Diablo 3 came out last month and I have been playing a lot since then. I anticipated this game far more than any other game I have ever played and I was not alone in doing so. Diablo 2 was a enormously popular game and uncountable legions throughout the world were salivating at the thought of getting to play the newest edition. It hasn't lived up to the hype.
Of course, it couldn't.
My memories of Diablo 2 are intertwined with living in a house with 7 friends and hanging out haggling for computer time, arguing about builds and numbers, and generally enjoying being a geek in a place full of geeks. No matter what Diablo 3 was it could never have recreated those memories, especially since those memories are old enough that mostly what remains is a soft glow of good times and very little hard information.
Intellectually I told myself and everyone else that the game could not live up to the hype and anticipation because I *knew* all these things ahead of time. Despite that logical foundation I still harboured hopes of recapturing those feelings from times long ago and a tiny, primitive part of my brain believed that just by paying $59.99 I could relive the times of my youth. Not so much. It turns out that the game is good, and fun, and that it is utterly incapable of simulating a houseful of energetic geeks who are my friends. To usefully simulate those geeks I need real geeks and pretty much any game at all for us to play and argue about - it is entirely the geeks that are important, not the game.
Being a clever sort of person and knowing a fair bit about psychology really doesn't do much at all for making one immune to these sorts of delusions. Just as doctors are still subject to the placebo effect and therapists cannot give themselves therapy armchair psychologists like myself are still fooled by all kinds of mental tricks that in theory we are well prepared for. I need to put some effort into getting geeks into my house to play some games rather than simply waiting for the games themselves to do it for me.