Length of Video Games – Does It Really Matter?

Apologies up front for those dissapointed I avoided the rather obvious joke I could have chosen for the title. It does, however, rather nicely sum up the topic for this post.

There seems to be a trend amongst gamers of criticising games for their length; normally for being too short, but occasionally, and bizarrely, for being too long (Resident Evil 6 was, among other things, blamed for this).

The main question I want to ask is, why?

Bang for Your Buck

Pick a game, any game. If you google it’s title and ‘is it worth it’ you’ll most likely get a slew of results by ‘discerning’ gamers asking if it’s worth the price of admission on the myriad forums of the interwebs. Many replies will cite the length and say things like ‘Don’t bother, I beat it in like, 6 hours. Totally not worth it’.

Amusingly, the most common time I’ve seen these questions crop up is during the likes of Steam’s sale events, when games are discounted heavily- sometimes 75% or more! ‘Is it worth £2.99 for this game?’ people ask in all sincerity. Even big review sites tend to take account of the length of the game in calculating their ‘final scores’.

I’ve always felt this is the wrong way to go about it, I think it’s much better to look at games as an experience. It’s not about the length of the journey, but how entertaining it is!

The Wood for the Trees

A short, but sweet game is, in my opinion, ‘worth’ just as much as a longer game – gamers tend put too much emphasis on quantity rather than quality.

I don’t understand the mentality of judging a game’s merit based on how many hours of your life it will consume. I’d much rather judge a game based on how captivating an experience it provides, even if the experience only lasts a short time.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

An interesting point- a large percentage of gamers will never finish games they play (in Bioware’s Mass Effect 2, only 50% of players completed the campaign).’

I fall into that category myself. I, like many other adult gamers have accumulated a backlog of games, partly played, where I drifted before finishing.

Free time is not something I have in abundance as I did in those halcyon days of my youth. I find myself recently more interested in shorter games that I actually have a chance of completing, rather than the sprawling giants I’ve enjoyed previously.

Of course, that’s not to say lots of game for your money is a bad thing. I racked up hundreds of hours in Oblivion (and spent a good deal of time in Skyrim too!) and I don’t even want to know how many hours I put into World of Warcraft!

Too Long, Didn’t Read

My point is to judge games as a whole; they’re worth more than the sum of their parts!

Hopefully with the way the gaming market is shifting recently, and with the rumblings of a  new console generation starting, we, as gamers, can collectively start to appreciate games on their true merits and not just on how many hours of screen staring they promise us.

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2 Responses to Length of Video Games – Does It Really Matter?

  1. I do actually agree with you. The length of the game is not really what’s important so long as you’re having fun (for example, pac man may be short but still a good way to wind down).
    BUT, I feel this is somewhat incorrect for a lot of modern games because I think it would be like watching Lord of the Rings if they had compressed the entire story in a 1hour movie.
    Is it still entertaining? Yes. But was it long enough to really develop characters, share ideas, allow me to immerse myself in the world? Unlikely

    So, although I do agree that it should not be a mathematical equation of ’30< hours + x/10 = Winner', but it should be was the length appropriate for THAT game.

    🙂 Well, those are my thoughts anyways.

    • Swiftpaw says:

      Well said! I think we should try to judge a game on whether it delivers an engaging experience, which I agree includes being able to build an immersive story in an appropriate time frame – final fantasy XIII, for example, took far too long to set up the story to the point that I lost interest before, I’ve heard at least, it really takes off!

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