By Darren Whitham (@dazwhitham) on 1st February 2015
So, in recent times, with the gaming blessed latter half of 2015 in particular, I have found that getting through the plentiful bevy of games before me has started to become a rather daunting task. Maybe it’s that I am just reeling from this recent influx of premium open world ‘Triple A’ titles.
As a gamer with a young son who requires my attention most of the time but who is not old enough for me to play certain games in front of, I have found that the jaws of time are increasingly snapping away at how long I can spend at my beloved hobby.
Maybe just experiencing a game could be enough, just play for as long as it takes to appreciate it and then, call it a day, move on, get on to the backlog… after all, they’re all fun games – and isn’t fun the whole point?
The situation gets further compounded by my gaming character, as I have a deeply ingrained belief that a great game must be completed. It’s kind of like – if it’s not worth finishing, was it worth buying? – at least, that’s how I have always felt. It’s just the gamer that I evolved into and this may stem from the gaming era I grew up in.
What I mean by that is that games have changed so much since my 80’s gaming youth with my Commodore 64 and Amiga 500. Back in the day, completing a game was in many cases a declaration of your skill that could be worn as a badge of honour within your gaming circles. Games were, in most cases, a lot harder and also shorter in length than now due, obviously, to the technical constraints of yesteryear. Some games were surely just made with the ridiculous difficulty of the day to perhaps simply disguise lack of length… I mean I’m talking games that could really, surely, have no other purpose than to deter the gamer (I’m looking at you The Last V8, Magic Carpet, Aztec Challenge – amongst many more!). Yeah, the old skool of gaming was certainly not so embracing, warm and beautiful as the games we have today that almost verge on ‘experiences’ as well as just mere games.
Time passed, games got prettier and more enjoyable to play. I offer that in the most part they got easier too, though in some cases this may just have been because at last the technology could offer the level of control that the imagination of the developer desired. I’m not saying it’s all easy street out there though, we have recently enjoyed the spate of the Demon’s Souls / Dark Souls games from From Software and of course there are many other challenging games out there, especially on the Indie scene (and here I gaze in the direction of the Spelunky’s, the Super Meatboy’s etc).
So, here we are in the present day. Spoiled for choice in a world of powerful consoles and ultra powerful PC’s. We still have challenge out there should we desire it and we also have the open worlds to dive into and get lost in. It’s a staggering and almost unprecedented choice of digital distraction we are presented with today, probably even exceeding my childhood hopes for where gaming would be at this time. Here in this amazing gaming utopia, I find myself almost the victim of my own wishes as games are now so large, expansive and time-consuming that it’s a challenge in itself making the time to get through the likes of Bloodborne, then on to The Witcher 3, over to Metal Gear Solid V and then to Fallout 4 etc and that is by no means an exhaustive list, I mean think of the time some players have put into Destiny. It would be easier if they weren’t all so enjoyable, fantastic games. Maybe it really is that I am just reeling from this recent influx of premium ‘Triple A’ titles.
In light of all this, it gave me reason to stop and think. A little moment to consider what it is I love about the games I play and could I fit more in to my ever depleting time window? Perhaps spending less time in the open worlds we are given these days would be a solution, maybe not striving to hit a personal best high score in Resogun or seeing the ending that has been so personally crafted by me in the Mass Effect Trilogy? Maybe just experiencing the game could be enough, just play for as long as it takes to appreciate it and then call it a day, move on, get onto the backlog… after all, they’re all fun and isn’t fun the whole point?
Well, it turns out that for me, I don’t think I can make that change, it’s just too radical for a gamer who has just been too assimilated into a competitive gaming culture from such a young age. A gamer that despite the years passing by, still gets that feeling of pride and a job well done when those credits roll.
It turns out then that for me, completing games and getting the most I can out of them is the only way. I’ll have to try to make more time, play in shorter sessions over longer or maybe even give the odd massive open world game that doesn’t quite reach my (rather high) personal benchmark a miss. I realise though, that not all gamers will have the same priorities and so I thought it would be interesting to put it out there and ask the question:
What is more important to you? Playing Games or Completing Games?