When was the last time you were hungry? What did you think about while waiting to satiate that feeling? Where did your mind take you? What types of foods could you remember tasting or smelling as you narrowed down your options and chose a meal?

Hunger is one of those things our body does that transcends the simple notion or thought of the state of being hungry. Hunger takes over our entire being, piece by piece. It begins with the thought of hunger, the question you ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” If you leave it unanswered, the thought becomes a physical feeling in your stomach. A slight rumble or gurgle tells the rest of you that, yes, indeed you are hungry.

The longer you wait to fulfill that hunger, the more that your brain will start to take everything else over. It begins with the consideration of the options available to you. The more options you have, the wilder the craving becomes. Your mind extrapolates the data given and you begin to imagine a virtual menu that spins on an axis in the eye of your mind. Pictures of food begin to carousel rapidly against the wall between your eyes and your mind. What looks good?

A few lucky choices will make the next round as you continue the consideration. To help you with your choice, memory climbs aboard to bring you the next two senses: smell and taste. Your imagination combines the pictures with the scents and flavors that you remember from the last time you feasted on the options given. You narrow down the ones that were undercooked last time, or were seasoned weirdly. Yes, only the final few will contain the most satisfying of variety. By now, your mouth is likely watering as you are left with just one final choice to make.

Pizza or Taco Bell?

Or, whatever your choices were, I guess.

At last you’ve reached a decision and you prepare or order or buy the food. You take it to a place where you’ve decided to eat, be it a table or the driver’s seat or just a random curb. You unwrap it, cut it open, or just reach for it and piece by piece you throw it into your mouth and chew it up. Each flavor splashes across your tongue and electrifies your taste buds; new memories are created for the next time you have to choose. Your teeth rip apart the larger pieces and work to toss the bits around every part of the surface area within your mouth. Bite after bite, you swallow it down until there is nothing left in front of you. The hunger is gone.

The meal itself was complete in a manner of minutes, but how long had it been since your brain first asked the question, “Am I hungry?” How much longer did you spend thinking about what might be good or what you might want than you did actually eating it? Was it minutes or hours? Did you plan a big meal a few days in advance and count it down until it arrived? How did it finally turn out? Was it everything that your brain remembered or anticipated it to be? Was it worse? Was it better?

We do this thing to ourselves where we build things up and create something much more than what reality will deliver. We think the best or the worst and we assume that what we don’t know will reach one of these two extremes. Usually, the final outcome is much more muted than what we anticipated. It’s difficult to bring those extremes of our imagination into real life, as the best will often fall short and the worst will always surprise us.

It’s within that time before however, where we typically feel and experience the most of something. Once it happens, the moment is gone. It’s already behind us just as soon as it started. It’s the build that drives us. The build is what keeps us focused on something and what delivers the widest range of emotion.

Video games will always be something that we anticipate. Development cycles are so long now, that developers and publishers are sure to keep us in the loop as early as possible without ruining any of the surprise. There’s a fleet of people who are hired to know when a company should start promoting something. We argue about whether that time should be shortened or increased every time a new game is given a release date.

Once that machine begins, our minds join it on the journey to release. If a game is something we truly look forward to, we mark it on our calendars and spend every moment on alert in case new information should surface. We become members of forums, we draw pictures, we send messages to our friends, and we ramble on to anyone who allows even the smallest opportunity for us to bring that thing into the conversation.

2017 is prime for big, new, and exciting things to anticipate. Nintendo is only a month away from releasing the Nintendo Switch, a console we’ve been waiting for since it was first revealed as NX in March 2015. We spent the rest of that year waiting for 2016, because we knew that was when we could learn more about the ambiguous console. We then waited ten months for Nintendo to show us the future, and we spent every day thinking, “Tomorrow is the day.”

With the Switch, Nintendo is finally bringing us The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the next installment in the thirty year old franchise. First revealed at E3 2014 for the Wii U, we’ve rewatched every trailer backwards and forwards a hundred times trying to find new information. We picked out background details, assuming them to be locales we recognize, like Death Mountain. We tried to figure out if Link was a girl and what secrets the world was hiding within the trees.

The end of the year is promising Microsoft’s next console, currently codenamed Project Scorpio, a successor to the Xbox One that won’t leave its four year old predecessor behind. The potential for home consoles to exist more like the market that players on PC have grown accustomed to is about to explode. With the pending release, we expect Microsoft to begin showing new and exciting games to go along with the new hardware.

It’s also a year for sequels and new beginnings. Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 are set for midyear launches, with Marvel vs Capcom Infinite expected as well. Gravity Rush and Resident Evil just had new entries release and South Park and Sonic the Hedgehog are due for new sequels soon. Yooka-Laylee will see the return of Banjo-Kazooie developers to their roots while Mass Effect: Andromeda hopes to find new ground.

The year is just ahead of us and we’re eager to see what it has in store. So eager that we know we’ll start to create new realities for a lot of these games and platforms before we really know what’s ahead. We’ll spend more time thinking about what these games will and can be than we likely will actually playing them.

This month, we’ll focus on the stories that we have of our most anticipated games and the lengths that we let our minds wander to. We’ll share stories about some of the wildest expectations we had and the realities of what eventually came. We’ll play some of the games that we were so excited for and talk about how we feel about them years later.

Posted by Joe Dix

Joe is the creator of The Free Cheese. He eats a lot of pizza and takes thousands of pictures of his pugs Oswald and Earl every day.

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