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Subject: The trend that shorter game time = better concerns me rss

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Edward Uhler
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I have a lot of time during my work day to listen to various podcasts, most of which happen to be about our great hobby. But I'm noticing a trend that concerns/bothers/worries/fillintherightwordhere me: The trend is that shorter games = better. Or, another way to put it, many folks are lamenting playtimes that exceed 60-90 minutes.

Now, I get that some folks have obligations that we do not have (read: kids), but I'm a bit alarmed at how many publishers & designers are pushing short playtimes as a key feature. Don't even get me started on 'micro-games'....

Boardgaming is a hobby that we (the missus and I) make the effort to make time for. We like heavy, deep, brain-burning games that can go 3+ hours (not even bringing up other stupendous games like Advanced Civilization or 18OE: On the Rails of the Orient Express that are 8-15 hours). Yes, thankfully, there are still plenty of those being designed, but the trend of shorter = better worries me in that, in the future, the longer, heavier games will be few and far between and that games that "have lots of decisions packed into those 45 minutes" will be the rule.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill or are others noticing this? And if the latter, does it concern anyone else?
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eapeas wrote:


Am I making a mountain out of a molehill or are others noticing this? And if the latter, does it concern anyone else?


Not alone.
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I generally think most games should play in under 4 hours. I only have a few in my collection that take longer and I find those games exceptional. I find that board games that play in 30 minutes or less disinterest me as there's often not enough time to interact with the game to make it meaningful (abstracts aside).

I think the 45 minute mark is great for card games, which is really a whole different level of technology. Look at games like Magic, Race for the Galaxy and Netrunner. All play around 45 or less, and all offer rich gameplay and exceptional replayability.
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Vinter Benson
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I absolutely love spending a long time playing anything. This is an troubling trend indeed!
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Podcasts want to reach out to a large audience (relatively speaking) so it seems logical to me that more popular games get more attention.
then there are a lot of people who game with others whom you wouldn't call "gamers" so they want something easy, quick and fun. While you (and I) want a game that requires some thought, planning and a break for dinner, then a few more turns until it's bedtime. (my last long game was Here I stand it went from 1230 to 2200 and I'd play it again tommorrow if my buddies were up to it, they want but haven't got time )
just remember that you are not alone, but you probably are outnumbered
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Michael Carter
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As people push for board games to become more mainstream game times will get shorter. Only hobbyists want to play a game that takes all day to play. This is why I don't really care if the hobby gets mainstream appeal or not.
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Does it concern me? Well, not so much.

Does it disappoint me? Yes. Yes it does. And frankly, I don't even understand it. Because most people who say it aren't saying it because they only have an hour at lunch or whatever. They're playing for 4-6 hours. They just feel the need to play 4 games in those 4-6 hours instead of just 1. It would be like saying you don't want a pound of the best steak because you could get 1/4 pound of that steak and 1/4 pound of pork chop and 1/4 pound of lobster tail and 1/4 pound of chicken breast. But what if you really like steak?! You're doing the same activity. You're still playing game(s) that you presumably enjoy. The need to cleanse the palate on an hourly basis is just nonsensical to me.

Not to mention, there are really good long games. There are games where the strategy can't be enacted in a 90-minute timeframe. Or at least, they provide a different tempo and experience than the shorter games. So even if you like and enjoy the 60-minute ones, why can't you mix it up with the longer experiences?

The whole thing just befuddles me.
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Boss Beau Blasterfire
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I would love to be able to play deeper games that last longer than 1 to 2 hours, but realistically it just doesn't work for me. Because of time constraints, I generally have to opt for games with shorter play times. I don't think they are necessarily better, they just have a better chance of getting played is all.
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Edward Uhler
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schwarzott wrote:
I generally think most games should play in under 4 hours. I only have a few in my collection that take longer and I find those games exceptional. I find that board games that play in 30 minutes or less disinterest me as there's often not enough time to interact with the game to make it meaningful (abstracts aside).

I think the 45 minute mark is great for card games, which is really a whole different level of technology. Look at games like Magic, Race for the Galaxy and Netrunner. All play around 45 or less, and all offer rich gameplay and exceptional replayability.


Oh, don't get me wrong, I agree that most games should finish in under 4 hours. Also, I completely agree that there are some FANTASTIC games that come in at under and hour.

But when I keep hearing that a game lasts 2-2.5 hours and *gasp* 'that is just too long', I die a little inside.
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Jesse Hickle
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Long does not necessarily mean great. I've played long games that I loved, but I've also wasted hours of my life on single games when I wished I could be playing other things. And sometimes I would rather be playing shorter games, so I'm glad there are lots of options out there.
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asutbone wrote:
Long does not necessarily mean great. I've played long games that I loved, but I've also wasted hours of my life on single games when I wished I could be playing other things. And sometimes I would rather be playing shorter games, so I'm glad there are lots of options out there.

This really isn't the issue. It's more the issue that it seems like more people are adopting the stance that long* means unplayable. They don't even get to the merits of what is a good game versus a bad game or worth the time or what have you. They just shirk like a vampire from a crucifix.


* Long being any playing time > 2 hours
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Recent games: TM, Mage Knight, Eclipse.

I think there are still enough Brainburner out there for us.
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Besides the difficulty of finding the time to play, my issue with very long games is that I rarely feel like I am having more fun than if I had played a shorter game. The longer the game, the more exceptional it needs to be in order for me to feel as if my time is being well spent.

I played Dominant Species recently and really enjoyed it, but I was glad when the game finally ended. I played TI3 recently and felt like it wasn't any more fun than Dominant Species, but it took double the amount of time. I look forward to my next game of Dominant Species, but I am unsure whether I will play TI3 again.
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I enjoy a good long game as much as the next guy.

But if I can get the same level of enjoyment out of a game that lasts half as long, why not play that instead?

It really does depend on individual circumstances. I've got three kids and a fourth on the way. There's just no time for all-day epics anymore.

But one day...
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mlcarter815 wrote:
As people push for board games to become more mainstream game times will get shorter. Only hobbyists want to play a game that takes all day to play. This is why I don't really care if the hobby gets mainstream appeal or not.


Is this people pushing for mainstream acceptance, or publishers looking for maximum return on their investment? The 'casual' market is always going to be where the biggest customer base, and therefore the biggest potential rewards, lie.

I think of it in terms of the number of World of Warcraft (7+M) accounts compared to Farmville (265+M) accounts.
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Drew Thomson
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terraform wrote:
Besides the difficulty of finding the time to play, my issue with very long games is that I rarely feel like I am having more fun than if I had played a shorter game. The longer the game, the more exceptional it needs to be in order for me to feel as if my time is being well spent.


I agree completely.
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Chad S.
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I agree with your concern.

Isn't the point of doing something enjoyable to actually do it? Isn't more of a good thing better than less?

It just seems that life is getting so fast-paced that people don't want to devote too much time to any one thing. That's a shame.

-

For me personally, I normally earmark an afternoon or an evening (so, 4-6 hours) for game sessions. We do play games that end quicker than that, in which case we play another short game or play the same one again.

Games like Twilight Imperium generally take longer than that (about 6-10 hours with our group). We still love playing it, but it doesn't get as much table time due to everyone's schedules.

But I can't imagine 60-90 minutes being all you spend for a game session. When I see people complain about games that are longer than an hour, I just roll my eyes.
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terraform wrote:
I played Dominant Species recently and really enjoyed it, but I was glad when the game finally ended. I played TI3 recently and felt like it wasn't any more fun than Dominant Species, but it took double the amount of time. I look forward to my next game of Dominant Species, but I am unsure whether I will play TI3 again.

Dominant Species is worth its playing time. TI3 rarely is. But I even have a hard time people getting to play DS. When they hear potentially 4+ hours, they run away. In my mind, it's a perfect example of what this thread is about.
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Michael Carter
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sdrewthomson wrote:
I enjoy a good long game as much as the next guy.

But if I can get the same level of enjoyment out of a game that lasts half as long, why not play that instead?

It really does depend on individual circumstances. I've got three kids and a fourth on the way. There's just no time for all-day epics anymore.

But one day...


Many of us would argue that you can't get the same level of enjoyment out of a short game that you can out of a long game. They provide two completely different types of experiences.

Quote:
Is this people pushing for mainstream acceptance, or publishers looking for maximum return on their investment? The 'casual' market is always going to be where the biggest customer base, and therefore the biggest potential rewards, lie.

I think of it in terms of the number of World of Warcraft (7+M) accounts compared to Farmville (265+M) accounts.


Both. As people push for mainstream acceptance and we increase the number of casual gamers, which comes with the mainstream, then we will see publishers targeting that larger new casual demographic and we will see the dilution that video games have seen.
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Michael Carter
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Mat628 wrote:
terraform wrote:
I played Dominant Species recently and really enjoyed it, but I was glad when the game finally ended. I played TI3 recently and felt like it wasn't any more fun than Dominant Species, but it took double the amount of time. I look forward to my next game of Dominant Species, but I am unsure whether I will play TI3 again.

Dominant Species is worth its playing time. TI3 rarely is. But I even have a hard time people getting to play DS. When they hear potentially 4+ hours, they run away. In my mind, it's a perfect example of what this thread is about.


DS is too chaotic for its 4+ hour play time.
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The trend of shorter games is to be more accessibility. The longer the game, the tougher it is to get to the table.

Most non-gamers and casual gamers will have no interest in playing games over 90 (or even 60 minutes).

For us gamers, there are several reasons why I also prefer this practice:

1) Many times I'm gaming with non or casual gamers and want these games played;
2) I have a wife, baby, pets, house, job, other social activities, as do most of my friends, so coordinating a two to five hour block for one game is extremely difficult and rare;
3) Most of my gaming sessions have many people coming and going, where many gamess are played, thus games exceeding two hours is difficult for people coming and going.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to sit down and play Axis and Allies or Descent all afternoon, however they and their ilk are often not practical to get to the table.

I wonder if there is a correlation between game length and game sales.
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terraform wrote:
Besides the difficulty of finding the time to play, my issue with very long games is that I rarely feel like I am having more fun than if I had played a shorter game. The longer the game, the more exceptional it needs to be in order for me to feel as if my time is being well spent.

I played Dominant Species recently and really enjoyed it, but I was glad when the game finally ended. I played TI3 recently and felt like it wasn't any more fun than Dominant Species, but it took double the amount of time. I look forward to my next game of Dominant Species, but I am unsure whether I will play TI3 again.

yes, you nailed it with this.
the amount of decisions and consequenses of your actions in DS are more apparent than in TI3 where dice can just ruin your nigh invulnerable attackfleet. (and where you lose because some dude has just the required amount of stuff to spend to nick that last objective.
Games like Dominant Species, Here I Stand or High Frontier can take a lot of hours but you're always involved in it, where there have been turns in 6-player TI3 that I was waiting for the others to finish shooting each other to bits just so I could produce two or three ships and then wait another 15 minutes to say pass
and don't get me started on playing Runebound (Second Edition) with more than two.
Long games can be more enjoyable than short ones but you need the right game and more importantly the right gamers even more than with a short game.
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I'm not worried, I welcome new games that are intense and to the point and take anything from 15 minutes to an hour to play.

We play 2-hour games like Core Worlds, we play 2-3h hour games like BSG, and we play an occasional Android (4+ hours), but because people prefer and love slightly different games, it is better to play four one-hour games than a single 4-hour game. Everyone gets to play one of their favorite games this way.

Also, coming up and developing strategies is much easier, if you can play a game three times in a row instead of once a week.

Long games are not going away, you just have more options now.
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It depends how much time I actually spend making decisions. In a ridiculously long game like TI I spend about 5 minutes out of every 20 actually making decisions, and the rest of the time watching other players make decisions snore

So in a game that lasts 8 hours, I'm only engaged 2 hours of the time. soblue

I'd rather play a 2-hour game where I'm engaged the whole time, and save myself 6 hours for doing something else, like maybe 3 more 2-hour games

In short, sometimes a long game is just a long game. Are you the kind of person who willingly takes 1 hour to slowly do a chore you could do in 20 minutes if you hustled? Or maybe crammed 4 years of college into 5? (kidding of course)

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I'm just happy about the increasing choices in gaming.
Back in the day, you really had to wade into a big honkin' game that took a lot of setup, a lot of rulebook reading, and a lot of time investment. The best thing is you don't need to spend that time anymore. But you can if you want!

Look at wargaming:
Once upon a time you had to be a fairly committed sort to engage in the typical wargame. Avalon Hill games that weighed more than an encyclopedia were a daunting task for the masses. But just in the last decade we've got Commands & Colors, Memoir '44, Manoeuvre, Conflict Of Heroes, Band Of Brothers, and many others that allow people to play wargames without the necessity of being the crusty old grognard that devotes entire weekends just to reading rulebooks, absorbing scenarios, and clipping counters. You could play a lifetime of wargames and never have to be tossed into something that takes 16 hours over 4 days and a Ph.D in military history to decipher.

So choice is good!
4-hour games aren't going away anytime soon.

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