Dedicating myself to one game is something that used to happen a lot as a young boy. It started with Elite, a game made to get lost in through it’s near infinite universe to explore in an endless trek for profit and glory. But even games without such expansive a game world could hold my attention for weeks and months on end. I recall a time even, when at university in the early 1990s, playing nothing but the demo of Settlers over and over for weeks.
Of course a lot of this was probably born out of necessity, there were just less games around then. Couple that with the meager funds of a school goer or student and it made sense to ensure I was getting the most out of a game. But I don’t ever recall it feeling like that, it always felt far more like it came from a desire to immerse myself so completely in an experience, to live the game even if actually completing it back then was far from the norm.
But not so in recent years, flitting from game to game has become the standard, a couple of hours one night speeding around the hillsides of far away lands, the next I’m strapped into Lycra and beating up criminals. In fact, ignoring my years involved with World of Warcraft, I’ve probably not played the same game every night for a week in quite some time. There are advantages to this of course, I get to see far more game styles, and I also get to be involved in discussions of the latest games as I can bang a few hours into a new release and then jump on Twitter to take part in the days hot topic. I also have a house full with a cornucopia of games I could fire up at a moments notice as the whim take me. But I can’t help feeling I’m missing out on one of the best aspects of gaming, the aspect which is not shared by other mediums, the ability to actively partake in another life. And I don’t think you can get that from a few hours of play now and again, I believe it can only come from committing oneself to a given game for the long haul. Now not all games are suited to such an undertaking, some are designed from the get go as quick blasts to break the stress or monotony of the day, but plenty of games are open to it.
Recently my wife and I have found ourselves returning to a more immersive play style, dedicating ourselves to long hours of play in only a couple of games. I spoke a couple of posts back of our return to Red Dead Redemption, and another game has been ongoing for us since launch. Helped by a good supply of DLC, but mainly by willing friends joining us for Horde or more recently King of the Hill verses AI, Gears 3 has been fore-filling this role for months now.
Perhaps many would think Gears too shallow a game to allow for such long term play, and perhaps as a solo venture it would be. But working with others towards the various goals of achieving ribbons and medals, ensuring one person gets the most revives whilst another spends the most time in cover is actually a very rewarding experience. Bonding with our fellow players and perfecting our team dynamic over countless situations, working towards our own self set goals provides more than enough fun to keep us coming back night after night.
I’ve found my desire to play new games all the time has been waning, replaced by a wish to get the most out of each game in our existing collection which allows for this extended cooperative play.
In many ways it feels like a return to the feelings which got me involved in this whole entertainment form in the first place.