Maybe I’m getting a little older and wiser in my game playing years but I’m really starting to notice that the drive to finish every game I play is not as big a deal for me anymore. Getting into PC gaming from a young age did expose me to a lot of games that needed to keep me occupied over many hours (I’m looking at you, Star Raiders!) but it wasn’t until I returned to consoles with the original Xbox that I got into a mindset of having to finish everything possible. I still remember getting my hands on Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and finishing it in a week so that I could move onto the next game purchase. Looking back at it now and I can see that kind of approach to gaming is not sustainable for anyone in the long term! It also does an injustice to a game that was actually pretty good and deserved more time spent on it.
Xbox Achievements from the 360 era added their own spin by providing additional ways to “complete” the games you played beyond just finishing a campaign. Some of them kept it simple; Call of Duty 2‘s were all tied to completing each mission of the campaign. Others required a grind that just felt obscene; at least that was how I felt when trying to chase any multiplayer achievements in Perfect Dark Zero. By the time the Xbox One had arrived my completion oriented ambitions had become more subdued as I played a mix of games from my libraries thanks to backward compatibility. The PC has started to get a bit more of my time again too thanks to an ever increasing number of titles from various storefronts and in most of those I’m not sure people care a whole lot about achievements either thankfully.
Even though I’ve become more selective in my games purchases it hasn’t reduced the opportunities available to play anything new. The biggest change for me I think has definitely been Xbox Game Pass. Now that regular game demo/trials died with the 360 and Xbox Live Arcade having access to an extended library has meant that I’m now looking into games again that I wouldn’t normally have purchased. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is a great example of that – 2D platformers weren’t usually games that I gravitated to anymore but it’s a great game that was on Game Pass (at the time) and I’ve now got a couple of games in the genre in my regular rotation. Two other games where it’s worked really well for me are State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves.
I wasn’t won over by State of Decay on the 360, probably because I needed to spend more time with it, but there was issue in being able to download the sequel and check it out. That it now supports co-op where players can help another player’s community made it really easy to join in and experience a good part of the game without having to go through and complete it myself. I think I may have spent more hours playing in other communities than I have in my own! A similar attitude has come from my time in Sea of Thieves. Though the game has been steadily rolling out content that gives players a variety of objectives I’ve rarely been chasing them for myself. Instead I’m happily taking the wheel of a ship and going for a cruise around the ocean or better yet joining a game with friends and tagging along on their quests. It’s also a game that still rewards players regardless of how much you play… you don’t need to play for hours on end just to get a cool hat for your pirate.
I’m not saying I’m having a complete change of attitude in how I play my games… I did just blast through the Gears 5 campaign in a short space of time… but not every game in my library needs to have that kind of effort anymore and I’m happy with that. 🙂
I’m actually the opposite these days. I finish more games now than I ever did about… ooh, a decade or so ago, I guess? A lot of this is to do with writing about them — when writing about narratives, for example, I refuse to do so without having seen the whole thing — but I also just derive great satisfaction from beating a game and seeing everything the creators poured into it.
The reason I don’t sign up to any of these subscription services is I know I’d just be hit with analysis paralysis and be overwhelmed with choices, or end up dipping into 20 things and never getting anywhere with any of them. Instead, these days I buy games that I *know* I’m going to play and probably write about someday — even if that’s not immediately. (I’ll typically pick up stuff I know will be difficult to obtain a little down the line, even if I have no intention of playing them any time soon.) But when I do eventually come to them, I am going to play them through to completion.
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I wish I had the talent to dive into the narrative side of games. What I see from people such as yourself and Red Metal just amazes me and the commitment to play through them even more so. Maybe I just need to find the right game to return to the light…
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If it’s something that interests you, you don’t have to make a big deal or be academic about. Some of the most interesting writing about narrative content is just sharing your own personal response to something — what it reminded you of, what it made you think about, whether you found it a motivator to get through the game. 🙂
But yeah. Finding the right game helps! Maybe see if there’s a short and sweet narrative-centric indie that captures your attention?
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