Time and Video Games

I’m finding that as I get older, I have less and less time for games. When I was younger, I could spend an entire Saturday morning playing Mega Man 2 or whatever the flavor of the month was. Now, it seems that I can only spare an hour here and there when I’m lucky. I guess this (losing time) is growing up, and it seems that games are growing up with me.

I’ve noticed a somewhat interesting trend in gaming over the years. It seems that as my available time for games decreases, the time investment for a game is also diminishing. During the eras of the NES through the PS1, it seemed rather reasonable to expect an investment of around 20 hours to complete a game. During the Xbox and PS2 generation, I noticed that many AAA titles only yielded approximately 10-15 hours of gameplay. Some examples may include Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Halo, God of War, Call of Duty, and many others. Finding a game that offered many hours of entertainment seemed like a rarity, and when found, was a prized title — Think GTA, KOTOR, Final Fantasy, and others.

In our current generation of gaming, the prices are higher, but the yield is lower. Many new titles that I have played were shorter than 10 hours. For example, I bought Call of Duty: MW2 when it was released (like everyone else). I opened the game that following Saturday morning and finished the single player campaign before lunch — it lasted all of 5 hours. In my opinion, it was not worth the hype or my $60… Multi-player was only fun for about another weekend before I packed it in a box and sent it off to Amazon for a straight trade for Assassin’s Creed 2 (a much more enjoyable single player experience). The shrinking single player experience is even shortening from sequel to sequel. I finished Mass Effect 1 from beginning to end, completing a majority of side missions, in roughly 32 hours (ahh, the joy of seeing your play time tracked in your game saves). Mass Effect 2 only took 23 hours, again I completed many side missions and explored all the planets.

I just find it fascinating that the less time I have for video games, it seems the less time they have for me.