My video game backlog is getting out of hand.
I feel like I’ve been playing “Dragon Age: Inquisition” for months now, which is probably because I have been playing it for months. I bought the game — which can take up to 150 hours to fully complete — on the day it came out, and I’ve been slowly pushing through it a few hours a week ever since.
The problem is that Santa Claus brought me the “Lord of the Rings” spinoff “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” and the PS4 version of “Grand Theft Auto V,” both of which boast single-player modes that take between 25 and 50 hours to complete. I haven’t started either of them.
Given that two highly anticipated titles — “Evolve” and “The Order: 1886” — are finally coming out next month, I may not finish any of these three lengthy games until the summer.
And I am OK with that. No one ever said that finishing a game is mandatory or necessary for enjoyment.
Too often, gamers feel this weird sense of bravado when they play long, difficult games. I have friends and co-workers who think they have to prove their worth by smashing these story-driven titles in a timely fashion.
I don’t see it that way. I take my time in finishing these lengthy role-playing games, which allows me to soak up my fantasy life in a made-up world for months, not days.
I really like “Dragon Age: Inquisition.” I can see why many chose it as game of the year. Its many open-world options were daunting at first, but now I love the level of freedom I have in approaching a fairly standard role-playing game plot.
This week, the PBS Game/Show — an online video series on gaming — tackled the question of whether today’s games are too long. Popular gaming news website Polygon’s editorial board also jumped on the issue, saying that shorter games are a good thing because they can be made and sold for less money.
The PBS video cited a CNN story from 2011 that reported only 10% of gamers finish their games. The tone of that article was that of someone scolding us pesky millennials for not being able to finish anything we start — even our cherished video games.
I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. These massive and complex games have always existed. “The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall” is a 20-year-old DOS game, but it boasted a fantasy world of more than 62,000 square miles.
I look at these behemoths the same way people have always looked at massive novels like “War and Peace” or “The Stand.” I may never finish some of these games, but I enjoy plugging away at them with what little free time I have.
I do understand why “Dragon Age: Inquisition” makes some writers grumpy. We’ve all grown up now. I’ve learned that writing about games — and being old in general — keeps me from playing them more often than not. Most adults probably don’t have the time for long games.
That’s why it is interesting that almost all 50-hour-plus games are rated mature. They are in fact designed for adults who are probably too bogged down in responsibility to finish them.
I can also see why designing shorter games is the better business move. The sales charts are dominated by shooters and sports titles every year. These games are simple, short and repetitive enough to appeal to a wide variety of fans.
If there’s one thing I know about gaming in 2015, it’s that there’s plenty of room for variety in our vast gaming universe.
I love those short console games. Most of my time is spent playing or writing about sports games, which hold a very important spot in the gaming sphere.
I hate mobile games, but I understand why millions love them. Quick, repetitive patterns and controls keep things simple for those on the go. People don’t want to think hard while waiting in line at the DMV.
But I do think that most of gaming’s crowning achievements come from these titanic open-world titles.
My friends and I all knew exactly where we were and what day it was when we first walked through Skyrim in the fifth Elder Scrolls game. I can vividly recall the opening scenes of “Final Fantasy VII” and “Final Fantasy X,” both of which started in beautiful crumbling cities and stretched on for hours in a living, breathing world.
Although the industry is moving toward shorter games with bigger payouts, I’m glad that we will continue to get our sweeping epics in the traditional role-playing games and the half-dozen space simulators set to debut in 2015.