Length=Value?

Take a glance at almost any given review of a game. Chances are, at some point, there will be a mention of the amount of time “completing” the game will take, and not rarely, a complaint that said game is too short.

Call of Duty, for example, is annually criticized for being “too short”, and while some might argue that Soap & Co.´s war-adventure is lacking in length, I respectfully disagree.

Take Borat, which in my eyes is a work of pure genius, both in terms of comedy and social commentary. Borat, as good as it might be, lasts only about one hour and twenty minutes, yet in that time, the film has said everything it needs to say perfectly well.

To name a video game example, the recent Alan Wake took me about eight hours to complete. Those eight hours had consisted predominantly of running through the woods while aiming my flashlight.

And I found Alan Wake to be an amazing game, as running through said woods with said flashlight was an experience I´ll look back on with fondness.

I never felt the game was repetitive. But had the game lasted twenty hours, that might not have been the case.

I´m not saying all good games need not be longer than a demo, what I´m saying is that the elements of a game should fit the length. Alan Wake´s gameplay lacks the depth to support a 70-hour game, just as the story lacks the complexity to support something that long. Mass Effect 2, on the other hand, has story and gameplay perfectly fitting it´s 35-hour length.

That does not necessarily mean Mass Effect 2 is “better” because it can support a longer game, it just means it´s different in style.

For example, I found GTA IV to be a little too long. The game was brilliant, sure, but I must say I felt Rockstar´s supposed “masterpiece” dragged in places. The story was engaging, but did not have enough to say to warrant the 30-or-so hours of game time, and the same “enter room-shoot everyone” combat started to lose it´s edge towards the game´s end. The length of GTA IV, was out of balance with the experience of GTA IV.

So when you feel the credits screen in CoD: Black Ops makes it´s appearance too quickly, ask yourself:

Would this game really be enjoyable for another five hours?

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Author: Magnus Risebro View all posts by
Magnus Risebro lives deep in the bowels of Norway. He writes about videogames for Vagary.tv.
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  • Beezball

    In my opinion, the majority of games are too long. My latest worst example of that would be dead space, I loved it, but it just dragged on for about 30% too long.

  • http://kariyanine.com Chris

    I suppose it depends on what you are looking for in a game and your personal definition of value. For me I don’t correlate the stock equation of number of hours / cost = value of game because I am looking for a strong quality in my experience as opposed to just overall length. However some people are looking for a game that they can sink 40 hours into because they can only afford to buy one game every couple of months, so for them value is directly related to the amount of time they can put into the game.

  • MagnusR

    @Chris Halo 3 is only about seven-eight hours long, right? But how many times have people played and re-played that campaign? In the end, you can get a lot of hours out of that game, which in my opinion definitely makes it worth the full asking price.

  • MagnusR

    @Chris Halo 3 is only about seven-eight hours long, right? But how many times have people played and re-played that campaign? In the end, you can get a lot of hours out of that game, which in my opinion definitely makes it worth the full asking price.

    Thanks for commenting, by the way!

  • http://vagary.tv/perfectlysane ChrisS

    @Magnus, I get what you are saying but let’s take CoD4 for example. It’s about a six-seven hour campaign. I played it once and didn’t enjoy the multiplayer. For me that wasn’t worth $60 but for someone else it will be, depending on if they enjoyed the campaign and/or wanted to play multiplayer. Splinter Cell: Conviction is another one for me, it took me about five hours to beat it but I don’t ever want to play it again and I have no interest in the co-op, so for me its not worth $60. It all comes down to what one is looking for in a game and their personal definition of value.