It pains me to see great games criticized for being too short or not having a lower price point. In a world where everything surrounding us is constantly vying for our attention, time is a premium, and filling it up with mediocre experiences, a waste.
I want to have great experiences, not just long ones, and I’m willing to pay for them. Just like other media, each game has an ideal length to develop its ideas fully, and we shouldn’t fall to pressures to make then any longer than they should be. I don’t want endless grinding or backtracing through the level to meet a minimum time quota. Just like every book doesn’t have to be The Lord Of The Rings, there is room for both epic sagas like Dragon Age and Fallout and short experiences like Limbo or Braid. Maybe there’s even room for the equivalent of Italo Calvino’s shortest short story, The Dinosaur.
I would go as far to say that games should err on the side of being too short rather than too long. There’s a saying in Spanish that goes “Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno“, which roughly translates into “Good things, if short, twice as good”. I’d rather be left wanting more than not being able to finish something. As a busy gamer, I don’t get to finish many games these days, and the ones that I do really stand out from the others and hold a special spot in my heart.
Besides, a lot of other games can’t even be measured in length. How long is Starcraft? Team Fortress? Civilization? Tilt To Live? They are as long or as short as you want. Should we be docking them for being too short? Should we force all games to have infinite replay value? No, the important thing is that they’re great experiences.
Forget length. Give me awesome.
Other Indie Voices On Game Length
- Alex Amsel of Tuna
- Alex Okafor of One Man Left
- Brett Douville of Bethesda Softworks
- Chris DeLeon of HobbyGameDev
- Chris Hecker of Spy Party
- Cliff Harris of Positech Games
- Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games
- Eitan Glinert of Fire Hose Games
- Greg Wohlwend of Intution Games
- Gavin Bowman of Retro Dreamer
- Jamie Fristrom of Torpex Games
- Jeffrey Rosen of Wolfire
- Jonathan Blow of Number None
- Markus Nigrin of The Pocket Cyclone
- Martin Pichlmair of Broken Rules
- Matt Gilgenbach of 24 Caret Games
- Peter Jones of Retro Affect
- Rob Jagnow of Lazy 8 Studios
- Ron Carmel of 2DBoy
- Scott Macmillan of Macguffin Games
- Steve Swink of Enemy Airship
Twitter tag: #gamelength