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The Main Event: Spare time versus The Storyline

Posted 05-13-2010 at 08:42 PM by BigBPlaya

As I have grown older and matured(well, probably not so much on the second part), of course it has become more difficult to find time for gaming. Work and other responsibilities vie for the limited time that each day presents, and what's left over can be divvied up between relaxation, sleep, and playing video games. Therefore, there has been many a week where I haven't played games at all. Sometimes I'm able to play to play for several hours one day, or maybe an hour a week, and then the dry spell hits again.

This creates issues for me when it comes to starting new games-especially anything involving a narrative. I'll give an example. A couple of months ago I finally opened Devil May Cry 4(which had been sitting for several months after I picked it up for a cost-efficient ten bucks), and played for an hour or two. I haven't touched it since. Luckily, I still recall where I am in the game and what was going on in the story. But who knows when I will actually go back to it. By the time I do, I may have forgotten what was going on.

This brings me to my predicament. Most of the time when I find some time for gaming and want to get back into a game, I start over from the beginning if it involves a narrative because I forget where I was in the story. Then when time escapes me, I lose it again, creating a rather vicious cycle. Perhaps others don't feel the same way, but I like to be engaged with the story when I'm going through a game.

Maybe I should stick to rentals(if only blockbuster had no late fees again-not this dollar-a-day crap on top of almost ten bucks a game). If I'm playing a rental, I pretty much force myself through a game to finish it by the time I have to return it. Most recently I did that with Prototype. It was nice to let the story play out, and I was glad I didn't spend 60 on it(by the way, anyone still playing it? I only think about it every now and then-nice concept but not that memorable of a game. Should have been-it was actually a pretty GREAT concept. Sidebar over). But rushing through a game isn't always fun either.

Immersive experiences are what made video games successful in the first place, and I have a great respect for them. Even in this era of equal focus on the casual gamer, game publishers sink or swim on the ability to produce games to appeal to the more hardcore side of gamers. But when my gaming cycle gets off, I'm more prone to reach for the "quick" game-something I can jump into again without having to remember the story details. It can even be something I've already played through because I know the story-like Mario 64 on the DS or Dead Rising just to collect achievements. That's why I was up until five on Sunday morning tearing through SSFIV Xbox Live Matches for five hours straight and haven't played Bioshock 2 since I bought it on launch day.

You know how on TV programs they recap what happened the week before? That's what I need in my game narrative. If I have to go six months without cruising around Liberty City, I want to fire up the game and get a recap of the story-and maybe some gameplay highlights of the last hour of logged playing time. That would be pretty cool.
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