Making A First Impression In Video Games: 30 Minutes Or Else
How long are you willing to wait until a game becomes enjoyable?
"[Insert game title here] gets really good ten hours in."
I see this on message boards and comments sections, mostly in reference to Japanese role-playing games, and it sounds ridiculous every time. Ten hours of my life wasted playing total garbage until that magical moment around the 10:01 mark, when this atrocious experience transitions to an epiphany. Ah yes, there it is. $59.99 well spent.
Like any form of entertainment, consumers spend too much time justifying their bad purchases. This is one (emphasis on "one") reason why they go bat shit after seeing a negative review of a game they recently picked up. It has less to do with the critique itself and more to do with the harsh realization that they made the wrong choice and flushed their money down the toilet.
Granted, this doesn't apply to everyone. Some are just passionate about their games, and that's perfectly fine, but it does bring up a question I've often wondered, that being...
Should a video game be enjoyable from the beginning?
My answer is a resounding yes. Similar to books and movies, you need to open strong and finish stronger. Super Mario 3D Land, for example, is great from beginning to end. On the console side, the same can be said of Mass Effect 2. The best game designers are not only aware of this, but know how to execute. The rest stumble around hoping to have epiphanies of their own.
In most cases, I give a 3DS/Vita game a good 30 minutes to grab my attention, and for smart phone games, it's considerably less, more like five to ten minutes. After that, my eyes start to glaze over, I begin fumbling around and there may even be a yawn or two.
To be clear, I continue playing past those precious minutes for reviews, but I do so with increased skepticism. First impressions matter. Cliche, yet true.
Ten hours? You know what I could do in that amount of time? Beat one much shorter Xbox 360 game, and get at least halfway through a second.
Obviously, everyone's entitled to do what they want in as much time as they wish. I'm cool with that, but to say a game improves at the ten hour mark (or five...hell, even two) makes little to no sense unless you're seven-years-old and have no responsibilities whatsoever. Me? I have things to do.
You have 30 minutes.