As an adult, finding time to play a video game can be… challenging. There is work, time spent with significant others, pets, chores, and whatever else needs to be dealt with all competing with one’s time. Only after all those things have been completed, spent time with, or tended to is there time to take in a hobby. It is with this busy schedule that previously, I had expressed interest in having more AAA games that were shorter as a way to make video games a little bit more compatible with the typical adult life. Unfortunately, some experiences can’t be compressed without negatively impacting the title and genre they come from, and no better genre exemplifies this than RPGs.
RPGs as a genre focus primarily on character development, and with that, there is a need to facilitate this growth with story and gameplay, but to do that, they need time. You can’t expect players to become infatuated with a character if they know nothing about them or what they have gone through; there needs to be time to connect and develop those bonds between the player and the game’s characters and story. As an adult with a limited amount of time, this can become problematic.
When it comes to choosing what game to play, I have already become pickier than I was in the past, and the games I end up playing end up going through a complex (most likely seen as confusing for those looking from the outside) vetting process for my free time. However, the typical process that more action, adventure, or a combination of the two that clocks in around 8-15 hours go through is insufficient. RPGs are a commitment like no other, and can quickly go from as little as 20 hours to as much as 100+. While I would love nothing more than easily sink my teeth into a great RPG with tons of world-building, I simply can’t. Instead, I must attempt to play them when only the stars have correctly aligned, and the appropriate incantation was performed.
Like any process that is worth discussing, there is a particular ritualistic aspect to it. For me, it begins with the ceremony that can be best translated into English(there is no direct translation) as the Great Pacing. It starts by placing oneself in front of their own sacred altar of video games. For some, this shrine may take on a physical form such as a room dedicated to the practice or even smaller areas around one’s home, such as a bookcase(like myself) or even just a pile. Others may opt to modernize their altar to a digital space containing their games, either is acceptable in the process, but I prefer an actual physical space.
One the designated spot is reached, next begins the first phase of vetting, considering the options. Only once most, but preferably all, available games are present can a proper inspection can enter into what should be played next. I personally like to go through this process by breaking up what I have available by console manufacturer, typically in the order of Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo. While perusing through my collection, I will take note of the types of games I have available and consider my interest in them at any given time. Do I finally decide to give one of the several Final Fantasy games from the PlayStation 2 and 3 era? Maybe, so I take it off the shelf.
After observing this practice for several rounds, I will be finally left with several contenders. It is from this selection that the next phase begins, testing. Here is perhaps the most challenging part of the process as time must be invested to try the games that have made it to this stage. Thankfully, I have a few additional bits of criteria that will eliminate some from this class of contenders that largely comes down to the platform and what else I am playing at the time. Do I have a game I am already working on for that console? Take that one out. Already have a game going on one of my consoles? Better not put that game in the disc drive and look for something that is portable friendly. It at this point in the ritual that the actual playing begins, and at this stage, I can be quite the harsh critic.
If I personally am not in the right headspace for a particular type of game at the time, it’s going back on the shelf. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad game, but just at this very moment in my life, I don’t feel like investing the time to see if I think differently about it a few more hours in. This becomes true for a lot of RPGs that will make it into the testing phase, didn’t grab me right away? I think I will keep looking. I will perform this rite of testing again and again until I find one, maybe even two games that may make the cut. Finally, there comes the penultimate observance of The Wait.
The Wait isn’t something chosen, but instead forced upon myself and others when it comes to making a decision. I don’t want to have to wait, but other things in life come first as an adult, and so I do. It may take hours, days, even weeks sometimes before the full observance of The Wait is made, with each being different than the last. At some point, however, it will eventually reach its completion, and depending on what is felt after this long period of time, a choice may be made. Of course, this doesn’t always result in picking something that has made it through the process up to this point; it sometimes may result in merely the process starting again once more as us humans can be such fickle creatures at times.
Sometimes, however, a choice is made and is decided upon to be played. For myself, the last RPG to make it through this arduous process was Persona 5. A game that is easily one of the longer RPGs available to play in recent memory, with my playthrough clocking in at about 120 hours, resulting in me playing it for several months until I was able to complete it. It was one of the longest games I had played for some time and happened to release at a time when I was itching for a new Persona game to play; thankfully, my wish was granted. But this is the exception more so than the rule, as an adult, I find myself far more likely to start an RPG and stop it shortly after because it didn’t grab me immediately, and considering how many other titles I have available, it was easier just to move on and try something else that may have that initial spark of interest to keep me going.
Perhaps to some, this process may seem a bit absurd, but as a typical adult nearly in his 30’s (who can’t believe he wrote that), the processing of choosing my next form of entertainment is just as crucial as trying it and enjoying it. I don’t want to just dive first into the next RPG, or any game for that matter that is going to take up a lot of my time, without proper consideration of what if I do or don’t wish to commit to playing something, and how much time may have been lost.
Maybe you feel similarly, or for you, its a little different, but in the end, the same. As adults, we don’t have the same time we used to, and if we are going to devote time diving into a game that is about building one’s character and becoming entrenched in the story, it has to be what we want at the right time or it will be passed over for something else. We don’t have time anymore to be bothered to keep with games we don’t find enjoyable.
After all, we have this thing called work already, and I certainly don’t want to add to it.