Bad Gaming Habits

Alex Phillimore Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-11-09 05:25:42

Bad Gaming Habits

I have a bad habit.

Quite often, I don't bother to finish video games. It's odd, because I generally only play games I have researched beforehand, and thus I rarely play something so abysmally bad that it would cause me to put it down prematurely. But even when I'm playing games that score highly - Grand Theft Auto 5; Tales of Xillia - I quite often find myself losing my way with them in the latter half of the game, to the point that I simply stop playing.

In RPGs, I think I know why this happens. I had a good time playing Ni No Kuni, but I became obsessed after receiving the ability to fly with going back and revisiting old locations in order to complete sidequests, so that I didn't miss anything. I spent hours training new creatures up and searching the overworld for treasures. As I sunk so much time into sidequests, however, I became disinterested in pursuing the main game - after a week of extracurricular activities I completely forgot what was happening or where I was meant to go in order to complete the main quest, and shortly after stopped playing altogether.

I find that this pattern emerges in Final Fantasy games above all else. I've played just about every main-title Final Fantasy game, and yet I've only ever completed I and then some spin-offs, such as Tactics Advance (but not Tactics Advance 2). It's not that I dislike the games - I usually get quite far into them (in VIII I got just beyond the space sections and then stopped; in X I got to the save point before the final battle but for some reason never bothered to even attempt it; in XII I got to Arcadia) but I just find that, more often than not, something happens to make me lose steam with them. Perhaps other games come out that occupy my attention, or I get engrossed in a game like Skyrim that can't ever really be completed. Sometimes I just lose the will to turn them on altogether.

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This has happened with alarming frequency over the last few years. I neglected Skyward Sword after I got to the Ghost Ship; I got to Blackwater in Red Dead Redemption and then stuck to the multiplayer thereafter; in Xenoblade Chronicles I got to the jungle environment and then, for some reason, stopped playing. I have completed some truly stellar games, such as the Mario Galaxy titles or Fire Emblem: Awakening, although generally I only seem to complete longer titles nowadays with about a 30% success rate.

Instead, the games that I really seem to enjoy playing at the moment are games that I can complete within a day or over a weekend. I played the magnificent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons over a one-day or two-day period. The same applied to Rain and episodic games like The Wolf Among Us. I like games that I can enjoy within a few hours that don't require a huge commitment. One of the reason a game like Hotline Miami appeals to me is that you can complete the whole game in a single day after you get good at it - levels can only take a couple of minutes, or they can take an hour, depending on how well you're playing.

In a sense, I'm sort of arguing that I prefer games to be shorter rather than longer at the moment, which seems almost counter-productive. No one wants to spend sixty bucks on a game that takes only five or six hours to complete - it's not particularly good value. Similarly, when you buy a game like Skyrim that realistically expects you to put 100+ hours into it, the developers should be lauded for doing such a magnificent job of creating these vast worlds. From my perspective, I would never complain that a game is too long, and I do encourage developers to continue making longer games. I just can't guarantee that I'll personally have the motivation to complete them. My short attention span will undoubtedly be my downfall.

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