However, a few years ago I started to realize that there is a near-infinite level of replayability that is really, really bad for me. The classic example of this are the games in the Civilization series. Even winning a game doesn't necessarily mean that you've "finished", because you can immediately start again and have a somewhat different experience of playing the game. I find this incredibly compelling, and this style of game has eaten up more of my playtime than any other over the course of my life.
The other example was one I realized only a few weeks ago, but it prompted this post. That was the football game I own, NCAA 08. I don't find that replayability in the individual games of football, but rather in the mode where you act as head coach, guiding a team's strategy and recruiting players to replenish your team. The process is very repetitive, since football seasons are much like each other in an unchanging computer environment. Still, especially in the recruiting aspect, the game continually serves up varied conditions that compel me to keep playing.
So, why do I call this bad? Well, there are two reasons. The first one is actually something I've only been doing the last few years, which is trying to take trophies. I do want to have a stack of good games on my shelf that I have "finished" (by which I mean completing the main plot and as much of the additional content as I find enjoyable: usually probably ~70% of stuff to do in a modern game). I like being able to say I beat something and know it well enough to talk about, and playing more games gives me more geek cred. By contrast, the endless games don't do that. Since they never end, they never go on the shelf(huh. I wonder how MMOs relate to this theory).
The other problem is related. When I'm off a civilization building binge, i suddenly realize that I don't have a lot to show for it: I rarely learn anything, I haven't talked to anybody since it's a solo game, and I've missed out on other things to play turns in games I won't remember. It's a depressing feeling, but I always get roped in again.
Huh, I should sleep. Hope people have enjoyed this.