The Joy of Not Finishing

There is something about finishing a game which is amazing you get the satisfaction and sense of achievement of completing a challenge plus a resolution to the story you have been following for the last however many hours, but I think there is something to be said for not finishing them either with no urgency or maybe not at all.

I have a habit of not finishing games very quickly, in fact, I have games sitting there for years before I eventually get around to completing them and some I might never finish. I used to almost be ashamed by the fact I didn’t finish them because whenever anyone would ask about how the new game I got was going they would eventually ask did you complete it yet and when I said no a lot of people would go “oh ok so it’s not that good then”. But this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy those games, in fact, I adore some of them and have a huge amount of fun with them. Those games are just on hold, in my mind the story and adventure ready to be continued at any moment waiting for me to jump back in and get them resolved and that sense of potential is almost as good as the hype that you might get before a game is released.

Recently I have been thinking about this more and more as the amount of games I the opportunity to play at any given point has increased dramatically, with a huge library of physical games I have collected over the years for different consoles and now a massive digital library on Steam, PSN and Xbox Live just a download button away. In the past when digital downloads were starting to become commonplace I was limited by hard drive space and my slow internet connection, but now I see a game in my library I want to play I can get that downloaded in hardly any time and because I have access to cheaper storage options there is almost no need to uninstall games. With all this choice I find it hard to stay with one game for the length of time required to finish it, this is not to say that I can’t focus or lack the attention span to finish one game rather I see all the options available as an opportunity to direct my attention to a multitude of different games at once.

Part of it for me could be the fact I generally dislike endings across all media whether books, TV shows or games they very rarely end in a satisfactory way and often are just a set up to a sequel to be released in a year rather than offering a conclusion. I rarely finish a TV show when it is recent or if I do it’s only because I watch it with other people because if I like the characters and I don’t watch the end then in my mind they are still in the same place waiting for me to see how it ends in my own time. This isn’t to say I never finish them I just finish them when I am ready to have the story finish which might be a few years down the track but because I don’t rush to finish it the option to watch and enjoy new episodes is always there for me. For games, this means I always have the option to enjoy a new story with Geralt in The Witcher 3 or finally see what happens to Billie in her quest to kill the outsider in Dishonoured: Death of the Outsider. This also has the benefit of meaning sometimes when I get around to finishing the game a sequel has been released and I can’t immediately pick that up to continue the story. I am not making myself not play them but if I have other things to occupy my attention I just see no rush to get back to them.

This is not to say I don’t sometimes get so into a game I play it non-stop and end up finishing it over a weekend. Those are the games I always wish had one of my favourite features New Game+ (looking at you Prey) something which I think could be implemented in any genre of game.

You always hear people talk about how great it would be to re-read a favourite novel for the first time or watch an amazing novel for the first time and for me if I don’t finish these games then I will always have a new story with my favourite characters ready to go if I feel like revisiting their world.


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Games wonderful games. Games are ok.

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