I have a habit of loving certain video games too much. They grab me and don’t let go, to the point where I stay with one too long and ignore other games that I’ve bought and want to play. You may be in the same boat as me. Most of the times I love the game I’m playing, but after a certain point, I wonder why I’ve invested hundreds of hours into a game and refuse to play a new one. Recently this has been the case for me with Civilization V. I’ve been thinking about what commonality lies between these games; what is it about these games that make me not want to stop? Here are three categories that personally keep me hooked.

Games With No Clear Stopping Point

Open World Games – The initial thought that led to this category was Bethesda’s RPGs, but I soon began to realize how many games it could apply to, be it an MMORPG, Monster Hunter, GTA, Minecraft, or Day Z. Any game that allows for wandering around endlessly will lead to wandering around endlessly. Especially The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Oh Skyrim, how you’ve taken away hours of my life in a blink of an eye. Even after a quest is completed I have no desire to stop playing because there’s always part of my brain going, “Ooh, what’s over here!”

Strategy Games – I never understood why people found Civilization addicting until I bought it. Playing a full match from the ancient era to the Information era can take upwards of 10 hours, and there’s always something to do. Gameplay is a slow-but-seamless transition as the civilization becomes more advanced, so there is no “good” place to stop. There are so many interconnected systems that something is always changing and getting better or worse. The same applies to Shogun 2: Total War, which I have spent way too many hours in.

Pokémon – Pokémon is addicting because not only do you want to progress and continue beating gym leaders, but because there is a constant desire to find and catch new Pokémon that could help you to do just that. Unlike many RPGs where there is a set party that progresses through the story, Pokémon allows for hundreds of beasts in your party, which fuels a desire to keep striving for the perfect lineup. Sure there are technically good places to stop like when you beat a trainer, but you always want to keep going and face the next opponent. This affable franchise has taken away hundreds of hours from kids and adults alike.


“One more run” Games

Super Meat Boy – Super Meat Boy was one of the first games that simultaneously catered to my frighteningly short attention span and also made me aware of said frighteningly short attention span. I completed Super Meat Boy in spite of its difficulty because it was so easy to restart. The moment Meat Boy dies is the moment Meat Boy gets to try again. The excruciating difficulty was made tolerable and compelling because of this short gameplay loop.

Geometry Wars 2 – I’ve included Geometry Wars 2 here not only because it is an excellent game that I’ve spent a bunch of time playing – it also is harkens back to the coin-op quarter eaters of the past that that I haven’t played. Geometry Wars 2 controls beautifully as a twinstick shooter, and gives plenty of challenging gameplay modes to rotate through. I played an exorbitant amount of Pacifism mode for a while there. 

Many worthwhile iPhone and Android games – 10000000, Super Hexagon, Threes, Tiny Wings, Jetpack Joyride, etc., are fueled by the idea of of “one more run” or “this time I can do better.” Whether you consider some of these games to be good or not is a matter of personal preference, but it’s hard to deny that games like Candy Crush Saga and Threes have found a recipe that keeps people coming back for more. 


Competitive Online Games 

Playing against another human being is so much fun because humans are unpredictable; you never know what your opponents have up their sleeve. The satisfaction of winning against another person is so satisfying that once a match is over I want that satisfaction again and begin searching for another match. But the devious thing is once I lose, I want to play again because I want to redeem myself. So it’s a cycle that’s extremely easy to keep going with.

FIFA 13 – You may be a competitive player of Starcraft II, League of Legends, or a fighting game, but for me, it’s FIFA. I didn’t intend to get so into it, but FIFA has a Seasons mode that lets you play against competitors from division 10 at the lowest level to division 1 at the highest. If you get enough wins over a 10-game stretch in a division, you move up, and the goal of getting to division 1 has been a carrot on a stick that I enjoy chasing. I’ve come to love FIFA, and I never get tired of it. I think it’s because no goal is ever the same. It always comes from a different angle and from a different pass that I set up, and it’s always deeply satisfying. The game has made me appreciate the sport in a way that I never thought I would.

Shooters – Many gamers have put more time than they would like to admit into a given shooter. Whether it’s Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Halo, or Team Fortress 2, there’s something viscerally satisfying about besting an opponent on the battlefield. For me personally, Halo 2, Modern Warfare 2, and Team Fortress 2 are games I’ve put years into for better and for worse. There’s something so eminently playable about a good shooter; the maps keep changing, I do a little better or worse each time, and I always want to improve, so I don’t stop. Sometimes shooters can be pure joy; other times they play to your competitive spirit and ego. There’s also a great team aspect when playing shooters with your friends, because everyone can communicate and work together. As long as developers keep finding new ways to make shooting people in the face interesting, multiplayer shooters will always be popular. 

What are some games that keep you hooked? Share your picks in the comments below.