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Open World Games: Who Has the Time?

Recently I poured my heart and soul into Red Dead Redemption 2, so much so that I chose to review the game. My journey with Red Dead 2, took me approximately 50 hours to finish and believe me when I say this, I was ready for the conclusion. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the game – far from it, in fact – it’s that the time needed to finish the game was not as readily available to me as it once was. I am a 36-year-old gamer, I am married, I have a son and a day job. This means, for me, in this “golden age” of gaming, I am truly unable to sample ALL of the delights that are on offer.

I am not as upset about this as I thought I would be. Gaming has been and still is a huge part of my life. I regularly interact with many people online in regards to gaming and when I have the time I write articles for my own website and others.

With the birth of my son, I knew going in that my gaming time would be curtailed, at least until he was a little older. I am now, very aware of the time constraints I have in regards to gaming and it has its frustrations. Tempering that frustration, I am also aware that, I will hopefully be able to enjoy and experience the games I love and cherish with my son one day and that thought is what gets me through the periods of frustration.  That frustration surfaces especially when a new game releases and I know I simply won’t have the time to enjoy it. This may come off as selfish to anyone other than a gamer so I hope I am in good company here with this article.

With my “playtime” seriously reduced it made me think that unless you have a very large bank account and, more importantly, unlimited time, you will not be able to play even half of the games that release throughout the year.

This brings me onto a question: who has the time for all of the large 50-hour open world games?

The average age of a PlayStation owner is, according to a number of sources, 35 years old.  That means there are a large group of people that I imagine are in the same or similar situation to myself.

Nowadays, I find myself becoming a lot more selective about the games I play. Years ago during my time with the PS3 and early days of PS4, I would purchase most if not all AAA games. I had the time to pour 40+ hours into a game and then move onto the next. I know I still crave the open world experience but feel I am unable to truly put the time and effort in to really get the maximum experience and enjoyment from it. Those who are in the same situation as myself will know the term “backlog” well.

After playing through Red Dead Redemption 2 I was hungry for something a little lighter on the palate, in terms of hours but not quality. I chose Resident Evil 2 as I am a huge fan of most of the previous games in the series. Apart from the game being a breath of fresh air, I was very aware that the game would only last, at least for each character, around 5 – 10 hours. I knew that I wasn’t going to pour countless hours into this game to find out some semblance of a conclusion; it can be played easily with short blasts of 30 minutes here or there. Red Dead, on the other hand, felt like I had achieved or accomplished almost nothing if I spent 30 minutes playing it.

Moving forward with my gaming life, at least for the time being, I am definitely going to alter my purchases. I will try out other game experiences and put the open-world genre to one side for the time being. I am keen to try some arcade style games as well as experiencing some lesser known indie titles. This I feel will keep my gaming urges at bay until I can set aside some REAL time to battle those open-world adventures I know and love.

Can you handle the rigours of open world games as an adult gamer?  Have you had to change the way you game due to aspects of your life?  Leave a comment below!

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  1. I’m in the same boat. 40, avid gamer, 2 kids and I’m in school. I still find some time for open world games here and there – last year I completed Far Cry 5 and Spider Man because I could make measurable progress in a short session. I really liked RDR2 but eventually lost interest for the reasons you described above. I generally play Rogue Like’s for this reason. By definition they almost have to be bite sized so I know that I can make progress in short play sessions. Funny thing is I sink more time into these than open world games all in bite sized increments (e.g. I sunk 1500+ hours into Binding Of Isaac over the years and anytime I can’t find something to play with my available time I go back to that or other rogue likes)

  2. It gets better. I am 52, my son is about 2 months away from graduating high school and I have a lot of time to play if I choose to. But what’s the hurry, if it takes you a year to finish so be it.

  3. I am so with you on this. My circumstances are very similar (married, full time job, three young kids). I love games and really want to stay current with the latest and greatest but for 50+ hour epics, it’s just not realistic for me. The Switch has saved me here. I’d never have finished Zelda BoTW were it not for the fact I was able to squeeze 20 mins here, 45 mins in on commutes, in waiting rooms etc. If Sony launched a similar form factor exclusively for the PS4 back catalogue, I’d be extremely tempted to make that my next gaming investment instead of a next-gen console – there are literally hundreds of amazing titles to catch up on and there’s no way I’ll ever get to do that in my living room during this phase of my life. Great article.

    • Thanks for your kind words here Fraser, means a lot to get positive feedback. I definately hear you on the switch front. It has been a God send for me in my gaming endeavours recently. I played zelda almost in its entirety handheld & all over the place in terms of location. If only Sony would muster up a version like the one you mention. I’d be a very happy cheaply indeed. Thanks again & happy gaming.

  4. If a game is longer, you just take longer to complete it. It should be considered a marathon, rather than a sprint. I don’t have any kids yet, but I have a day job and I freelance as well. I think it’s just about finding time as and when you can, and taking advantage of it. I try to remain extremely organised and structured, fitting gaming into my schedule when I can.

    Regarding Red Dead, I’ll take inspiration from the meme: those are rookie numbers. I must have poured around 150 hours into Red Dead 2, and loved every minute. I think taking 50 hours to complete a sprawling open world title is a quick play through.

    In this day and age, I think open world games have to be bigger and better with each iteration. Take Rage, for example. The first was a fairly linear ‘open world’, but Rage 2 was fully open-world. What about Grand Theft Auto? They try and beat the expanse of their gaming worlds with each new release. Assassin’s Creed’s maps are bigger with each iteration, moving from cities, to regions, to countries and beyond. The list goes on.

    Open world games are definitely an “in it for the long run” kind of experience.

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