I was going to put up my update on the Essen 2011 project, but that was before reading The Promise of Play by Matt Thrower at Fortress Ameritrash, who puts the finger on the sore spot: we gamers keep buying even if we know the chances of the game actually getting played are slim. Maybe this post helps explaining why we get into conundrums like project Essen 2011 at all.
I'm not sure I agree that there's a collecting instinct behind this urge to buy. I think it rather connects to the idea of the anti-library, first coined by Umberto Eco, and brought to my attention by my friend and librarian Nick. The anti-library is all the unread books on your shelves, the collection of knowledge or experience that we still aspire to.
It is as much the anticipation as the real urge to know. A world of possibilities opening up as you stroke the pages, browse through the table of contents and scan the tables and illustrations.
It easily translates to the unpainted miniatures and the unplayed games in your closets. In our minds they are already marching across the fields towards the enemy and our friends are already crouched over the board after a long night's gaming, watching as the dice slow down to reveal the verdict of fate.
The purchase is part of an illusionary experience. Probably even better than the real thing, because the figures never turn out as beautiful as we imagine, nor do we add as many laurels to our triumphant parade.
So, in the knowledge of the emptiness and hopelessness of our endeavour, we pursue regardless.
Always hoping, always dreaming.