Spending Time

The Order: 1886 is supposedly a short game. Five and a half hours was the first number to come out but thus far I haven’t seen anything higher than seven. Honestly, after being on the fence about picking it up anyway this information helped me finally decide. £45 for somewhere around 6 hours? Yeah, I’ll have that.

Now don’t get me wrong, £45 is a lot of money for 6 hours. It even goes against my own personal rule of thumb about buying things, that rule being I’m willing to happily spend £5 for every hour of entertainment I’m going to get out of a product, give or take. For example I’ll drop £15 on a blu-ray knowing I’ll watch it at least twice, thus getting at least £5 an hour out of it. Games nearly always beat this soft limit as well. £40 means just 8 hours and I can class it as worth it. That’s just me though, I’m a man with few major bills, no debt, and more than adequate disposable income. This imaginary value limit will vary for different people, but this £5/hr is mine. Yet here I am, buying something I’ll probably play once at 6 hours, for £45.

This is the point I realised that my limit wasn’t what I was using anymore. I was using something entirely new. I was judging a purchase on whether or not I would now have the time to actually enjoy it.

Yes, I may be a man with disposable income, but this is the effect of something else. I am employed full time. I work 0830 to 1700, give or take 30 minutes. I commute to and from work, taking up even more of my time during the day. I work every other weekend. In my time off I have to go look after the house or the car, go shopping, go to the bank, post office, visit family and friends, and somewhere find time to remember to wear trousers in the morning.

Though there are worse deadlines than remembering one's trousers...
Though there are worse deadlines than remembering one’s trousers…

My time I have that I am able to spend on video games has dwindled so drastically that I now feel guilty for managing to get a single character to Level 31 in Destiny. This isn’t even the maximum possible level, but the time I’ve spent to get there is time I could have spent elsewhere. I could have finished a game like The Order several times over in that time. And this is where I reach my point with this article.

I have come to the realisation that time is in fact a currency. Outside of the time we convert into actual money (with a hopefully high exchange rate) we can spend it however we want, but we can never make it. It doesn’t earn interest, and we can’t exchange money back into time.

This is why I am now more interested in shorter games, and why they can be considered as more valuable. I’ve already spent time to make the money to buy the game, I’m not convinced I want to spend even more time to actually enjoy it.

Gone are the days I can justify 20 hours in Final Fantasy XIII because “it gets better”. Gone are the days I can dump into EVE Online to get a slightly better ship for mining. Now I want to be able to spend a few hours of downtime between other things on a weekend off to see a story through start to finish.

This is the point I am at in my life. I have the money and the energy, I just don’t have the time. I wish I could replay all three Mass Effects, I wish I could sink enough time into Dragon Age Inquisition to see its story play out, I REALLY wish I could look forward to sitting down with The Phantom Pain and teasing out every rank and secret. But alas…

So next time someone somewhere criticises a game’s length, just spare a thought for us that see that as a positive. We can see something through, without having to spend the time.

£45 is still a lot though.


One response to “Spending Time”

  1. waywardcloud avatar

    Nice piece Shaun. I agree. I thought I was going to have a bit more spare time when i started a PhD but between reading, writing, panicing about reading & writing and maintaining my body’s vital functions, i somehow seem to use it all up. I’m sure i speak for many of us when i say that I’m glad you find the time to put your trousers on though…

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