Games For Short Attention Spans

by Kyle Hilliard on Nov 30, 2011 at 01:55 PM

I have to keep my sentences short. These are games that appeal to gamers with short attention spans. This list could also appeal to narcoleptic people or those with the Memento disease where you can’t create new memories. Are you already bored? Here’s the list.

Games in your pocket

Jetpack Joyride
– When Jetpack Joyride came out, it became an unhealthy obsession for many of the editors here at Game Informer. I recall asking Ben Hanson one Monday, what he did over the weekend, and he replied simply, “played Jetpack Joyride.” He Played Jetpack Joyride the whole weekend. That said, the beauty of the game is that you don’t have to spend a whole weekend playing it. The average game only lasts for a minute or two. It loads quickly, rewards the player constantly with money and achievements, and you can accomplish something before you get distracted by that shiny thing over there.

Cut the Rope – For the short attention span gamer who finds the intensity of Jetpack Joyride intimidating, there is always Cut the Rope. Levels are short and as sweet as the candy you are trying to feed to the cute little animal thingy. It’s a puzzle game pushes your brain, but rarely to the point of frustration. You can knock out a few puzzles in a few minutes and move on.

Peggle – Peggle is a game that is available on many platforms, but it is best experienced on a hand-held. It’s incredibly simple to play, with each sound effect and musical cue inspiring glee and satisfaction as marbles bounce around and gain points. Every level ends in a fantastic fireworks display, and it only takes a few minutes to get there. It’s also very colorful and shiny.

Bejeweled – Perhaps the ultimate short attention span game -- or at least the first. Some form of Bejeweled is available on just about any system, and it’s immediately understandable, and hopelessly addicting. It’s appealing to just about everyone, gamer and non-gamer alike.

Super Mario 3D Land – The latest addition to the core Mario game family shares many of the traits of its Galaxy brother. It’s also pretty easy to beat which is handy for gamers interested in moving on to the next thing as quickly as possible. If you want to keep going after beating Bowser though, you’re are more than welcome, but that sounds suspiciously close to a healthy attention span. What are you doing reading this list?

– This series of bizarre micro-game collections is custom-designed for the gamer who can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds. Every one of the hundreds of micro-games that have appeared across the six WarioWare releases lasts a few seconds max, and they are rarely predictable or normal. Most of the games inspire a "what was that?" reaction, but you don’t have time to think about it. By the time you've figured out how to play the game, you’ve moved onto the next one.

Scribblenauts – Write down just about anything you can think of, and it will appear in front of you. Many gamers don’t even make it past the start screen, writing non-stop to see just how much the game's vocabulary contains. It’s hard to get bored when you can summon anything.

Angry Birds – Scientists are hard at work trying to figure out what it is that makes Angry Birds so universally appealing. It’s a good game, but what is it about those upset birds and immobile pigs sitting in structurally questionable buildings that has led to a billion-plus downloads? It’s perfect for those lacking the gift of long-term concentration. Pick it up, knock down some buildings, flush the toilet, and you’re back to regular life.

Games on your TV

Katamari – Katamari isn't really a game you can play in short spurts. Later levels sometimes require 20 to 30 minutes of ball rolling to complete. The reason this game is appealing is because there is so much color, and so much stuff everywhere. I once played the game while someone watched excitedly, shouting each and every item I picked up. That was enough to entertain them. They didn’t even need to have the controller in their hand. The music is also pretty spectacular and all over the place.

Super Meat Boy – It’s definitely not for the easily angered and does admittedly require some patience, but Super Meat Boy is perfect for quick sessions. The majority of the levels are super short, and moving onto the next level takes no time at all. The game moves so fast that you don’t mind dying repeatedly. The music is infinitely memorable too, which certainly helps keep your attention.

Mr. or Ms. 'Splosion Man – Either of the ‘Splosion games are suitable for inclusion here. The ‘Splosion folks themselves are insane creatures with short attention spans, seemingly unable to stand still. Levels move along quickly, and you are constantly exploding yourself to navigate the levels, which never seems to get old, even after two games.

Call of Duty – Whether you’re into the single player or the multiplayer experience, Call of Duty offers gameplay that will appeal to anyone who gets distracted by shiny objects. The single player is a series of giant explosions and (often literal) train wrecks that demand your attention, and you never have to get lost or explore. Just follow the guy in front of you and shoot anything that moves until the next crazy thing happens. On the multiplayer front, games are quick and rewarding, and the scenery is changing every round.

Super Mario Galaxies
– Mario has always been a friend to the short attention span gamer with its memorable music and simple yet utterly fantastic gameplay. Both of the Mario Galaxies exemplify this by offering tons of levels that can be beaten in a few minutes and the option to leave and check out new areas pretty quickly. You’re never locked in one are before you can move onto the next, which is great when you get easily bored.

Geometry Wars – Geometry Wars has made appearances on many consoles, both handheld and big screen, but the best version still exists on its original home, the Xbox 360. There are lots of pretty colors and lights, tons of explosions, and you can knock a good game out in well under an hour.

Saint's Row: The Third – Grand Theft Auto is pretty well suited to the gamer with a short attention span, but Saint’s Row: The Third takes it a couple hundred steps further. The city is your playground, and you can do whatever you want, and the tools available to you are absurd and destructive. There is a story in the game, but who cares about that when you can shoot explosive electric bullets from a handgun?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
– Hear me out on this one. Skyrim is a huge RPG with a wide range of goals that require a hefty time investment. It can be very intimidating to the gamer with the short attention span. The reason it belongs here, though, is because you can just walk away from anything you’re doing at any time and get lost doing whatever you decide is worth your attention. You can get stronger, gain money, find amazing weapons -- all without ever pursuing the main story. It’s perfect for the easily distracted gamer.

Which ones did we forget? What are your favorite games that are as easy to pick up as they are to put down?