Hi, again! Dustin here. Thanks for dropping by my little arcade blog. Today, as the above title so succinctly suggests, I’d like to discuss why short video games have become increasingly important to me as my life becomes increasingly busy.
But first, how’s about some context? Between classes and homework, my writing gigs at WKMS and RePlay Magazine, and hanging out with pals, I don’t always have a ton of time to write about video games, let alone play them. (My priorities are skewed, yes.) I’ve reached the point where I fill most of my free time by listening to music, watching television, and reading Archie Digests, because those activities are so much less time intensive.
However, when I do have some time set aside for video games, I find myself gravitating to shorter fare. Most recently, I’ve played Cruis’n USA, Crazy Taxi, Time Crisis 3, and Tekken 4, all titles that can picked up and put down with considerable ease. Completing campaigns of 10 hours or more—like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game or Medal of Honor: Frontline—seems to be something of a rarity for me these days.
For whatever reason, I feel very real sense of apathy toward completing anything that requires too much investment on my part, a fact made all too evident by my languishing backlog. I’ve owned The Legend of Kay: Anniversary Edition, Avatar: The Last Airbender, X-Men Legends, Super Mario 3D All-Stars, and others for months on end and have yet to complete a single one. Booting them up may as well be a chore at this point.
Shorter games, on the other hand, still fill me with delight. As I alluded earlier, I’ve played the absolute heck out of Crazy Taxi in pursuit of higher scores. I completed Aliens Armageddon once and Cruis’n USA three times over the summer. Essentially, if I can experience the riveting highs and lows of gaming in the space of an hour or less, I don’t feel so weighed down by the notion. The time imposition is far less…well, imposing.
Funnily enough, I find my current approach to gaming very similar to how I consume music. My CD collection is only as strong as it is because I value the album format so highly. I absolutely adore popping a disc in my CD Walkman, burning through it from beginning to end, and moving onto the next. Listening to music is such a passive, noncommittal activity that I neither feel overly exerted nor robbed of my time by the end.
A good arcade game—or really any short game—feels much the same way. I get exactly what I want in brief yet impactful package. With such a busy life, that’s all for which I can ask. (It certainly doesn’t help that I’m a workaholic.)
That being said, I don’t foresee long-form gaming permanently becoming a chore. There are too many fantastic games out there for me to limit myself to the shortest among them. In fact, I’ve already dipped my toes back into longer games. At the time of this writing, I’ve fully committed to completing X-Men Legends, Fantastic Four, and Garfield: Lasagna World Tour. I’m hoping I’ll address the remainder of my backlog after completing those.
So yeah, that’s my perspective on game length now that my schedule is so bonkers all the time. I have a strong feeling many working adults will strongly relate to what I’ve written. It’s a sad reality of our material world.