The Long-Lasting Influence of Short Video Games

Big things come in small packages.

Every video game is a journey - a journey through unknown worlds and untouched lands, untold stories and unfamiliar characters, and unexpected feelings and unforgettable experiences. And as is so with journeys, some are long, while others are short. Generally, it is safe to say that the majority of us prefer the latter, as long journeys tend to take a lot out of us, both energy-wise and time-wise, while short journeys are convenient and gentle on our bodies and minds. One can then infer that this preference of ours applies to the interactive art form we call "video games" as well.

Short video games have been ridiculed by many outspoken gamers for being inefficient returns for investments of money. "They're too simple and brief to be immersive experiences," they say, "the longer the game is, the more time I have to understand it." Although it is true that understanding new information requires a certain amount of time, it is rather narrow to think that simplicity and brevity cannot create a fully immersive and coherent experience. A game that is complex and lengthy does not automatically amount to greatness; the portal to an immersive experience is created when every single feature complements each other.

Experiences that are short complement the schedules of arguably any person with responsibility. Experiences that are long require a person to go into a state of limbo where reality is momentarily forgotten and left to take care of itself. The loss of a large chunk of reality scares people away from an interactive art form such as video games, as the return is uncertain in spite of a hefty investment of time and energy. This is why short video games have so much power within; short journeys can lead to longer journeys if only the audience is cared for well.


Bryan is way more than a riddle, completely shrouded in countless mysteries, and sure as hell am not inside an enigma; he IS the enigma.

Published Jun. 1st 2015
  • Rhys Bjornsen_5219
    I agree. Just like written fiction has short stories as well as novels and multi-book epics, video games as genre has place for both short games, long games, and things in-between. All have their purpose.

    Right now, I am really enjoying 'Life is Strange', which drops in digestible chunks of 2-4 hours play time at a time. I can set aside an evening to play the latest 'Life is Strange' episode, and whether I like it or not, there will be some kind of closure at the end. At worst, short games don't outstay their welcome, at best, they keep you begging for more.

    In comparison: in FPS I often lower the difficulty towards the end because the game has nothing new to offer anymore, and the only reason I'm still playing is to see the Final Cutscene. Which is probably why I dislike most boss fights in games with a narrative: they are just getting in the way.

    On the other hand, I have no problem spending a year or three to play the heck out of a game like Skyrim. Those are experiences I walk in knowing full well that I'll be spending a long time with them. At the same time, these games don't suffer if I drop them for a month to play something else, to pick them up again later.
  • Bryan C. Tan
    They're just like snacks; they're way more accessible than whole meals and can be had anytime we wish. It's an important aspect of gaming that we ought to hold on to any way we can, or else we won't have a video game we can invest some of our hard-earned time in.
  • Autumn Fish
    Featured Correspondent
    I'm inclined to agree, I find a lot of shorter video games these days have some extraordinary content. Gone Home being one of my favorites in recent years.
  • Bryan C. Tan
    Short video games are becoming much more palatable to the majority of the population, so people should be praising them for bringing in people who don't usually play video games due to other commitments.
  • Fireboltz_7795
    Featured Contributor
    So clever of you to put the title of each of the three games in the article! All three games are amazing as well!
  • Bryan C. Tan
    Glad you noticed! :P I'm pretty sure any one of these three games can really change an average person's perspective on video games.

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