With the news coming out last week that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was 6-8 hours long, it sparked a mild controversy and an age old debate. Does length matter?
This isn’t a simple question, when answering it you have to take into account each individual and their current situation. Speaking for myself, length does matter at times. As someone who doesn’t exactly have an abundance of money, I have to be very strategic about my video game purchases. Of course, I certainly would love to purchase each new release as it comes out, but that simply isn’t something I can do. While I don’t view each purchase as, well I’m paying 60 dollars for an 6-8 hours experience that’s $7.50-10 per hour of entertainment, it is something that I myself have to consider.
I also have to take into account how powerful the experience is. Let’s take a game such as Uncharted 2 for example. That game is around 10-12 hours long, yet the lasting effect of that game is so powerful and so lasting that the 10-12 hour length of it is perfect. If the game was any longer, it would have dragged on and there would have been more low points to the game itself. The narrative and gameplay itself would have gotten old and quite frankly boring if it went on for much longer, I say that with Uncharted 2 being one of my favorite experiences of all time, whether it be gaming or non gaming. Then we have a game like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it’s an excellent game without question, I spent numerous hours in that world. In saying that, it did get to the point where the game started to lose it’s impact, I had no motivation after a while to do anything besides acting out my own stories that I would craft myself with my character. I left Skyrim rather bored of it even though it was an amazing game, when I left Uncharted 2 I wanted more of it, I wanted more of all the characters, I wanted more of the puzzles, I wanted more of everything in that game. Of course both of these games are very different, but it does bring up an interesting argument about the length of a video game and the last impact it has.
Now both of these games do have something in common, they are both single player experiences. When purchasing a game multiplayer is something that I myself take into consideration, even if it isn’t a reason that I make a purchase. Adam Sessler one of the mainstays of the industry put it best, a multiplayer game is like a girlfriend, you stay with her for a long time and you get to know her extremely well. A single player game is like a fling, you’re with her, you enjoy it thoroughly, you might call her back for a booty call and get one more playthrough but that’s it, you can have a lot of flings, you just can’t have a lot of girlfriends. I love having a good multiplayer experience because like I’ve noted before, I am on a budget so a game that I can constantly go back to is a great thing and that is a game I will purchase day one, for me that game is EA’s NHL series. I know I’m going to sink countless hours into it, playing online with my team, increasing my players stats, slowly improving ETC.
Now to get back to the point, does length matter? Well, there is not really one answer for that question. You can have a powerful experience in both a “short” game such as Uncharted and a “long” game such as Mass Effect. You can also have a good experience in a “long” game but it peters out at the end such as the case with Skyrim. So I didn’t really do a good job at answering the question that I prevented myself, partially because there is no answer, length is something that is meaningless if not accompanied with excellent gameplay and story telling.