I don’t have a family or any kids, but I am busy. I do a job where I work twelve-hour shifts and spend a reasonable amount of my downtime doing unpaid work. I don’t have the time I used to for gaming. If Modern Warfare 3 had come out five years earlier I’d be prestige fifteen by now on multiplayer. As it stands I’m prestige two.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy games, I do. In fact, I love gaming. I also don’t feel that spending less time in front of my Xbox, Wii or PC makes me any less of a gamer than I was before. It’s just that I don’t have as much time, and given I regularly put in sixty hour working weeks I’m frequently too tired to even switch on the Xbox, let alone have the required concentration to play a game.
When I buy games I have to consider not only the amount of time and effort that will have to go into playing the game, but whether or not it’s suitable for playing for a couple of hours at a time. Gone are the days when I could wake up, play the computer for sixteen hours, and then go back to sleep. (Oh, how I miss those days – responsibility really sucks.) So the question is; what games are suitable for people who don’t really have that much time to play anymore? It’s a difficult question, and I appreciate that the article may be skewed in favour of the kind of games I play, but that’s why we have a discussion section below so please let me know your thoughts.
Saints Row: The Third
It’s the game that Grand Theft Auto used to be. A ridiculous plot, you get rewarded for absolute mindless violence and it features a large purple dildo as a weapon. This game took up all my gaming time when it came out. The missions are short, for one; the longest I spent on a single mission was perhaps around thirty minutes and only because I died a couple of times whilst playing it. The game doesn’t demand your time like, for example, Skyrim.
It’s the FPS equivalent of a party game. Pick up a controller, blow some shit up for half-an-hour, and go to bed. In fact, with the game’s ‘diversions’ – non-story missions that vary from ‘Blow as much stuff up with this tank in 4 minutes as you can’ to ‘Put on this panda suit and sky dive through these rings while killing as many people on nearby rooftops as you can’ – it nearly is a party game. To me Saints Row 3 was underrated. It was a little broken and glitchy when it came out, and it didn’t look as great as other games do, but it had the one thing lacking in many titles – it is absolute fun from start to finish. It makes no odds whether you sit in front of it for six hours or sixty minutes, I’ve never had anything but a great time when playing it, and it’s even more fun in co-op.
A bit of a broad one, given there are quite a few. Games that make you look ridiculous and have you jumping around your living room. I have only played a couple -Kinect Adventures and a couple of the fitness ones – but for people with little time it can actually be a pretty good alternative to actual ‘proper’ exercise. Going to the gym regularly isn’t possible, but spending thirty minutes in the morning trying not to break your legs because you’ve moved that bit too far backwards and tripped over the sofa is easy to do and requires a lot less time overall.
Formula One 2011
Ok. I understand that this is what could be described as a ‘specialist’ game. Formula One is very much a love it or hate it sport. If you don’t like the sport itself, you’re very unlikely to enjoy the game. It doesn’t seem like the kind of game you can dip in and out of, but it’s actually perfect for it. I’ve had the game since it came out last September and am still playing through career mode (though I did forget it existed during F1’s December to February break). In a little over an hour I can play through two race weekends and leave it at that. Again, it doesn’t demand you keep playing. It’s not as if the next race is going to be a surprise, the calendar never changes (the only exception to is when the next race in question is your favourite track). The game can be as complicated as you want it to be. You can spend thirty minutes before a race setting up every aspect of your car, from your gear ratios to your fuel mix, then do three practice sessions: full qualifying and all seventy-eight laps of Monaco, or you can choose from six preset car set ups, skip practice, do a short qualifying, and race at 20% distance. Assuming you’re a fan of Formula One, it’s actually a great game regardless of how much time you can afford to devote to it.
The Call Of Duty Series
This could really apply to any FPS game that’s skewed more towards multiplayer than singleplayer, but I have put more time into the Call Of Duty games than Battlefield and the like. I got Modern Warfare 3 when it came out, and took a few days off work to play. So I finished the single player campaign in one sitting of probably around six hours or so. The online multiplayer – both Spec Ops and competitive online – is an excellent way to blow off some steam for a couple of hours. It’s also a great way of realising you’re tired and should go to bed. You get tired; you get your ass kicked. There are a lot of people who play these games who must get every callsign, emblem, and get to prestige fifteen far before anyone else. Fair enough, work away there folks. I really don’t care too much about that. I don’t often play it without being in a party of friends, but thankfully there’s always someone online and it’s definitely a game more fun with people you know to abuse over Xbox Live.
Dead Space/Dead Space 2
The only reason these games make the list is because they put me on edge so much I don’t like to play them for more than an hour at a time. Not since Eternal Darkness – the massively underrated title for the GameCube – has a game messed with my head to the extent of Dead Space. Note: If you haven’t played Dead Space before and plan to, for the love of God turn off your surround sound or you’ll be looking over your shoulder for days. I just…. I can’t talk any more about this, even thinking about the game is creeping me out a little.
Honourable mentions to the two games that I somehow gave massive amounts of time to, despite not really having that much to give.
This is a great puzzle game. Even without Wheatley and GLaDOS, it would still be a great puzzle game. The story and dialogue kept me hooked throughout, and I played late into the night far too many times. This, to me, is a perfect example of a game that absolutely demands you continue playing. But only because the dialogue is so well written you want to keep playing to hear what line will have you giggling like a schoolgirl next.
The Football Manager Series
I’ve been playing the Football Manager games since 1995 when the migraine inducing Championship Manager 2 came out. I’ve bought every version of the game up to the current Football Manager 2012 (there was a name change in 2005 for various reasons). This is the most addictive game on the planet and it is my gaming Kryptonite.
Picture the scene: It’s 11pm and you have to get up at six the next morning for work. You fire up the laptop, Steam opens, and you see Football Manager 2012. It’s been a while since you last played, so you decide to start a new game. Playing to midnight then going to sleep, that’s the plan. Then, this happens:
I’ll just start the season, buy some players and go to bed before the first league match.
I’ll play a couple of games here to see how my new players get on in a competitive match.
It’s nearly the end of the month, I may as well just finish off the games and I’ll pick up tomorrow on 1st of September.
The next match is a cup match, so I should play that then go to bed.
My star player is back from injury, I’ll just give him a run out in the next game.
I’ve only got a couple of matches to go until October; I may as well just play those.
Repeat until a) you fall asleep and drool on your laptop, but its ok because you won the game. Or b) your alarm starts beeping beside you and you realise that you have to go to work bleary eyed and delirious from sleep deprivation.
There are a lot more games that could be added to this list, and if you have any more suggestions for games to dip in and out of, please share them in the comments, because I can never have too many…