Are Video Games Too Long?
I know in my last blog I wrote about how easy it is to go ahead and play games to your heart's content, and for all intents and purposes, that's still true. However, I've noticed a trend that's been picking up speed in the gaming community and I'm a bit perplexed.
Game length, or the amount of time it takes to beat a game, was a thing that maybe I didn't care about until I started getting older. Either way, when I was growing up, I didn't really think about video games as being too long. I kind of just played them. Games like Super Mario World, Megaman, Metroid, etc. The list goes on. I can't speak for actual playtime on all of these, but for the most part, these games could be beaten fairly quickly. It felt like a fast, glorious sprint, whenever a game was beaten. My time with each game was cherished and well worth the money spent.
Over time, video games have evolved, and become much more than what people originally thought they could be. Short, 8 hour games have been transformed into wonderfully thought out worlds that people can explore hours on end. Games like the Witcher 3 and Dragon Age come to mind. These games have always had longer campaigns, but the threshold of that gameplay length has been extended over sequential installments in the series. The Witcher 3 has been said to take about 40-60 hours to beat the main campaign, but includes over 200 hours of gameplay. 200 HOURS!! Talk about getting a bang for your buck. Why spend $13.50 on a movie that lasts 2 hours when you can spend $60 on a game with similar aesthetic quality and get over 200 hours of entertainment?
Why wouldn't I?
While 200+ hours of video gaming sounds like an awesome deal, it's also something that sounds physically and mentally exhausting to me. As you already know if you've read my last post, I'm married, so I have a finite amount of time-per-week to spend on gaming. While I could devote most of my time to playing a very long game, I prefer to game in a stop and start manner. Games that have an in depth and demanding story, don't tend to mesh well with my lifestyle. I enjoyed Bloodborne so much because you are supposed to die a lot, so when I died and was sent back to the hub world, I had an easy stopping point.
All of that being said, I don't want people to think I'm just some sissy who doesn't like to commit to long hauls. I love that we have all different types of experiences, but why do we, as gamers, demand more hours out of a video game when we don't even finish them half of the time? Would we be as satisfied if games were shorter? As evidence foretells, sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Journey, is a game that came out for the PS3 that took around 2 hours to beat, yet it is heralded as one of the best games of our generation. Another game, The Order 1886, took on a similar approach and was ripped apart by the gaming community. Of course these two games can't be compared, and we all know that The Order had it's problems, but both of these games took a similar short game approach. One crushed it, and the other got crushed.
With the increasing demand for more out of video games, it seems as though the consumer base is supporting the idea of a shorter campaign model. People today are distracted by so many things we simply cannot focus for more than a few hours at a time. Even the video game market can be considered a distraction. We attempt to start a new video game, get about halfway in, another game comes out that steals our interest, and the cycle continues. I can honestly say that I've only completed about 3 or 4 out of the 20+ games that I own on my PS4.
This all seems so sad and dark, but it's also one the best times to be a gamer. Ultimately, there needs to be a place for everything. I'm glad that I have the ability to go back to my library of games and play what I want to, based on my mood that I'm in. We have such a variety of experiences at our disposal and we have the option to pick and choose what we want. If we want a long immersive experience, we can look to the big developers to push out exactly that. If we want a shorter and unique experience we can look to the unsung heroes of the 'indie scene.'
In my opinion, I think it's ridiculous to expect the amount of gameplay that The Witcher 3 provides. I prefer games that are shorter that I can beat in just a few sittings. I'll make exceptions for a few, but rarely will I attempt to play a game that takes too much of my time.
Are you a person who enjoys the multi-hour long story, or are you a person who prefers short, compact experiences? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Also...If you notice any typos or just crappy writing, feel free to let me know! I'm trying to build my skills!