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VenusInFurs avatar 6:01 PM on 07.05.2011  (server time)
Why I like linear games

Iíve been without a current generation home console for almost a year now. During this year Iíve become a lover of handheld gaming. I finally bought myself an Xbox 360 four days ago, and Iím starting to regret my decision. Not because of the money I spent, but because of the possibility of me neglecting the console. There is nothing wrong with the 360, but with me. I simply cannot give console games my time and attention anymore. Well, most console games. Let me explain.

I sit, turn my 360 on, and begin to play Alan Wake. I beat the game in about five hours. The game is short, but it was exciting, original, scary, and most importantly linear. I greatly enjoyed the game, but I did struggle to play through it. My mind kept wondering, as if I had something else to do. What attracts me to handheld gaming is how I can play for 15 minutes, save, and then shut the system off. Alan Wake, while short and episodic in its presentation, was the perfect length for me.

Recently I played Fallout: New Vegas and while I did enjoy Fallout 3, New Vegas proved to be a bit too much for me. I played for about 10 hours and most of those 10 hours involved me walking around the wasteland. As I get older, I find myself reading and writing more often. My attention span has greatly expanded since I was a teenager, but this expansion did not reach my love of video games. Iím starting to detest any game longer than 12 hours. Like I said before, my attention span has improved greatly with age, but Iím not willing to give a game that much of my time anymore. It can be because Iím a young man in my twenties in school trying to balance the many hardships that life brings me, but I am noticing Iím not the only one to feel this way. Most of my friends complain of the same thing, too.

BioShock, Alan Wake, Shadow of The Colossus, Ico, and many others are games that offer a deep, emotional, and intellectual experience in a few short hours. This trend of condensing games is an act that is frown upon by many gamers. Most will say that a game must be of a particular length to justify its price tag, but Iím perfectly happy with a 4 Ė 12 hour experience.

To be honest, this kind of depresses me. Experiences like Mass Effect and Oblivion are games I love, but Iím getting nervous that I will not finish and enjoy a game like Skyrim. How can an improved version of Oblivion bore me? Well, this can all just be a phase Iím going through, but this phase has been with me for some time and Iím not seeing myself investing that much time into a video game anymore.

Linear games, for me, provide me with the essential experience I need from a video game: action and story. I can see the appeal of an open world game with choices and exploration, but the way things are going I donít think I can do it anymore. But there can be a remedy for it!

Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA 3) is the only GTA game I enjoyed and beat. GTA 3 is credited as being the first open world sandbox game, but compared to games nowadays its openness is laughable, but letís think about this for a moment. GTA 3 had a world that was perfect -- it was big enough to explore, but small enough to roam around and remember where everything is. The condensed world was a big attraction for me! Because its world was so small, it provided me with a world jam packed with activities and locals I cared about. The problem with most open world games is that I get bored easily. Maybe if games took the open world mechanic, but just condensed it, it would have made for more of an attractive world. Many games have a big open world for no other reason because they can. But if a game can make a small open world, and provide it with content worth exploring than maybe my interest will lighten up.

I don't know. Sometimes I think having a novice approach to game design is a good thing.

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