Game Length and Adulthood

A few months ago, I picked up Okami for the Wii. I heard a lot of great things about the game and was looking forward to playing it. I played it for a bit, but not really enough to get a feel for the game. Before I could even give the game a fair shake, I traded it away.

Why? For one, I heard that EBGames was giving out extra credit on this game. Second (and more more importantly), I heard the game was roughly 40 hours long. In my younger days, that meant I could expect good times for a long time to come. As an adult with responsibilities, playing through a 40-hour game is a tough thought to swallow.

As a youngster, it wasn’t hard to pour in dozens of hours to beat a game with a long story. After school or on weekends, I would have large chunks of time to play something epic like The Ocarina of Time. Nowadays, I don’t regularly get large chunks of time to play games, because I have to do adult things, such as work a job and be a good boyfriend.

Because my gaming schedule can be so erratic, I shy away from games with long campaigns and stories. When you play something as dense as say, Final Fantasy XIII, which will take you over 50 hours to complete, it’s hard to feel like you’ve accomplished anything if you can only play it in 15-30 minute spurts. For games that take a few hours before they get good, that could mean I’ll be playing a game for weeks before it picks up for me. I generally don’t have the time or the patience to play a long game that doesn’t immediately satisfy me in some form or another.

Over the last few years, my tastes have shifted towards shorter and more compact game experiences. For a game with a campaign, something like Batman: Arkham Asylum felt right for me. It’s a game that my younger self would have powered through in two nights, but because I was playing it in shorter spurts, it lasted about as long as I wanted to play it. The two games I have played the most this console generation, Rock Band and Street Fighter IV, also fit into this category. While I have easily put in hundreds of hours into both, those hours have accumulated mostly through short play sessions. It’s easy to play a game like Rock Band and feel like you’ve accomplished something in 5 or 10 minutes and walk away till next time. One of my favourite iPhone games is Drop 7, because I can have a satisfying gaming experience in just 60 seconds.

The only long games I’ve really powered through over the last few years are the Mass Effect series. However, I beat those under different adulthood circumstances. I was very much unemployed at the time, and I had time to spare. There were days where I would wake up, play Mass Effect 2 all day, only stopping to eat and use the bathroom, then go to sleep. As a gamer, those days were awesome. As an adult, I felt horrible, knowing that sitting in my pajamas and saving the galaxy wasn’t going to pay my bills or get me anywhere in life.

Do I have the attention span of a goldfish? I’m guessing my girlfriend would tell you that I do, and I would tend to agree. In spite of this, it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t play games like I used to. Long games freak me out because I don’t have the time or the patience to dedicate to them. As I get older and have my own family and children, I’m sure that I’ll be even more adverse to playing long video games.

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