Editorial: Finishing Up

Being a gamer today can be tough. A lot of us grew up playing video games most evenings after school, or at a friends house on the weekends. Skip ahead ten or fifteen years and our lives have grown more complicated. Between our jobs, family life and other issues thrown at us by adult life, our free time we have to game is considerably shorter. Not only do we have less time to play, we also have a wider selection of games to choose from. It is no wonder then that we often buy more games, but complete fewer of them.

One of the simplest reasons we complete games less frequently is because we become distracted by real life. The same generation that spent many hours on the early Sega and Nintendo consoles simply cannot afford to give up that sort of time any more. We would all like to devote one hundred plus hours to a new RPG that has been released, but realistically we have to go to work and earn the cash to pay our bills.

A better time when the days were longer and games had to last.
Child Gamers

The Entertainment Software Association recently decided to include mobile platforms in their data when analysing the average age of gamers. This brought the age down from thirty-seven last year to thirty. While under eighteens account for roughly a third of all gamers, the older generation still enjoy spending their free time on gaming. This translates into a large percentage of individuals who are able to earn their own income and are therefore capable of purchasing their own consoles and games.

Flashback briefly to a childhood in which we had to save up pocket money for months, or drop hints at Christmas and birthdays in the hope a family member would gift us a new game. These were the days when every ounce of fun had to be extracted before set a game aside as they were few and far between. Now return to the present day where games need to hook and reel us in. As soon as a game loses momentum, another one is just around the corner to take its place.

Most games today offer some form of achievements, DLC content and side missions that can affect the games ending. What starts out as a relatively short play through can wind up taking twice as long while trying to achieve one hundred percent of the game. MMOs have often been touted as a genre in which gamers can play for a short while and come back again later. The recent expansion for the behemoth that is World of Warcraft practically demands constant attention if players want to be at all competitive.

The rewards of currency used to buy gear has been toned way down since Cataclysm. Instead of completing seven dungeons at the players leisure, the same amount of dungeons done daily will only just earn half the weekly cap. The rest is earned by guiding twenty-four screaming children through four bosses in Raid Finder, or completing almost one hundred daily quests over the course of the week. That is without doing extra quests to earn reputation for better gear.

Learning how to ‘break’ a game can be fun. Final Fantasy 6 has many oddities that can be exploited if they can be found. What is less fun is breaking a game by accident. Glitches can erase saved data or even corrupt a game entirely, destroying hours of work. Games often have day one patches to fix any issues found after they have been printed, but that does not help a player whose game is in an unplayable state.

Faulty machinery is the bane of many gamers.
Red Ring of Death

Faulty hardware can muck up a game experience also. This generation has been plagued with hardware faults from the beginning. The Red Ring/Yellow Light of Death are well known among gamers. It can take some time to replace a dying piece of hardware, and the time taken to do so can put a gamer off anything they were in the middle of when the fault occurred. The loss of save data that can accompany hardware faults does not help either.

The last reason a gamer would give up on a game is grinding. Not only can the actual task put off even a seasoned player, once the task is completed a game might not offer sufficient guidance to get a player back on track. Spending a few days away from the main story can lead to confusion as to what was happening, and may stop a player from coming back to the game again.

Have I forgotten any reason for finishing games? Have you ever given up on a game without completing it? Will you be breaking Final Fantasy 6 during our upcoming play through? Let me know in the comments!

9 comments

  1. I wrote about this a while back, but the issue I have is less with finishing games and more with starting them. For example, I just started playing Bioshock last week…after almost two weeks of telling myself I’d start playing it.

  2. I have many games on Steam that I’ve yet to start playing, a lesson I learned from the steam sales last year.

    I try to put a fair amount of effort into a game before putting it to one side, but I do usually try to return to it. I returned to Fallout 3 a year after I purchased it, eventually claiming every trophy (even DLC content).

  3. @Imitanis: Precisely why I’ve stopped buying games on Steam entirely. I have more than *fifty games* there which I’ve never played, or played for less than 10 minutes. So, no more Steam sales for me, ever.

  4. I have actually become better at finishing new games, recently. But I no longer replay my favourites with the fervor that I used to.

    I wrote about that specific situation ages ago (that I called Quinitialitis) and Lusipurr put it a way I hadn’t thought about.

    “So, essentially, what is the cause of Quinitialitis? Frankly, I think it is the amount of in-between bits in games, combined with foreknowledge and/or a desire to get to the ‘good bits’. The more space there is between the desired story elements or settings, the harder it is to replay. One will find oneself trying to hurry from A to D, because one knows B and C well enough and isn’t interested by them. If this happens a sufficient number of times in a game, it is likely to be set aside.”

    Even in new games, this is still applicable too. And “good bits” aren’t just story elements either. Sometimes a certain level or area is extremely fun and while others might compare later on, not everything is at that level.

  5. That’s a really good point. There are so many much loved games that effectively terminate my subsequent playthroughs through the parts that bog me down.

    I do sometimes wonder whether Squaresoft were making a fantastic meta-joke through the design and concept of FFX’s Calm Lands.

  6. I have always been the sort who has difficulty finishing games, and I found that the primary reason is that I tended to jump from game to game depending on my mood. I did frequently find that by the time I got back to a game, I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing and I would invariably start the game over again. I don’t know why I never approached gaming like I do reading (where I never start a book until I finish whatever I have been reading), though perhaps now would be the time to start that.

  7. I have the problem where I read books or play games depending on my mood. Some times that means games get sidelined in favour of reading. By the time I finish what I’m reading another game I want to play has been released.

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