Too Many Games and Decision Paralysis

By Patrick Toworfe – 13th April 2016
Too Many Games and Decision Paralysis

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re unsure what game to play, and you spend tens of minutes just choosing, ending up playing nothing a lot of the time? It’s a situation that’s more common than you think, although the evidence for its occurrence is very anecdotal. As gamers today, we’re the most spoiled for choice than we’ve ever been, but this is a double edged sword. In our plethora of choices, we find ourselves unable to choose.

In the first place, the availability of games has skyrocketed so much in the past few years. More than ever before, we can get our hands on several good games which are free, in Beta or early access, or through promotional and review codes. Not to mention that digital distribution of games is becoming smoother, and the prices are becoming cheaper. With this colossal amount of games at our fingertips, it’s no wonder it’s hard to pick what will be worth our time.

This is essentially the core of the issue. Gamers put a lot of investment, usually time and money, into games, and we need to be sure it’s worth our time. Gaming isn’t as stigmatized as it once was, and we’re able to sit down and game for even longer for the purpose of streaming, reviewing or previewing, as well as just having fun. With that in mind, the game that absorbs our interest needs to be worth it, and it is the uncertainty of this which leads to our decision paralysis. This simply means that we are paralyzed, stuck in place and unable to make a choice when we want to pick a game to play.

Division agent screen

Lately, I’m playing The Division a lot, more than other games I might enjoy just as much. But that’s not a bad thing.

Decision paralysis can be particularly relevant when it comes to purchasing decisions. Despite the wealth of free and cheap games, a lot of games still cost $60/£40 or your regional equivalent, and making the choice to buy a game at this price tends to be a tough one. It varies for each gamer, but we often look for certain criteria to determine what will make our choice the ‘right one’, and this could explain why game reviews are still regarded as much as they are. Luckily, we have live-streams, game preview videos, and Let’s Plays to inform our decision, at times more accurately than reviews ever did. But even with all these resources, there’s still no complete way of knowing if we’ll like the game until we are actually playing it.

It would seem obvious that the solution is to go with our gut feeling and just pick which game we are likely to enjoy most. This works the majority of the time, but the notion of satisfaction comes into play. How do we know if we’ll feel satisfied playing this game over another? You could play that free game with your friends, or you could grind that next loot in the RPG you just bought. You might enjoy the new online beta that is being streamed on Twitch, or you might revisit that single-player game you’d put off for some hours. Deeper the choice rabbit hole goes.

We’re certainly blessed as gamers in this time, and that cannot be understated. The fact that we even have the luxury to feel decision paralysis at all is a testament to the surplus of amazing games available. It’s up to us as individuals to make a concrete choice as to what we’ll find most engaging, and then hopefully the reward for doing so will follow.

Patrick Toworfe

Dedicated gamer, member of the Fighting Game Community and sometimes a hobby photographer. Follow me @JusticeSoulTuna

  • Agreed lots of choices are around, meaning that people no longer have to wait to play the popular games, and can instead indulge themselves into niche genres or experiment with new ones.

  • Mr0303

    I personally have a list of a couple of must play titles, that I know I’ll like and they are usually parts of a franchise. The rest of my gaming decisions are based on interest. The genre is the biggest factor to give me an idea whether or not I’ll enjoy a certain title. Some others include story, characters and more recently – unique and unexplored ideas.

    PS+ also gives me the option to play stuff I wouldn’t normally buy.