Finishing games

One of my main gripes with enjoying the gaming medium as a mechanism for storytelling is the ability to finish them in the first place. It’s something I’ve always had. Some games absolutely grip you and suck you in. Many games keep you up all night. Some don’t, but still have strong mechanics, characters or story worth sticking with.

I find the easiest parallel here is books. Sometimes a book isn’t quite written well, but the characters or story keeps you in there. When it all comes together, you’ll commute anywhere with that book in your hand to try to sneak a few pages in at any given opportunity.

But unlike books, games rarely tell you how long is left. Sure, you can check a percentage counter but that mostly includes an average pace of gaming ability, as well as all of the side missions and stuff the game might have available, like collecting items, etc. etc.

As I’ve gotten older and had a busy career and later a family, I have finite time to play games. Ones that offer a quick-hit are easiest, and that skews towards sports games or quick FPS sessions. But long-winded story-driven stuff is difficult. And it’s much more difficult when I can’t really tell when a chapter, sequence or even the full title will free me to get to my next task.

A good example is Horizon: Forbidden West. An astounding good game that captured me. But I’ve pumped a lot of hours into it, but now, my youngest son is 9 months old. He’s more alert, demanding and while he’s good fun, he’s hardly going to sit there as I figure out how to clear a sequence in the game. And although I’m pretty sure I’m nearly done with the main questline, I can’t actually tell. Sure, I can look up some IGN walkthrough and play a guessing game with time. But that’s nowhere near as convenient as seeing that I’m on page 200 of a 300 page book. A book that likely will provide the same, or similar, pacing throughout. Games have different progression stages, with their own difficulty tiers associated.

So, my issue with completing games is likely to be a bigger burden as time goes on. I’ve waxed lyrical about the Steam Deck already, but that’s allowed me to beg, borrow and steal time to sneak some game time in here and there. While the PC or PS5 tend to consume more time, even just in boot sequence. Deck is the only way I can realistically buy a new title and commit reasonable time to play it.

That said, as my kids get older, go to school and have their own friends & lives outside of my wife & I, I can see myself revisiting titles that are modern today, but will be considered classics in a few years.