Shiny pictures, flashy ads - heck, even simple black letters on a red field are enough to hook me. When John Romero promised to make me his bitch, I promptly rushed out and bought a nice dress. After all, if I was going to be his bitch, I wanted to look like a nice bitch.

I'm an older gamer - in some cultures, I might even be considered "grown up." Yet most of my peers in my age group tend to be extremely skeptical of pre-release game hype. While I get caught up with the young gamers fawning and cooing over the polygon counts and frame rates in advertisements, gamers my age scoff and ask such heretical questions as "Yeah, but what is the gameplay like?"

I want to be like my peers. They're the mature, wizened men of the community. I should be one of them: a man set in his ways, distinguished, careful in his consideration, perhaps even so far as jaded. But every month I go through my stack of the latest gaming magazines and I get excited at every glossy ad, every "exclusive" preview and every "sneak peak." Don't even get me started on "special feature fold-out covers."

On the other side of all this excitability is my wallet. Even more pressing than the shame of the peers I respect, my wallet attempts to exert some modicum of control over me. Every time I see an advertisement for the latest and greatest soon-to-be-released game, my wallet begins screaming in a desperate attempt to drown out the siren lure of the hype.

I try to be a responsible adult. I budget amounts for games and try to stay within that budget, but invariably I fall prey to marketing because I'm a simpleton.

In late 2003, one of my favorite games, Puzzle Pirates, came out. Was I one of the first to be playing because I knew it would be the exact sort of game I love? No, because I was busy being infuriated by the Lineage II beta. This was a game that, had I spent any amount of time researching, I would have instantly realized I wouldn't like. But because I had seen promotions for it and got caught up in discussions involving its usage of the Unreal 2 Engine and not about the actual gameplay, I rushed out to buy a copy of the game. I never even finished my free trial period.

I'm not saying Lineage II is a bad game. But if I had looked beyond its buzz, I would've known pretty quickly that it wasn't a game for me. Level grind, limited character creation, endless hunting - all things I don't enjoy. Yet because the hype meter on it was reading high, I became brainwashed.

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