Raging on the internet about how games are being "dumbed" down and simplified is all the … erm .. rage these days.
Hordes of "hardcore" gamers flock to gaming forums and mourn the death of games that do not hold the players hand and can not be completed in 7-10 hours of playing.
They say that the "console kids" of today, with their aversion for anything challenging has ruined game design and turned most modern games into;
"click this button to win. No, not that button, over here. Look, this button he … Never mind, I'll do it for you * click *".
I am going to confess something to you. I * like * that games have become more casual friendly and that they do a better job of introducing the player to game mechanics and how everything works in the game.
I am almost 30 years old and have been playing games since I was 5 (that was on a C64, talk about a non-user friendly machine).
I have a full time job and a girl friend and I have lots of real life obligations that means I can not spend anywhere close to the amount of time playing video games that I could (and did) when I was a kid or teenager.
Conversely, I have a lot more money to spend than I did as a kid, so buying / renting new games is much less than an issue for me, than it was 15-20 years ago.
If I am lucky I will have maybe an hour or two in the evening on weekdays and maybe two or three hours in the weekend that I can use for playing games.
That gives me somewhere around maybe 10-12 hours of gaming a week on average.
Having been a video game aficionado since before I could read, I really love video games and I generally want to try out many different games, even if they are not exactly in my normal wheelhouse genre.
During a week I can easily play at least 3-4 different games, especially during a "high" season of releases like Q4 that we have just entered now.
Back in the early 90's your game would have considered short if it could have been completed in less than maybe 20-25 hours.
I remember the outcry from the gaming community when "Max Payne" launched as one of the first "Triple A" games with a sub 10 hour long campaign.
Gamers simply did not feel that they were getting enough bang for their buck.
I also remember playing X-Com: UFO defense (which * is * a great game, no argument) and spending at least 10-15 hours messing around before I got enough of a grasp of the game mechanics to not get my butt kicked immediately by the first alien invaders that dropped by.
With my time (and, I am sure, this is the situation for many "older" gamers that have grown up and find their calendars booked with grocery shopping, business meetings and dinner with the in-laws) now being such a scarce resource, I can simply no longer persuade myself to devote time into a game that keeps knowledge of how to play it properly, a well kept secret.
I do not want to play "National Treasure" with the game controls and look for obscure clues that make me go "oh, maybe I need to do this then?" * splat * "No, guess not".
This goes doubly if the game is also one that promises (threats?) To use up 20+ hours of my time to complete.
If I'm playing a game with a story (and those are usually the games I prefer) then I really want to see that story through to the end, and knowing it's going to take me several months of gaming to do that is actually a daunting proposition to me.
So I am perfectly happy with a campaign that I can complete in 6-8 hours.
I like a game that checkpoints my progress every 10 minutes, so I do not have to replay a one hour section of the game because I screwed up (potentially multiple times, depending on how tough the save system is on you).
Most of all, I like that I can * relax * when I'm playing a game and not stress out in frustration or thinking that I just want to get it done so I can move on to the next game.
And my feeling of self loathing, but that's another article
To the people that feels that this is the largest gaming disaster since the Nintendo Wii, I can only say; Do not worry guys, there will always be a segment of the market that enjoys hugely complex and long games.
Certain people will make time in their lives for a game that * demands * the full and utter attention of the gamer for the duration of its 50+ hours of gameplay.
And some will be satisfied with simply picking up a single game every 6-8 months and just play that religiously, never so much as glancing at what else is out there for them to play.
The success of games like Dark Souls is a testament to this.
As for me, I am looking forward to playing (and completing) several great games in the next few months, such as Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3 and Driver: San Francisco.
And you know what?
I may even set the difficulty to easy for some of them!