I Fought the Hype and the Hype Won

By Ryan Winslett in Infinite Ammo
Friday, February 24, 2012 at 10:00 am
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Sometimes my resolve just isn't as strong as I would like to believe. I make a concrete, unflinching, definite decision on something, and then I take the exact opposite course of action.

Last week I made the claim that I did not own a PlayStation Vita, nor did I plan on picking one up anytime soon. This was not a decision I came to lightly, but rather something I had been debating since the handheld console's announcement over a year ago.

As of last week I had finally decided that I would not be investing in a Vita. Period. The end. There was no need to argue about it because my mind was firmly made up.

As I sit writing this, the Vita is less than a day away from its wide release here in the States and, honestly, there is a damn good chance I'll be beating down the door of my local Target come 8 a.m., eager to claim one of the shiny bits of goodness for my very own.

If asked why I am having this sudden change of heart, the only response I could possibly give (Other than "I'm weak. Don't judge me!") would be "I couldn't fight the hype."


It's easy to ignore hype when it pertains to something you have little to no interest in. I completely forgot about this year's Super Bowl until someone brought it up in conversation the day before the big event. There are plenty of movies people will line up around the block on opening day for that I have no desire to ever see for myself. And no matter how much chatter I hear around the water cooler concerning that hot new show on Fox, I can usually guarantee that you won't find me on the couch, excitedly tuning in to find out what big mystery the team will be solving this week.

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When it comes to video games, though, I care. I care a whole bunch. While there are certainly genres that I tend to avoid, there have been numerous occasions when a hotly anticipated game in said genres has got the ole' hype wheel turning so furiously that I find my mouth watering for a taste. Why? Because it's new, shiny, and everyone on the planet is talking about how great it is. Once I remind myself that I don't actually want to play a World War II flight sim, however, it's usually pretty easy to just look the other way and let the hype die down.

And then there are those times when I opt not to pick something up despite the fact that it's something I really, really want. Maybe it will be a strain on the budget this month. Maybe I just got something in the same genre or something else I want even more is coming out two weeks later. Maybe I'm convinced there will be a "Game of the Year" edition in a year and, if I can just hold out until then, I can save myself a little money. When that happens, I usually just ignore everything that has anything to do with whatever it is that has my heart going pitter-patter and just let the hype wash past me.

Pretty much all of those reasons helped me eventually settle on not buying a Vita. I have quite a few friends who could vouch for how many times I flip-flopped on the matter. I decided that waiting on a price drop or a newer model of the Vita would be a wiser decision, or that if I waited a year, I could likely get a bunch of great games at a fraction of their initial cost.

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But all the while, the hype train was rolling in the back of my mind, chugging along harder and faster than is usually the case due to the extra attention the launch of a new gaming console tends to garner. It all started when I got to play around with the thing at last year's E3. When I eventually had to put the Vita down and move on to the next booth, my fingers were still itching to play. As the console got closer to launch, I started seeing more and more articles, preview and reviews for the Vita, making it harder than ever to ignore.

These past few weeks have been especially rough. You can't watch TV for more than five minutes without seeing those Taco Bell commercials offering a chance to win one of the consoles (though I can happily say that I did not blindly run off to said restaurant to try my luck). The U.S. hardware reviews have been rolling in, which have been exclusively positive as far as I've seen. And then there are those early adopters who got their hands on a Vita a week early and have been throwing in their two cents about how amazing the thing is.

Every other article, forum post or tweet I read as of late seems to be about the Vita and, more damaging to my resolve, how much fun people are having with it. The chatter is everywhere. It's been the kind of hype I simply can't ignore.

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It's gotten to the point where I feel like there is a party going on and I have decided not to attend. More accurately, it is a party I deeply want to attend but, for a multitude of reasons, have decided that I will not.

Hype is a funny creature. It makes something we don't want seem like something we might actually dig, and something we already want feel like something we absolutely can't live without.

I guess the best I can do is sleep on it one more night and see what the morning brings. If I do decide to take the plunge, I'll likely spend the next several days convincing myself that there is no shame in giving in when it comes to something that could provide me with hours upon hours of entertainment and joy. Maybe it's not so bad to just let the hype win sometimes. You only live once, right?

Infinite Ammo is a weekly column by Ryan Winslett about video games, the industry that make them and the people who play them. He can be stalked via his blog at staticechoes.com and followed on twitter @RyanWinslett.

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