I have been into video games for nearly my entire life. In my youth, we owned an Intellevision, which offers ours of pixilated fun, though I could never understand what the games were about. Then my parents bought us a Nintendo when I was five, which opened a whole new world og gaming with Mario and Zelda. As life moved on, we owned a Super Nintendo, a Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Dreamcast, Playstation, Playstation 2, Gamecube, Xbox, and now Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. I’ve been around the gaming block and played hundreds of games, many which have been great and plenty that have been awful. But across these systems, I always tried to stretch out and try new games and different genres.

Over the past couple of years, I have noticed that my friends list on Xbox has changed dramatically. Not that I have fewer or more friends, but that if my friends are not watching a movie on Netflix, they are playing the exact same first-person shooter (which shall remain nameless to avoid any flame-war) day-in and day-out. I, on the other hand, had gotten sick of that game and traded it in long ago to Game Stop for a new game I had not tried.

Over the ensuing weeks, I have taken a lot of heat from people on my friends list for violating my “loyalty” to that franchise by playing other games like Deus Ex, Gears of War 3, and even Your Shape Fitness Evolved (gotta get the exercise somehow). This got me a little angry. I don’t play games to attain a numbered rank or reach a certain kill-death ratio, I play for fun. And if a game is getting old to me, I’m going to pick up a different one and play.

I would like to say that it was only a couple of friends who said this, but it was a large number, many of them independent from one another. Maybe I just attract some messed up friends, but if this is a microcosm of where the gaming society is going then I am concerned. If we back ourselves into one gaming genre or title, be it shooter or sports, Call of Duty or Battlefield, then there are tons of amazing titles we are missing out on simply because we feel some loyalty to a brand name.

I challenge you, my fellow gamers, to get out and try a new game. Check Game Stop’s used old bin, plenty of games are in there for $10 or less that are awesome.

Finally, when you try a new game, don’t compare it to your favorite game. When I walked out of Transformers the Move, I didn’t say “Those special effects were better than Star Wars, but Star Wars had a better storyline.” I walked out and said “Michael Bay sure knows how to make stuff blow up but he sucks at telling a story.” Judge the games on their own merits or lack thereof (I am looking you Call of Duty and Battlefield fans). Games CAN be similar and different at the same time.

Ultimately, try new games. Get some demos on Xbox Live or on the Playstation Network. Try ‘em out, you just might surprise yourself.