The will to game: Time is money

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There are thousands of games out there. It can be hard to tell which ones to sink your hard-earned cash or invest your time into. As a student, you might think that it is only wise to part with your cash for the best value, but the best value doesn’t necessarily mean the games with the longest playthrough times. Some of the best games are actually rather short, and let’s face it: if you’re a busy student maybe rather than getting pulled into all-night sessions of DotA or Starcraft, it would be better to play a short game with some bite. Short doesn’t mean bad, and a game’s length shouldn’t be a barrier to experiencing something great.

Think about your average film-going experience. Seeing a film in the theatre is going to cost you $10 to $15 for an experience of anywhere between one and a half to two hours. Put that in a gaming context and you will likely have a similar breakdown of time and money. You could pay upwards of $80 for a new blockbuster and get a solid 10 to 20 hours out of it, depending on your play style, but does that mean you should snub shorter games? They are more than worth your time and a bit of cash.

The best thing about short games is the same thing that is so great about films and books; they can be shared. No one wants to watch someone play 10-plus hours of shooting robots or managing economies, but sitting down with a few friends and creating a unique narrative that is shared can be very compelling. A great example of a short game with a fantastically great story is The Yawhg.

Taking up to four people, The Yawhg weaves a storybook-like tale of magic and the everyday as players go about their lives, counting down the weeks to the approach of the Yawhg. A bit like a choose-your-own-adventure, The Yawhg takes as little as 20 minutes to play, but even if played only once creates a rich narrative forged by the friends who share it.

The next time you are looking for something new, consider more than how much gameplay you will get out of it; also think about the experience that you will have playing it. Rather than grinding for loot, try getting a few friends together and going in on something you can all share. You might even get your non-gaming friends interested in the idea.

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