Monday, August 18, 2014

Random Thoughts: Short Games

You've all seen it--or posted it.  A glowing recommendation for some title that ends with something like "and, it's got over 40 hours of gameplay!"  A kicker intended to seal the deal and sell the game.  You've also seen--or posted--the complaints: "Only 3 hours?  That's not worth $5!"  Length tends to be thrown around as an objective quantity: provided the experience is varied and doesn't sink into repetition, longer is always better.  Right?

I certainly thought so back when I was a Freshman in college, but my opinion has changed over the last couple years.  Basically, I have a bunch of games.  And I have not finished the majority of them.  I know my backlog is comparatively small, and I have at least 100 titles in it.  And most of the games I start, I never finish.

Even with my relatively free work schedule and potentially concerning lack of social obligations (read: I have no friends because artistic type that's why), I don't have the time or desire to spend 20 or 30 hours on every title I purchase.  Or the attention, for that matter.  The days of being forced to savor each and every gaming experience are gone.  Steam sales and Humble Bundles have ensured that I always have some new game to occupy me when the current one gets boring.  For me (and I suspect for a lot of people), the price/time ratio of any given purchase is actually irrelevant, since the time I'm actually going to spend on a given game is anyone's guess.

In recent months, I've actually found making purchasing/playing decisions in favor of shorter games.  Yes, that's right.  I've opted to purchase games just because they are short, and turned down games that I feel are too long.  Why?  Because I'm getting tired of clogging my Steam library with half-finished games and my gaming memory with half-finished experiences.  It may sound insane to some people, but at this point in my life I'd probably sooner shell out $5 for a 1-2 hour experience than a 10-20 hour one.

I think there are others out there who feel similar, and I think there's a market for short, memorable experiences that don't require a big time commitment to fully experience