The lights are on
The day before Grand Theft Auto V came out I could feel the knot in my stomach growing. I wasn't excited. I was nervous. I was worried that GTA would soon consume my life, and part of me just wanted to play something shorter.
I don't get game anxiety often, but when I do it's usually around a game that I'm looking forward to and know that I'm going to spend a lot of time playing. I love playing games like Skyrim and Assassin's Creed III, but they aren't small commitments. At the risk of sounding like an old man, when I was younger these kinds of time commitments weren't a big deal; I had all the time in the world, and all I wanted to do with that time was play games.
I also couldn't afford many games, so when I got one, I wanted it to last a really long time. Now my life has changed. I can afford nearly as many games as I want (and I want them all), but I've also acquired certain familial and relational obligations that eat up some of my free time. Basically I have more games to play, and less time to do it. Damn, that does make me sound a bit like an old man.
I hear this argument a lot, and even though I agree with it, I'm also tired of it. The simple fact is that we produce more entertainment than you'll ever be able to consume in your lifetime. While that makes the completionist in me cringe a little, it should fill the bored little eight-year-old in me with joy.
Back to my main point, I think there is space in the gaming market for larger games like GTA V as well as shorter experiences. Not long ago, I played Gone Home. It was a breath of fresh air. I loved the game's haunting atmosphere and relaxed, exploration-based gameplay. In fact, it wasn't much of a game, but more of an interactive storytelling experience. And I was fine with that, because the whole experience was extremely compelling.
Gone Home only took around 2-3 hours to complete, but I enjoyed everything I did throughout. Compare that to games like GTA or Skyrim, which are bound to feature a few lame-duck missions or periods where you feel like you're grinding. Shorter games get to the point quickly and can deliver an impactful experience without fluff because they're not worried what the clock will read when the credits roll. Short games can focus on a singular gameplay element and polish it to the extreme because developers don't have a dozen other systems to worry about.
Honestly, I'm not trying to complain about games like GTA V and Skyrim, which do a great job giving players massive worlds to explore and plenty of entertaining ways to do so. I'm worried about the games that feel like they have to compete with GTA V and Skyrim – the less-polished titles from developers that think no one will buy their game unless it is a sprawling 50+ hour experience. I'm worried about games that are full of fetch quests and repetitive combat arenas in an effort to artificially lengthen their playtime. All games don't need to be massive. In fact some of my favorite games over the last generation have been shorter titles, like The Walking Dead, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Portal, Plants vs. Zombies, Journey, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
But who can blame a studio for feeling the pressure to artificially lengthen a game when people complain about game length all the time?
We don't value short games as much as longer games – at least I know I don't support short games as much as longer ones. I spent $60 on Diablo III, because I knew I'd get my "money's worth" from the title, but I borrowed this year's Tomb Raider because I figured I could beat it in a weekend. However, looking back, I think I value my time with Tomb Raider more than I value my time with Diablo III. So was I wrong to borrow a game instead of buying it? I don't think so, but I know that I need to rethink the way I view the value of a game.
I've been conditioned to think that if I spend $60 on a game then it needs to last a few weeks or more. On the other hand, I'm willing to spend $10 to see a movie in the theater that's only an hour-and-a-half. So why do I cringe when I'm asked to spend $15 on a game that's twice as long? I'll easily drop $40 in one night out with friends at a restaurant; so why do I feel like a game with the same price point should last a week? There are games out there that I've enjoyed more than a trip to Disneyland, and yet I don't spend Disneyland money on video games?
We've all been socially conditioned to expect a certain price points and a certain completion length from our games. But maybe we should stop asking, "How long is this game?" and start asking, "Does this game deliver a meaningful experience? Is it a constructive use of my entertainment budget? Is it a valuable piece of gaming art?"
I think we've come a long way. Back during the PlayStation 2 generation, I remember people complaining that Ico was too short. The game took about six hours to complete, but it ended up being one of my most cherished memories of that generation. Can you imagine if the industry had taken gamers' reactions to Ico to heart? Would developers have felt confident enough to release games like The Walking Dead, or Journey, or Portal?
I know that some gamers have to be cost conscious, and I'm not saying that you have to spend more money on video games, but let's stop complaining about how long a game is, and start rewarding developers for making good games that have real value whatever their length.
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And out of this, I can largely agree. I love shorter games, and will defend MW2's short campaign because it was fun as heck. But my main take away is, I wait until games hit $40 because $60 is "too much," but like he said I went to a bar and spent $60 (tipping almost 40%) while watching the Clemson game. Doesn't really make sense, he's right.
I agree entirely with Ben "Papa Grande" Reeves over here. I'm in my second year of college at TCNJ and most of my free time is taken up by doing work, going to classes, and hanging out with my friends. I don't really have the time to play through huge games, although I'll happily make an exception for great games like GTA. I had been playing Pokemon Mystery Dungeon on 3DS but gave up because it was too time consuming and too much of a grind. Instead I played through Uncharted on Vita and had a much better time. do fit in a ton of quality time playing Injustice with friends along with N64 multiplayer classics too though.
I like long games.
I generally prefer longer games. Its the devs job to have a set conviction and stick to it, not feel forced to make a game long(or short) because of outside pressure. Let the devs decide what game they want to make. Then you decide if you want to play it.
I have no problem with long games as long as they have and open world. Long linear games can sometimes hold me down.
I partly agree and disagree. I like long games but don't always feel like having to devote the time to them, because like you said, I have time I need to devote to things other than gaming. However, I also want my money's worth of length. If I'm paying $60 for a game it better last a good deal. For me, anything between 12-20 hours is a good range. Anything below 10 hours and it feels like a rip off, at least for that price tag.
A short game is fine if it's on ds or vita or even console.but games likes assassins creed,batman,gta,.etc needs to tell a good and long story
GTA 5 is actually fairly short for GTA standards.
*** your opinion its wrong I'm not going to spend 60+ dollars on a 2 hour game. If your too old and hate video games quit gameinformer and take out garbage for four hours every other day of the week oh and take the weekends off since playing video games is soooo hard.
There really is some hate on this article. I wouldn't spend $60 on a two hour game, that's for sure, but I enjoy them and sometimes I would prefer to play a shorter game than one that is going to take me forever to finish. I rarely pay $60 for a game unless it is one that I am unbelievably excited about, such as Bioshock Infinite, however, that's only since I'm in college and can't afford it. But if I were in Ben's situation, I suppose money wouldn't be the issue. Just not having enough time would be, as he says. Kudos for having an honest opinion.
This is pretty true. When I was younger, my parents would buy the games for me till I started working at 15 and I would play one game for hours till I beat it and went on to the next game. Now that I have a full time job, and and more money, I am now not limited to the games I play but playing a 30+hrs game now is a pretty big commitment and now I have to plan on which game I should play next. Im always checking websites to see how long it take to beat a game yet im still very backlogged. I also think the introduction of better free to play games is also making it a double edge sward.
$60 on Dishonored? No thanks, after I heard the story was less than 8 hours, I was out. Long games are king.
sometimes when a game is too long, it get tiring and old. gta is one of the few exceptions in my list. oblivion and skyrim bored me to death and i stop playing them...
One Game costs 8000-9000 in my country depending on the exchange rate. So buying a 2-3 hr game is just unrealistic for my wallet.
you make a good point on all this ben and while i fully agree i also do/have the same issue with wanting to pay for the longer games first over shorter , i've also used the movie theature comparasin in justifying my habit of buying games against my father who goes to the movies n drops 15 on a ticket and another 10 on food/drink there and only gets 1.5-3 hours worth for the price , least i know most games ( that i buy for 60) will give me 20 or more hours to the price , and with the lack of funds lately that means a heck of alot to me.
this said i do also know the feeling of having less time to play them , before i lost my job in january the only time i had to play games was weekends and when my hours had gotten cut for the better of a month and i only beat 3 games last yr ( makes me said) mostly due to the fact that if i started playing after i got up before work i wouldn't be able to get that nap before work in cause i'd loose track of time ( worked night shift). i'm currently job hunting again after taking a break to get my living situation squared away and i half dred not having time again , but over the summer i've discovered my love of rogue-likes and i'm sure i'll game more this time since theres alot of great short cheaper games i've since discovered i love.