Many don’t see this as a very strong phenomenon.
Since Penny Arcade made a comics about it (can I direct link?):
Gabe keeps coming into the Goddamn office with his Goddamn tales of high adventure, telling me about how there’s tokens or some shit in Burning Crusade now, or maybe tiers, and other words I had scoured from my consciousness. He also says there is hot new five-man content, which initially sounded like pornography. The comic is correct – I purchased it in a moment of weakness. As I must often approach you, the cherished reader, to apologize for this or that indiscretion, it may be more appropriate to say that I have moments of strength which are suspended in cowardice and moral decay.
I’m going to repeat something I wrote on Q23:
The game doesn’t end when you log out. It’s like when there’s a huge release and Q23 is filled with threads. The desire to participate grows on you.
It happens even with TV series. Everyone talks everywhere about “Lost”, so the curiosity rises as well the desire to participate in those discussions. It’s a social thing. And after some point these mass successes influence A LOT how you’ll approach them.
Everyone is in love with something and then you’ll likely approach the thing with a very positive attitude.
It’s about processes of inclusion. You want to play the bigger game and be part of a big community. If you play a game no one knows then you cannot talk with anyone about it and are excluded from every discussion. You are marginalized. While instead people like to melt with the mass and feel like a group.
There was a big movie on TV and the day after everyone is talking about it. But you didn’t watch it and feel left out.
Or you go to school and all your friends talk of WoW. And if you don’t play it you are excluded from that group and just feel envious of them.
Then five years pass and you finally get WoW. To your eyes it’s the best thing EVAR. So you go to school all excited to give them the announce: “Hey guys! I bought WoW it’s AWESOME! We can play together now!” And they go: “What? WoW? Oh that, we stopped playing a year ago. It’s ANCIENT. Now we play this other new game that is SUPERCOOL, has realistic graphic, badass combat…” And suddenly that wonderful WoW in your hands isn’t anymore all that awesome and you are back at envying them.
There are kids who *cry* to no end because all their friends are doing (or have) something that they want TOO. No matter if they really want it. Everyone has it, so they want it as well to not be left “out”.
You can call it hegemony. After something grows past a certain point, then the stone keeps rolling on its own. It’s an inclusive phenomenon. It has the power to influence everyone.
And if you don’t play a game while it’s its “momentum” then you’ll have far less fun (lag excluded). I assure you.