At some fundamental level, all games are built from the same basic concept. From Skyrim to football to Monopoly to poker, a player has both a goal and a set of rules that frame exactly how he or she achieves that goal. Some rules say what you can do, some say what you cannot. All the same, something about our brains craves rules. In a very innately human way, they create challenges for us to exercise our minds and bodies. At the same time, it’s very arbitrary.

Call me a cheapskate if you want, but I haven’t paid full price for a PC video game in at least a year. At the same time, I have well over a hundred games in my Steam library, and at least a dozen more from other digital download services. What’s strange, however, is that at least a quarter of them I’ve never played; of those, I bet at least half of them I never will. Yet I scope out new game deals nearly every day, and fight the temptation to add the increasingly backlogged catalog of games. Do I have a problem? Probably. I’m working on it.

Those of us who are truly into video games, who have been gaming consistently since we were small, all recognize and hold dear a certain nostalgia when remembering the games of yore. There was something special to them, and none of us are quite sure whether it was something intrinsic to the spirit of the game, or whether our perceptions had changed since we were six years old. Only now do I realize that nothing is missing from modern gaming, but rather something has been added. And that something is remorse. Mercy.