I Miss Playing and Mastering One Game. Kinda.

Some gamers play as many games as they can, while others play one title, or a select few, investing themselves into those experiences and squeezing every ounce of enjoyment from them.

I envy those who can commit to one title without regrets.  I’m the type of adult gamer who looks at the games coming out and gets hit by a dreadful sense of FOMO.

There are so many incredible games being released every year, month, week, day, that it isn’t possible to experience even the best of them in one lifetime. And that hurts me.

I try to keep up, picking up the occasional title on, or soon after, release, then vacuum the rest up through Steam sales and Humble Bundles. I manage to play a few dozen of those titles a year and maybe finish a handful (though I’m trying to get organised to beat my backlog). More often than not, I find myself jumping into a game for just a few hours before moving onto the next one before seeing the credits roll.

I’m starting to recognise that my gaming experiences are beginning to lean on the side of quantity over quality – not in terms of the quality of games that I’m spending my time with, but rather the quality of time that I’m spending with them.

More often than not, my gaming sessions are an attempt to claw through as much content as possible in the limited time that I have available. I let the length of games dictate whether I will ever play them (anything over 30 hours has to be really, really special). Sidequests aren’t optional – they’re non-existent.  I focus on charging through the main story arc, hoping to see the credits roll before the urge to move into something else becomes too strong.

I haven’t always been like this.

I grew up knowing that I’d get a few new titles a year. Thanks to being able to trade those titles in for credit against other games, I could get my hands on half a dozen titles of diminishing value a year. Those games had to keep me going for the whole 12 months and, as a result, I learned to cherish them. I’d speak with every NPC, open every chest, try to max out every stat. I’d try to squeeze every moment out of every game I had.

Even more recently, I’ve invested horrendous amounts of time into FIFA and Football Manager and loved every minute with them.  With FIFA, I took pride in assembling Ultimate Team squads of rare players and holding my own against others online.  In Football Manager, I could waste every evening half-watching TV with my family while I clicked through season after season.  Winning World Cups and Champions League titles in a game notorious for being challenging is something I still look back on as an achievement.

Why not go back to mastering a few games?

It would make sense to, would it?  Paying less than £100 per year on games and investing the time to truly become an adept player sounds like a reasonable trade.

But then I look at the Final Fantasy 7 Remake.  I look at Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.  I look at Death Stranding (even if it is weird).  I look at Cyberpunk 2077 and other incredible games on the horizon.  Dedicating myself to one or two games just isn’t an option.

As much as I envy players who are able to block out every other title to enjoy the titles they want to invest themselves in, I could never go back to being one.  I love the variety of video games being released seemingly every day to turn a blind eye to them.  I want to experience massive open worlds with others online, and carefully crafted linear single-player adventures.  I want to score fluke goals in Rocket League, and click my way through Disco Elysium’s gorgeous isometric setting.  I want to play all of the amazing games being released on PS Now on the PC.  I couldn’t sacrifice these experiences, plus countless others, to go back to knowing every intricate detail of a few games.

Are you someone who dedicates the bulk of their gaming time to one, or a few, titles?  If so, let us know which games you’re playing and why.

Written by John

I'm a 36-year-old gamer, clinging onto the gamepad despite real life responsibilities trying to pull me kicking and screaming away. You can follow me on Twitter: @johnlevelsup.

Current setup: Gaming PC with a 1080 Ti, Xbox Series X, Steam Deck, and retro consoles, on a Gigabyte M32Q monitor, sitting on a Flexispot E7 standing desk.