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Press Start: Why?

Consider the following:  You get home from a hard day at work or school.  You plop down in front of the couch, turn on your television and gaming console, and start-up your favorite game to unwind.  You skip the opening sequences and are greeted by a title screen with the words PRESS START.  You bypass that to get to the main menu of the screen.  But then, a nagging thought hits you:

“Wait…what was the point of the Start Screen in the first place?”

It’s like the game’s saying “HEY! HEY YOU! YOU PAYING ATTENTION? I’M ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING COOL, YOU READY?” and then you press start and BAM…it’s the main menu.  Why not just go straight to the main menu? It’s not like you were missing anything either way.  What was the point with it?  Some call it dogmatic.  Still others liken it to something of a tradition. Like washing your underwear or going outside.  Perhaps it’s something more symbolic.  It’s like a mystic door, maan. That, when opened, will reveal a new world of wonder, enjoyment, and wonderfulness.  But what pisses me off is, that 9 times out of 10 you’re not required to push start at all.  In fact, any button will do.  What’s up with that?

Back when arcades were more popular, cabinets had something called ‘attract mode’, which was just the game playing itself and showing off how the gameplay looks. You’d press start after you put in your coins or tokens, since in some games the character selection was limited by time.  This continued with consoles, but seeing it in PC games is really kind of retarded. Well…some games do show off eye candy or a demo. But frankly, there’s not much of a point in it today.  You’re already sold on the game.  Literally!  You’ve already bought/rented it, so what’s to gain from trying to attract you by the time you’ve reached that juncture?

“Uh,  it’s generally the title screen. You press start when you are finished looking at the title screen.  And you’re, like, ready to start.”

Some games choose to unify the title screen and starting menu, but there are various reasons that many games choose not to. Although it’s sometimes bullshit. Another train of though is that there’s some weird subconscious trick going on about having the player press start to “Commit” to the game before you can throw any content at them.

Whatever the case may be, it’s nearly a moot point. I mean, come on. You’ve got a game to play now. So it’s probably best not to commit too much thought to such trivialities.  Cary on, Player One.