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Starting to Lose Patience with Long Video Games

I’ve noticed over the years that long video games are really starting to wear on me. It used to be where I could invest countless hours in one game but now it seems like I just don’t have the patience for it. My ability to endure through does seem to depend on the genre, though, with RPGs, Simulation and Strategy games usually causing less burnout. Even then I can’t max out the clock in games like I used to be able to in FFVII and FFIX.

Take Bravely Default for example. I’m about 40 hours in and on chapter 4. From what I hear there are at least 8 chapters and the mere thought of that gives me a headache. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the game but I am starting to wish it would end soon. Yet to make matters more confusing I can invest 90+ hours into something like Persona 4 Golden and still wish there was more after it. Most people might set it aside and just come back to it later, but I fear that if I did that then I might not get back to it for a very long time. By then I’d have most likely forgotten what was going on in the game and either forget playing altogether or start over and let the cycle repeat.

The kind of games that I seem to enjoy the most are the ones where I can quickly get in and get out without having to invest long periods of time. This is probably one of the leading reasons why my interests in MMORPGs has been in decline over the years; I just don’t want to invest the same amount of time in them as Keen does. Whether this lack of interest is due to the games themselves or my growing inability to stay focused on one thing for long, I don’t honestly know.

On the flip-side there are some really short games. The new Metal Gear Solid prologue game is due out sometime in March and it seems to be getting a lot of negative reactions because it is supposedly only 2-4 hours long. The idea of paying #20-$40 bucks for a game that short immediately doesn’t sit well with me, but I can’t help but wonder if it just might be what I’m looking for in a game.

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  1. Agree with you 100% on this. It’s so rare i finish a game. It becomes so samey after a while that the only reason you push yourself to finish is to just say i finished and i didn’t waste my money. This is why if i actually finish a decently long single player i recommend it because it’s so rare for me to do so. It is also why i like playing dota2 type games. Jump in play 30mins- 60mins match and done if I want to.

  2. I can definitely relate, I went through years of MMO playing, and then dropped them completely, for a few years now. However, the itch does come back, and I have been wanting to play some of the newer titles or newer expansions for the older games. I don’t know how long my interest will last though. On the flip side, shorter games are awesome if they’re good, but most of the time when they are too short the money invested doesn’t seem worth it. I too spent countless hours on single player experiences that I didn’t want to end, and other equally good games I can’t muster the interest to finish. Perfect example: I played over a hundred hours in Skyrim, and am still playing it. I’ve played about 15 hours in Ni No Kuni, and can’t find the urge to play it, but I would say both are great RPGs.

    It seems our moods become more fickle with more options presented to us.

  3. It’s the aging process. In my mid-50s I can’t even summon up the willpower to watch a two-hour movie any more.

  4. Have Bravely Default on the way to me in the mail. Hopefully I will not get burnt out on it too fast.

  5. I don’t know if Graev burns out as much as he just enjoys that feeling when he completes a game. The long ones are hard to ‘complete’. He might disagree, but that’s what I’ve observed.

  6. Yeah, I too find it bothersome to get to the end of the game. You get so excited to finish, yet half way through you just kinda want to move on to the next one. I think games should just be enjoyed, and the mission is secondary to the fun.

  7. I’ve found in my case, I’m drawn to novelty rather than mastery.

    While I’m sinking 300 hours into one game, I could be spending 1 hour playing 300 different games…

    I’d argue that after some point, most games really have nothing more to show you.
    The next 100 hours in WoW aren’t likely to be drastically different to the 100 that proceeded it.

    I’d rather spend my time learning and experiencing new systems, stories and ideas :)

    Each to their own.

  8. I think for me the closest I can come to relating is in single-player games. Take Assassin’s Creed for example. I do not need to do every side missions, every assassination contract, or collect every data fragment. I play the story, do what extras cross my path, and move on. I feel like I get a completely full experience rounded out around 25 hours. Had I stuck it out and gone for 100%, I would have logged closer to 35 and probably ended up burning out.

  9. I don’t relate to this idea as a general concept. The specific instances where it may pertain are when I am not into a game, but want to find out if it improves over time, and RTS games where the maps are so large that invariably units are getting slaughtered at distant sites before I can attend to them.

    With STEAM sales I no longer feel guilty uninstalling a game prior to “completion”, as I almost always have gotten my money’s worth in play time.

    Now if it is a cool game, but I need a break, I do just that, like concurrently reading multiple books, choosing whatever suits my mood and energy level.

    If it was a shorter game and you really liked it wouldn’t you be excited about the next release of content, like the Walking Dead series? How is this different from just self-monitoring your play schedule into shorter multiple sessions?

    Is there really such a thing as too much delicious chocolate cake?


  10. sounds to me like the games are simply not good enough to keep you interested.
    Bland story and same-y mechanics perchance

  11. Electrolux says:

    I know the feeling. Then I played Disgaea for 400 hours. It was ridiculous.

    It’s mostly just having seen it all before I think. Now very little is new to me only the execution remains to impress. I can start up a game and imagine exactly what would happen if I played it to the end and be more or less right. I also know I’ve beaten a game long before I’ve actually done the beating these days.

    From time to time though something comes along that steals 400 hours from me and I don’t even notice.

  12. My problem is that there are so few games I really love. Bravely Default is one of those rare games. I’m guessing I’m around the same amount of time in (just finished the fire area and I’ve done some grinding). There’s a good chance I’ll do a NG+ playthrough if the game offers it. Then I’ll ignore my hundreds of games in my backlog and wait for South Park and Dark Souls II.

    Meanwhile on the MMORPG front, things are a little different. Over the past 15 years they have gone from complex and engrossing to “accessible” in order to attract more paying customers. If things ever went back in the other direction, I’m positive I’d be back with characters having months /played.

  13. I really enjoyed this insight…

    I’m convinced that the downturn of 2008 simply took much of our free time away from us.

    7-8 TRILLION dollars were vacuumed out of the global economy. That means for us working stiffs much less time for games.

    There’s a social psychology thesis in Graev’s post, I’m convinced of it.

  14. I’ve been in the same boat for years. This is why I tend to enjoy games like Dust: An Elysian Tale, Shadow Complex, Bastion, etc.. Yes I’m getting older (almost 30) and while I still play longer games like Ni No Kuni and such, I don’t find myself wanting to spend that much time in the same game very often.

    As an example, I got into Dragon’s Dogma a few months ago when it was on PS+. I put about 25 hours into it and was really enjoying myself until I had to leave for a few days. I watched a few videos to get back into it, but then I started doubting… I don’t really like the pawn system (upgrading all the time) and all the time spent traveling, and this and that and that. If I knew I was near the end, I would finish it, but now it just seems so daunting when I have lots of other, shorter options.