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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Long Play

For no particular reason other than it's great, Heartbeat, Heartbreak'from the P4 OST!

You hear this from gamers in their twenties or older: they say, "I used to play [this genre/series] and I still really enjoy them, but they're too long, they take too much time, and I can't play them anymore."

And I definitely understand limited time and responsibilities and all that other crap that gets in the way of my fifth play-through of Chrono Trigger, but what I don't get is how any game can be too long to beat if you're still having fun with it. A game doesn't stop working if you can't beat it in two weeks. It doesn't explode if you don't put in two hours a day, every day. What keeps a player from picking up a game they haven't touched in a month, or two months, or a year, and continue what they were enjoying?

I'd like to assume that there's a miscommunication, that what the player is really trying to say is, "I got bored. The game isn't new, anymore, and I want to play something new."
And while I don't entirely empathize with that point of view, at least I understand it. And if this is the case, if the player just doesn't want to play the game anymore, because they're not having fun, then why do they feel the need to say, "I don't have enough time."?
Why not just say, "I don't enjoy playing those games, anymore."?

This topic has been eating at me, especially lately, because I've been involved in some very long plays. Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes? Just beat that, and I've been playing it off-and-on for over a year, now. Same with Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, which I haven't played in months, but might pick up again soon, and it'll probably take another year or so for me to beat. And then there's that piece of crap Grandia, which I guess you could say I started playing over fifteen years ago, although I haven't touched it in over a decade, and even now I'm only playing the game a few hours a week. Etrian Odyssey 2? About four months. That game was a bitch from beginning to end, but when I finished it, and that final boss went down? Bliss.

There's something very satisfying about putting a game on the back-burner and setting it to simmer. You're not pushing yourself towards victory. You're not looking to squeeze in an extra hour when you should be doing something else. Hell, another game could come along and you could play that, and then come right back; or just play them both.
And there's a rhythm to it, too. The game becomes part of your routine. You look forward to taking a bite of something familiar without gorging yourself.

So it's obvious that my perspective is skewed on this topic, I'm in a minority, but the question remains: What am I missing from the statement, "I don't have enough time."? Of course you don't have the same amount of free time that you did when you were twelve, but why limit yourself to the same scheduling habits if it's going to get in the way of something you enjoy?

This whole post was just an excuse for me to brag about beating Etrian Odyssey 2. Just wanted to come clean on that one.


  1. It's the same reason I stopped reading books as much. It's not that I don't have time to start a new book, but I may not have time to become emotionally invested in it. I used to love playing RPGs like Persona 4 or Grandia. But those, like books, require you become invested in the narrative and not so much the game mechanics. It's why, as I got older, I started enjoying games like Katamari Damacy instead of Final Fantasy and reading short stories anthologies instead of diving into a long fantasy series.

  2. Hmmm, I have completely different feelings about books. Also, some books are just plain way more fun to read than others. But anyway...

    The only game I would literally say "I don't have time to play" is Elder Scrolls (all of them), and it's not 'cause I don't want to. It's 'cause of the tales told to me by veterans of the months they spent on the game, and that apparently playing the game multiple times is a mandatory part of learning how the game works. That in particular bothers me, but even still, the reward-to-investment ratio is too low. Well, the next way I could say it instead of "I don't have time" is that it's "too intimidating".

    For many of the games I never finished, I'm aware of some of the complexities but not all of the limitations, and that can be simply intimidating. Or I'm aware of the intense concentration required to play the game properly, and I simply have too many unrelated priorities. Like paying my goddamn taxes. I guess it should be clarified that I really like games that are complex and/or difficult, yet these are the ones that cannot be played sporadically without more or less starting over (or not being able to remember everything you did already). Playing Elder Scrolls would be pointless to attempt sporadically 'cause I wouldn't remember where I was or anything, and playing it regularly such as once per week would be a regretful obligation since I know it would go on for a year...

    I guess you're right that a lot of games aren't worth playing since they're just clones of something from the 80s, or they're not really games, but these don't even cross my mind. There are plenty of offerings new and old that do interest me.

    Creating that community site is supposed to give me a big incentive to play a lot of these things because involving friends should make for a much greater incentive than all of these factors.

    You failed to acknowledge that one guy that shows up on forums, infrequently but regularly, who says, "I only like the older games." That seems related, doesn't it?

  3. Is it to brag about beating Etrian Odyssey 2 or is it to belittle me for never beating Persona 4? I disagree with your statement... See old RPGs like Persona 4 take alot of time. Right now I'm playing about 2-4 hours of video games a week. Bout two hours Friday and two hours Sunday if I'm lucky.

    So the amount of time between story would be close to a month? And although a fun game I want a bit of a story. Grinding away on mobs week after week isn't going to cut it with my schedule. And I figure that might be what someone means when they say they don't have time for a game.