I did something I don't normally do. I bought a game. Specifically, I bought Borderlands 2. Now the problem isn't that I bought a game or that it just so happened to be Borderlands 2. The problem is I bought a game I wasn't really ready to play yet. I wasn't ready because I already have a handful of games I'm trying to finish and didn't need to get another game to occupy my already very limited game time (the story of my life). Sure, the ones currently occupying my time are older games or games with no definitive ending. Let's see, I'm over half way through Bioshock and God of War 2. I started Heavy Rain and really want to finish it but it's definitely a "minimum daily exposure" type of game (meaning I can only play it in small doses). Then of course there are my mainstays - Team Fortress 2 and Minecraft...I can play those games anytime and for any length of time, and they never get old.

I planned on getting Borderlands 2...maybe. Honestly I was undecided. But after watching the Game Informer live stream I guess I got caught up in all of the excitement. Contributing to the rash decision was a number of my fellow GIO friends who were on Twitter coordinating who was getting it and for what platform (born4this, I blame you for even bringing it up).  So, I ran out, purchased the game and have been playing it here and there ever since. I'm a few hours in (four hours maybe, and Level 6 I think) and enjoying it so far.

Borderlands 2 isn't the problem. Neither is buying a game in the first place. I don't regret getting it. But I haven't finished those other games yet either and now I'm not sure when I will.

It's somewhat common information that independent studies reveal only half of gamers complete the games they play (some polls say only 10% of gamers complete their games - yes 10%). This is a statistic I've mentioned before in other blogs and that I've seen others quote. Truthfully, I don't know how accurate is - 10% or 50%...who can say for sure. Seems a bit low if you ask me (I thought everybody was like me and had to finish every game they started, but apparently that isn't true), but assuming it's true, I have to presume part of the problem associated with gamers not finishing their games isn't because they're not interested; isn't because the game is somehow lacking; isn't because the game is too difficult and the players are struggling to get through it. No, it's because of peer pressure (or maybe industry pressure).

There is a finite period of time when a game is released that others are playing (and hyping the game). If you wait too long to hop aboard then you will miss out. Think about some of the big titles released this year; games like Mass Effect 3 and Darksiders II that are potentially future Game of the Year contenders. Of course there are people still playing them, but not the huge influx we witnessed standing in line at midnight and over the course of the next few days and/or weeks. I was a bit late to the Mass Effect 3 extravaganza and even by the time I joined the fray, most of the controversy about the ending had already dispersed. Everything I wanted to talk about was old news and nobody was really interested in it. I had several (at least three) blogs I wanted to write about Mass Effect 3, but since I was late to the party and due to the saturation of ME3 blogs I missed the window of opportunity.

I dunno, maybe it's me but it seems like the lifespan of video games continues to shrink - we don't even finish them and we're already casting them to the side for something else. Or maybe it's because I'm from a time where we didn't see annual video game releases of the same title so I'm used to playing a game until the wheels fall off, or in this case...until I've "been there, done that" and there is nothing left to compel me to continue playing the game. I've done everything you can do.

 I suppose with me and my decision to purchase Borderlands 2, I felt like I wanted to be a part of what was going on now; wanted to be able to play it and discuss it (and yes blog about it) while most everybody else was too. If I waited too long, that opportunity would pass. It sucks when people are talking about a game and you haven't played it yet. Never mind the spoilers that might get revealed or not understanding what fellow gamers are talking about...I'm more worried about not experiencing one of those moments that defines who we are as a gamers...an epic moment in the history of gaming. This wouldn't be the first time I played a game just for the experience, not because I was interested in the game.

Sure, you might have heard of "The Cake Is a Lie" but unless you've played the game it doesn't mean anything (and you almost HAVE to finish the game to understand it).  The same is true of "Thank you Mario but our Princess is another Castle." Play the first few levels and you might see a trend, but if you don't press on, get to that final level AND actually find the Princess, it isn't quite the same.

Anyway, by purchasing (and playing) Borderlands 2 I've now put games I was already playing on hold (and contributing to that 10-50% statistic). I think this byproduct of trying to keep up with the industry might be the biggest contributing factor as to why more gamers don't finish the games they're playing. Seems obvious I know, and I agree it surely can't be the whole reason, but it does seem like it's a part of it...a big part of it.

I recall a few articles I read not too long ago that talked about how video game developers are trying to figure out creative ways to "inspire" gamers to finish games (I have some ideas how to fix that too). You can read one of them here if you're interested but I'll summarize it. Initiatives like achievements and shorter games could help get gamers to finish the game, but what you don't usually read is...

Quit releasing so many games so often!

Of course there are too many developers and publishers vying for your dollars and this suggestion isn't as simple as not releasing games so often, but really I think that will be a necessary step if developers truly want gamers to finish their games more frequently. It'll never happen of course, and the numbers will hover around where they are (or get worse) but hey...as long as they're making money and we're having fun, does it really matter?

Maybe...I guess that depends if you're one of the ones who finishes the game or not.