do so). And eventually, somehow, I’ll play D4 with a Kinect.

– kurt

What I’m reading this week:
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Doom Patrol by Gerard Way and Nick Derington
Mother Panic by Jody Houser and Tommy Lee Edwards
Moonshine by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

What I’ve been playing:
Little Inferno
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild