Games and that “in between” time

Image by Flickr user Dave Carter (CC)
Image by Flickr user Dave Carter (CC)

In what state of mind do you start a new game? Are you a blank slate, ready to receive whatever situations come your way? Or is your brain roiling with questions and concerns? Will you like the game? Will the characters be enjoyable to play? How long will the game take? What special stuff will you find? And on and on and on.

It used to be that I approached new games as a blank slate, with no preconceived notions or intentions about the game. Nowadays, however, it’s much harder to not question a new game before I start it. And the kind of game doesn’t matter. From a six hour puzzler to a sixty hour RPG, I require some kind of assurance that the new game in front of me is going to be worth my time.

Because that’s what gaming as an adult comes down to: TIME. Not to get all grandmotherly up in here, but there really does come a time in every gamer’s life when personal responsibilities must take precedent over the games. What that means for me is that I now have to take a more processed approach to starting up a new game. I have to consider my short term availability and figure out which game makes the most sense in which to invest the free time that I may have. Of course, life being life, there are no guarantees, but I’d rather look before I leap. Leaping unseen has just led to too many false starts.

I’m currently in between games. When I was finishing up Xenoblade Chronicles, I had in mind a couple different options, either continue a game that I had previously started or start a game anew. Of the started games, I had The Last of Us and Rayman Legends. Of the new games, there were a slew, but at the forefront were The Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Tomb Raider. All of these games differ from each other and are far from the experience of Xenoblade Chronicles. And although started, Rayman and TLoU had as much as chance of being picked than any others. And yet…no choice has been made. I’ve simply been unable to decide. This is partly due to real life happenings overtaking my free time. And it’s partly due to some anxiety I’m harboring, because I don’t want to choose the “wrong” game. And, I’ll admit, I don’t want to get stuck in another months-long slog (no offense, XC). Believe you me, right now, even finishing a short game would take me awhile, so…

Maybe a break would be good? Even the most dedicated of us need a break every now and then, right?

Then again, it’d be a shame to ignore the wave that I’m still riding high after XC. That set me on a roll in several ways, not the least of which is a renewed completionist spirit. It feels like it been awhile since I really beat a game, so why not keep on keepin’ on?

Only then the question becomes: which game? Or even more simply: which genre? Because there’s something of a process to that too. In a way, it makes sense to follow up a long RPG with something short, maybe a puzzler or a platformer. Maybe something where you’re not shooting everything in site. Something less stressful and more mindful. Everyone has different preferences and backlogs, so there’s no perfect solution. But if you have your own process, I’d love to hear it.

For now, I’m still deciding.

Do you have a process when it comes to picking what games to play? Do you like to jump immediately from one game to the next, or do you prefer to enjoy some alone time between games?

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Dina Farmer says:

    For me personally, I tend to stick to RPGS or Action Adventure games. Just because I love story driven games. I agree have a process about determining if I wish to continue a game. I might jump initially with almost any new RPG I’m handed but if I’m not drawn in by the first 30-45 mins of game play, I’ll return the game.

    I just don’t have that much time to devote to discovering if a game is going to get better, when it is doing a poor job of making me want to find out what will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I wrote a post on how first impressions can really make or break a game. They are so important! Like, if I’m not enamored with the game within the first hour of play, chances are it’s not for me. There are have been cases where I pushed through just to see if things got better, but usually those games fell aside for others.

      My core games tend to be RPGs, action adventure games, and platformers. But sometimes I like to break things up with a puzzle game or shooter. It kind of depends on how well things went and how long I spent with a previous game.


  2. duckofindeed says:

    I typically start a new game the day after I finish one, but when I start nearing the end of a game, I do start to think seriously about what’s going to come next. I finished an 80-hour long RPG a few months ago, and now I’m 80 hours into another RPG, with the end coming up in the near future. Now that I’m nearing the end of this game, I had to decide…what next? The two games I have left that haven’t been played yet are Final Fantasy 4 and 5, but at the moment, I’m really not in the mood for more RPGs.

    So I’ve decided it would be fun to replay some old games on the N64, like Rayman 2 and the two Banjo-Kazooie games. So while I don’t take breaks between games, I still take a little bit of a rest in the form of games that require a much smaller commitment. Rayman 2 will be done in a week, and Banjo-Kazooie just requires a lot less in-depth strategy, so my mind will get a chance to cool down for a while. It’s funny how much thought we put into our next game, but like you said, as we get older, it becomes all the more important our game time is quality time. No more bad games for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      That’s such a good idea — interspersing older/familiar games among those that are new to you. You’re still playing games, but replaying beloved games is much less stressful. So it’s like taking a break even though you’re still playing.

      I also usually go from one game to the next almost immediately, but Xenoblade Chronicles really took the wind out of those sails. But it’s been a couple weeks, and I’m feeling better about getting back on that gaming horse. Now I just have to pick a game and get on with it! 🙂


  3. simpleek says:

    When it comes to picking my video game challenges each month, I try to think back on all the games I might have tried playing at one point, what level of progression I’m at when I last played them, and then decide how likely I’m going to finish them within a month. I know there are some games I absolutely won’t finish within a month, but I think trying to finish certain games you started a while ago with an intent on finishing them once and for all is a good starting point. At least for me it is. Time is such a difficult thing to factor in when you’re an adult…says us old farts! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Haha, well said! 🙂 I guess there’s no telling just how long a particular game will take to finish until you start playing it. Even a really short game could take weeks if you just don’t have the time to invest. Your approach to picking games makes sense. You have to gauge free time vs game time, and hope for the best. Plus, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of finishing a game, so that factors in as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Because I now have so many games (and the library is constantly expanding it seems!) I’m quite fickle when it comes to games and have difficulty committing. Part of the reason too is that I don’t plan what I’m going to play next… ever. Off the top of my head I can name about five games – and that number grows exponentially looking at my shelves – that I fully intend to go back to, and put down for no reason, but it’s been days, weeks, months, even years since I played them?! A few months ago, I played Earthbound up until Fourside, a good time investment. I put the game down for about two months, and then resolved to replay it from the start, with an aim to actually beat it. I eventually made it to Fourside yet again, then got distracted by something else. It’s been about a month now with no Earthbound action. Earthbound: just another casualty of this fickle gameplayer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      After my “should I play Chrono Trigger or Earthbound” debate was over (having deja vu as I may have said this before), I started up a playthrough of Earthbound just because I was so curious. I didn’t get very far (I think I’m still in Twoson), and I haven’t been very motivated to pick it back up. Someday, maybe…but there are so many other games that just feel like priorities. And that’s where I kind of have to trick myself into believing that one game is more important to play RIGHT NOW over another. It’s a weird mindset and one that, I think, only works for video game players. I can’t imagine what life would be like if I thought that way about everything. I don’t think I’d get anything done. Ever!


      1. Yeah, I only used it as an example, but truth be told I’m not the biggest Earthbound fan. Apart from the wacky sense of humour and the excellent soundtrack, I don’t think there’s a whole lot to recommend it.

        As weird a mindset as it may be (tricking yourself to prioritise one game over others constantly), I can see at least one obvious benefit: closure! Occasionally there’s a game – Xenoblade is a recent example – that truly dominates my gaming schedule, and nothing else gets a look in… seeing the credits roll on an experience like that is very satisfying.

        Liked by 1 person

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