Are Videogames Too Long? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios

September 14, 2019

why are games so long? as a wonderful game show audience knows
playing games can take up an incredible amount of time like a lifetime I looked at the time it
would take me to complete some games I’ve been waiting to play on and the numbers not looking good
there’s forza horizon 2 at 10 to 15 hours and then there’s the GTA 5 hidef remake at like 30 to 40 hours that’s more of a chore because I finished it the first time but I love grand theft auto so i think I
can handle it and then I looked at Dragon Age inquisition which
is around forty to eighty hours and that just made me weep inside games are far
and away on average longer than any other medium on the planet
for example during the two hundred and seventy six hours that this tumblr user
spent playing call duty I could watch every movie on AFI
one hundred finish the works of tolstoy and listen to most of the major works of
twentieth century pop music and for single player campaigns they could be so
exhaustive that on average only ten to twenty percent of people ever finish them so this cold reality
had me thinking at what point do games just become too
long don’t get me wrong playing video games
is a wonderful way to spend your time but as a married man who host this show runs a video game arts and culture
company and wants to keep some semblance of a social life time is a precious beautiful commodity so I can’t help but notice when I feel like
games are wasting my time video games are a waste of time first for example there
are those untimely unlocks like how you have to be
Street Fighter 4 with every character to play as seth then there
are the sometimes but not always optional fetch quests such as the end of
legend Zelda Wind Waker where you have to retrace your footsteps all over hyrule getting different pieces of the triforce thirdly the grind no not the MTV dance show i’m talking about grinding for experience points so you can
beat the next boss or hunting down seven angry honey badgers in far cry 4 just so you can upgrade your weapon holster see the problem is the games are all
or nothing proposition so you’re totally at the mercy of the designer when it
comes to time theres no fast forwarding through the slow parts or skimming
through the pages filled with b and c plot points furthermore games demand your complete attention you can listen to music while
reading you can converse lightly with friends during house of cards but i find
when I’m playing games I can’t do anything else but play them we still cant
even pause during cutscenes for crying out loud assessing the minute by minute cost of
playing games can lead us to take an actuarial approach to play we start to think of games in terms of lost or wasted time I wanna reach the end of persona 4 but I only
have so many years left before I die the designer not jean has said that
design should not only be judged by the problems it solves but by the problems it creates and games
being too long for players to actually finish them is certainly a problem so do games need to be shorter maybe or
maybe not but regardless something has to give
because videogames are experiencing a crisis of audience there are now more players in various
stages of life than ever before and they all want different things from their
games it wasn’t always like this many players grew up on the medium I
was weaned on zelda and sonic consumed Duke Nukem and GTA in high school
and college and pontificated about Bioshock as a twenty-something but now
we have a fissure younger generations with copious amounts
of free time want longer games understandably while the older set of players have a
real lack of playtime we’re becoming parents spouses dog owners as
Patrick klepek of kotaku complained about Dragon Age inquisition’s lengthiness he now values shorter efficient experiences and he makes a fair point a concise
three-hour game that delivers a deeply moving experience would have a more
powerful punch than a 15-hour game thats sort of
entertaining but that you may never finish right although I suspect that many of
you especially the younger viewers disagree you probably want to make sure that your
hard-earned cash goes as far as humanly possible and one might argue that time investment is a sign of your commitment to the
medium but two things even if you’re someone who has a lot of
free time to play games for one reason or another wake up around noon play about four
hours im pretty dedicated to working on my gaming that doesn’t mean the your
time isnt valuable and that it should be wasted doing meaningless side quests and
second my hope as i outlined in my what is a gamer episode is that we assess
people by their understanding of games as an art form
not just for how long they played them or how many fetch missions they’ve
completed so we’ve reached an impasse but I do think that there’s a way
forward what I’m proposing is a human-centered
approach to game design these types of games would take your
personal lifestyle into consideration and craft experiences around that not the other
way around we see human-centered design all the time in other fields ergonomics
for example makes furniture more compatible with the human
anatomy as david kelly of the design firm IDEO has defined it this involves
designing behaviors and personality into products and we’re beginning to see
it in games too a personal favorite of mine is mountain
by David O’Reilly the artist and director who designed the amazing video game in
spike jonze’s her the concept itself is brilliant just
hear me out a second the game world keeps going even when you’re not playing so you can
peek in on your game whenever you have a free minute and again mountain may not be your thing but
none-the-less gains can offer other simple ways to fit into our lives
maybe there is a setting that allows a shorter story in the same way that you
can adjust the game’s difficulty I’m sure a lot of people would have
liked the option for Cliff Notes version of Dragon Age there’s episodic games like the wolf
among us where you could play each episode piecemeal like a television series and then
they’re short games that you can replay a number of times in various different
ways like the Stanley parable or PT and then there are games like
Minecraft and no man sky that are open-ended so you can play them for
as long well as short a time as you like and walk away feeling like you had a
complete experience these games bring new experiences we’ve never had as well
as making games approachable for everyone whether or not you’re someone
who has summer vacation ahead of you seriously enjoy that or someone with
very little free time like me of course there’s nothing wrong with
your occasional epic game like Witcher 3 which is thirty five times the size of Witcher 2
boasts a hundred hours of playtime especially when like an epic novel the
complexity of the story and the game world actually earns its vast scope but what I’m really
excited for is more pragmatic game design which will rebuild some of that
trust between designers and players audiences need to trust the game
designers aren padding their games with superfluous content just to reach some
benchmark and game designers need to trust that players will appreciate their
work even if it isn’t sixty hours long so what
do you think are games getting too long has it out in the comments and if you like what you saw please subscribe I’ll see you next week hey everybody so
last week we talked about whether or not your memories of games are real or not so let’s see what you had to say as you
can see we’re not actually shooting in the studio today we’re actually shooting in my office I know I know I hope you like it
nonetheless let’s jump into the first comment from Paradox acre who raises this really really
fascinating I guess it’s not really a paradox it’s really
more of a question basically this person says that if what I’m saying about game memories is
true that game memories are real then that might explain why people who
play games have such passionate arguments around
about a medium itself it could be something very small
such as like what your favorite game is or your favorite level or whatever that might be or it could be something really really big like the role of women in games regardless if what i’m saying is true
that game memories are real than you’re not really arguing with someone the aesthetic
sensibilities you’re really arguing with their sentence self and that might explain why people get
really upset because your sort of arguing with
who they are as a person things that they actually experienced in
games as opposed to I don’t know your
opinions about film which is something that doesnt really happen to you but anyway thats a great comment from paradox might explain why we see a lot of online rancor around things related to games doone woodtac says that all memories are virtual which actually gets to something I didn’t get a
chance to really explain in the episode which is that the medium of memory itself
flattens all human experiences and what I mean by
that is whether or not you do something in a game or whether or not you actually I
don’t know climb mt. everest or something like that the
medium of memory the way that we remember those things is exactly the same its not
like your virtual memories like your right hand shakes and so thats how you know that those are virtual memories and then your real memories your left hand shakes and
that’s how you know that those are real memories when your brain recalls them
the way it stores all types of things that we’ve experience it’s pretty much the same so we remember
them it’s kinda the same and that’s what makes the nature memory so fascinating and
really interesting anyways great point doone. mister timo3 three makes a
point about let’s play videos and the consolidation of memory specifically that the way that we
remember let’s play videos are like the same way that we remember I
don’t now watching a friend do something except it’s transmitted via
YouTube or twitch or whatever it might be regardless one of the things we know from
research is that one of the ways that memory recall is heightened is that if we revisit memories with other people so if you sit down
with the family Christmas album or the family holiday album or whatever it might be and look at old pictures together that helps us remember things better and
it also serves as a great way to basically triangulate and make sure that
you have like a second opinion but I think that’s true for let’s play
videos that what you’re seeing in those videos is the act of collective memory making it’s thousands of people
watching something happen at the same time and in that sense it makes the memory
of that particular experience even if it’s performed by some other person it makes that memory all that more real jessica lynnberrie takes issue with the idea that film and books are somehow less
personal than games are just to be clear I’m not making a value
judgment there im not saying that film or books are are less personal or less meaningful only that the way in which we narrate
those experiences to others is different from games with games we do use the first person and I wanted to explore what that means to say that i did
something what that means in the context of memory versus if you read i dont know a book like the corrections or wuthering heights might be when you talk about those books
with other people then you don’t use the first person you don’t say that oh i was the characters in that book it’s always third person those characters did that
particular thing you talk about I in the sense that I read this book but not I in the sense that I was those characters
regardless Nicholas Carr makes a great point in the shallows backed by some
research the shallows is an excellent book sort of defending the act of reading
and he’s really trying to fight this idea that somehow books
are a more passive medium he’s trying to sort of make that distinction
between sort of passive and active it’s argued that film and games are more
active and Carr doesn’t think that that’s
necessarily the case and what he says is that the act of reading it does all
these things with your brain for example it sort of creates these fictional universes you
go into this trance-like state that reading is an incredibly active and
engaging process and i would absolutely agree with him but this is game show after all so we are
just talking about games regardless jessica i do agree
with you I don’t think that books and film are any less personal they’re just different

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