The lights are on
It took me longer to play The Last of Us than most around the Game Informer offices, because I had a personal insistence on playing the game under the proper conditions.
Before the game released, I was discussing it outside of work and my expressed hesitance to play it. I’ve been a big Naughty Dog fan for quite some time. I have fond memories of Crash Bandicoot, the Jak & Daxter series is among my favorite games of the previous generation, and I enjoyed all three Uncharted games. I was confident I would appreciate The Last of Us based on the developer’s pedigree, but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to play the game properly. I don’t mean that I would be holding the controller upside down, or facing away from the television. I was worried the conditions I would be afforded to experience the game – in a house with a child and limited play time – would distract from the tension and story that The Last of Us promised to deliver.
My favorite way to watch a movie is in a theater. It’s not because of the large screen, superior sound system, or the anxiety that envelopes me when people are quietly chatting during the previews and I fear they won’t stop their conversation when the movie begins. It’s my favorite way to watch a movie because it’s the most absorbing way to watch. Pausing the film for bathroom or food breaks is not an option. No one is talking (as long as everyone is acting like polite human beings), and the chairs are just uncomfortable enough where I don’t find myself drifting to sleep during the climax of the film – something that happens 100-percent of the time when I watch movies at home. I am even forced to turn off my phone. The theater is excellent at eliminating distractions and demanding your complete focus. It’s the equivalent of wearing horse blinders while watching TV, but without all the confused questioning from roommates or significant others.
I don’t mind playing most games with distractions. I take breaks frequently, pause games mid-cutscene to eat in fear of surprise quick-time events, and quickly turn games off the moment the baby wakes up from her naps. For The Last of Us, however, I didn’t want to play this way. Normally I might try to get in a nightly 30 minutes on a game, but for Joel and Ellie, I only played when I knew I could devote at least two hours to the game. I even opted out of playing in my living room with the larger TV in favor of a small darkened room where I could sit closer to smaller TV. It was much more intimate.
Playing this way meant I could only play about once a week, but it was worth it. After sitting in a dark room watching the credits roll in a silent house, with quiet snoring from a fast-asleep baby coming from the monitor and my phone switched to silent and placed face-down, I am confident that I made the right decision. Anything less would have felt like I wasn’t playing the game as Naughty Dog intended. In a dark room, it’s also much easier to hide the tears that might appear during a few key moments, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
I enjoyed the hell out of the game, Naughty Dog was able to make me cry a few time's in certain scenes. The power of video game's nowadays are just unreal it's set up like a blockbuster movie that you just don't want to miss out on. This game was an overall great game that I would have given about a 9.25. It was a solid, solid enjoyment of a game that I will remember forever & the impact it left on me as a whole was great. I'm glad you took your time with the game Kyle, and I understand completely what you mean about when there is a right and wrong time to play games which happen more often then people realize. Great Article Kyle & a splendid read.
Great article Kyle.
Having a kid definitely hurts play time. And I need to devote a solid 2 hours when I okay a game as well. Took me 3 months to beat Bioshock Infinite due to these circumstances.
Incredible read Kyle! I played it in the dark as well.
TLOU is my most memorable game this generation and perhaps ever. That's saying a lot since I've been gaming on every system for 20+ years now. I was able to enjoy TLOU without distractions and for 5-6 hour sessions. If someone just didn't get the same tear-jerking reaction to the story, then it could easily be because they played it the wrong way. This isn't a cool zombie shoot-em up you play with 3-4 friends watching you. Best game this generation for me.
Awesome article :D I'm the exact same way when it comes to games with a proper story line. I'm also notorious for reaching a certain point in the plot and not being able to stop until I've beaten it.
glad i dont have a kid yet lol
I really love the Parent Dilemma pieces. This rang true with me on a whole bunch of levels. It's nice to see an example of someone who works in the video game industry and still has a normal family life which im sure most people think doesn't happen. thanks!
I hear you loud and clear. I have a stack of titles dating back to GTA 4 that I just can't get enough "adult time" to play.
Including (just for fun): The Last of Us, The Walking Dead, The Witcher 2, Saints Row 3, Sleeping Dogs, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Spec Ops: The Line, Heavy Rain, DMC, and more. This list is so depressing.
Well at least you played it, that's what matters.
For the mature titles, yep I'm in the same boat. Wednesday and Thursday night are my gaming days to play M games. 9pm to 2pm. It takes longer, oh yes, but as you mentioned Kyle the pay off is well worth it. The Last Of Us needs and deserves to be played in an environment were you can fully enjoy everything the game has to offer.
This is exactly how I played The Walking Dead. I wanted to fully experience each episode of the game, so I would only play when I had the time to complete one whole episode. I feel it made the game much more intense and satisfying.
I waited a week before I bought The Last Of Us because I had family in town staying with me and I knew there would not be time to fully immerse myself into the game. I'm glad I waited because once I got started it was on 'til the break of dawn (when I wasn't at work of course).
Same here. If I can't devote at least 3hrs straight I didn't play. In fact I still haven't beaten the game. I think I'm about half way or more through it.
This described how i watched it on youtube... because i don't have a ps3 :/. Good job on the piece too.
Gotta admit this article made me cringe quite a bit. Just such a melodramatic way of writing an article about video games...