The Merits of Shorter Play Sessions

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In the past, one of the things that I’d always look out for when purchasing a game was the amount of playtime I would get out of it. The thinking went that more play time is always better than less, just in value for money terms if nothing else. The older I have got though, the more I have begun to appreciate the value of shorter games. I mean sure, I love my 100 hour plus RPGs as much as the next person, but recently I’ve developed a real appreciation for the smaller, more self contained experiences that shorter games can offer.

Gone Home is a perfect example of this. The entire thing can be finished in around 2 to 4 hours, but because of that it can comfortably be played in one sittings, which I find adds to the overall experience. I’m able to drink in all the details and progress whilst all of it is still fresh in my mind. This helps me feel more immersed in the game, and thus more driven to seek the conclusion of the story. Knowing I can complete something on a Sunday afternoon is a nice feeling, and whilst longer games make up the bulk of my playtime, having these little stories to romp through in a few hours is a nice addition to my stable of games.

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I guess the same can be said of games which work well with short play sessions. Although I don’t play tons of them, this can be a plus point to a lot of rogue-like games like FTL or Rogue Legacy. Jumping on for a short, fifteen minutes to an hour session, can be really rewarding. I’d also extend this to MMOs to some extent. Whilst in The Secret World I generally prefer to play for longer spells, to really drink in the details, mood, and atmosphere, I do sometimes log in just to do a 20 minute mission. But, whilst these games can be played in short bursts, it’s not quite the same as a completely self contained narrative experience that begins and ends in one play session.

It’s not so much a matter of time constraints that makes me appreciate shorter games, it really is the appeal of a short but rounded experience that has begun to draw me to them. I still largely play games which demand a more significant time investment, because I think that often has to be the case for there to be a lot of depth to the game, but it’s nice to be getting a bit more variety in what I’m playing. Plus, it’s nice to actually finish some bloody games for once!

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2 thoughts on “The Merits of Shorter Play Sessions

  1. There’s definitely a place for shorter experiences. After all you if you can have a great experiences in a 90 minute movie or a short story you can read in 20 minutes, why not in a game?

    Sure it’s not the same experience as a TV series that runs to seven seasons or a book trilogy, but it’s still an excellent format in its own right.

    I play a fair amount of blitz chess, and at its best it’s an epic adventure in under 10 minutes. Beginning, middle, end, reversals of fortune, fightbacks, surprise twists, stunning finale, the whole lot.! Admittedly that’s on the back of years of experience of the game, but you get the picture.

    Like

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