Right now a Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Google Stadia, Google Pixel 3a, Laptop, PlayStation Classic, and Retro games pod sit on the shelf staring back at me. Each containing more experiences that will enrich my life but there is too much choice.
This myriad of choice usually ends with the turning of the console off and the switching of Netflix on. Too much choice means that you play nothing, or at least in my case it does. With such a numerous collection of games and less and less time to play them each year, how do you prioritise? Do you focus on one game at a time, but then if you do that, how do you choose that first game? Is it the highest-rated and what happens when new games are released and you see others playing? How do you do it?
Too much choice in life
Out of the frying pan and into the fire. The switch to Netflix doesn't exactly help when you realise that you also have Amazon Prime, Disney+, the WWE Network, YouTube, and a selection of Blu-Rays and DVDs staring back at you from the shelf.
Having too many choices is actually harder than a defined few.
In his well-known work, psychologist Barry Schwartz, calls this choice paralysis. He argues that more choices make us less likely to take action, and to be less satisfied with our eventual decision. With so many great options, we can only blame ourselves if we’re not meeting our own standards, and we engage in frequent regret about the roads not taken.
The Hedghes Company, The suprising poverty of too many choices
So you turn Netflix off and the entire TV for that matter, cursing the world for giving you too much choice and withdrawing the knowledge of how to make sense of it all. You then turn to the books that have been neglected for years and realise that the same problem is staring you back in the face. It’s enough to turn the sanest person, crazy.
We have so much choice that often times we end up accomplishing nothing, with the fear of what we’re missing out on permeating through everything that we do. This is why restaurant’s that provide too much choice on the menu don’t do as well as those who embrace simplicity. As a species, we are unable to process too much information, and this how we can end up doing nothing.
More than ten years of entertainment
Earlier this year, the content of my shelves were scanned and compared against the time it takes to complete each experience, in order to come up with a cumulative total. This for me stood at ten years and does not include any expansion to my family or other career transitions. In essence, game over, as practically speaking, the time to complete them all is not available, unless someone locks me in a room for years on end and all there was available to do was digest all these experiences. That is also assuming that insanity didn’t take over first.
Added to this mismatch of entertainment is the desire to invest in Virtual Reality. The Oculus Quest is sitting on my Amazon Wishlist, taunting me each day like a child staring into a sweet shop. It is there on the virtual shelf screaming out to be purchased. So far logic has prevailed and the purchase has not been made. The item has stayed within the realm of the wish, where it should stay until one night when too many beers pass through my lips, and it will seem to be the greatest idea in the world. At this point my hope is that the item is still not available and thus the purchase will be refused. To purchase would inject my body with a momentary boost before the regret would hit and realisation that more choice has been added to a library already-fit to bursting point.
It is very much a middle-class problem to have and there are millions worse off, not just today but every day. This is a fact. The journey to purchasing so many games, books, films, and entertainment sources is a personal one. The problem is self-inflicted, which in turn has created a level of FOMO (Fear of missing out) that no-one wants in life. We all have desires and material possessions that we want, with the ultimate outcome here being, the more that we purchase, the more that we want.
The Oculus Quest will take my gaming to the next level. It is a device that can be afforded on my salary, but, to click the button would drive me into a new level of despair. With an hour-a-day to choose from a library of over a hundred games and seven separate consoles, where do you start? What do you focus on? Games have not been replayed in my household for years, despite having first-class experiences such as Metal Gear Solid staring back at me.
The solution to this problem would be to reduce the number of consoles and experiences but that would result in re-buying down the line. Many of these gaming adventures and movies are classics and worthy of investment in time, so that cannot be the conclusion.
Thinking more about how, why, and when is the conclusion for me. The experiences that sit on my shelf yearn to be played and they will be, just not today and maybe not even this year. Sticking with the current generation and not upgrading early and leaving experiences behind is what is required. Right now, the PlayStation 5 is a dream and one that may very well be skipped to ensure that no experience is left behind.