Daily Reaction: The Value of Gaming – How Much Is Your Time Worth?

May 11, 2015 Written by Dan Oravasaari

Playing the Clock

Over the years we have been seeing a shift in the expectations gamers are having for what can constitute an appropriate amount of content for a game to release at full price. This is why today’s Daily Reaction will be about the value of an experience, and what that means on a monetary level.

Dan: This is one of the more interesting topics I have been reading and thinking about, as I find that a significant number of gamers quantify the value of something based solely on abstractly perceived numbers. If a game is over a hundred hours long, does that intrinsically make it worth more than something that is only 5 or 6 hours long?

I think this really comes down to how much you value your time, over how much time you are simply looking to invest. Some gamers will have an almost endless amount of time to expend, so quality isn’t as much of a priority as its ability to give them something to do. This probably is something that is linked more to younger gamers, who also have a more limited ability to fund their hobbies, so each purchase has a greater footprint than it would for older gamers, who have money, but not the time.

A great example of this is a game like The Order 1886 which received a significant amount of blowback simply due to the game being able to be completed in an average of around 7 hours, which isn’t short by any means for a game of that genre. This is probably due to its heavy usage of cinematics, but that ties into how we equate the value of the story that unfolded.

Personally, as an adult who can afford more games than they have time to play them, the ability to find something that is of substance is much more interesting than something that can take up all of my time. This is why games like Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls are fantastic experiences that offer a deeper investment without too much exposition, much like a movie, but with the interactive narrative that only video games can give.

Looking at this discussion, I do wonder how each person places value in the types of experiences they are offered, and if more often than not, they don’t always seek out those types of games. If someone places more value in the social interactions of a game than they do than its story, would they be more likely to complain about a game not offering multiplayer? This is where I think the usage of the word entitled starts to come into play, as far too many gamers feel that every product should be designed for them, as they fail to rationalize that they don’t exist in a bubble.

With the expansion of the games industry, and the significant number of new gamers joining the population, there really is a market, whether big or small, for every type of game. This means that some games will simply not match up with everyone else’s expectations, and quite frankly, they shouldn’t. To experience something new should also come with some level of understanding, as you really need to understand what something is doing, before you can truly experience it.

So if you are really into multiplayer games, don’t complain when a game comes out and doesn’t have it. If you want your experiences to last hundreds of hours, don’t pick up a short narrative without exposition. We all set our values differently, and while some games may not be worth your time or monetary investment, they may very well be worth someone else’s.

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Chandler: One of the lines that I can’t stand seeing in a review is anything based on price. Saying that a game has value because it’s only $20, or saying it’s not a good game for $60 isn’t a review. People place value in monetary amounts very differently, and even value certain things very differently. Sports games aren’t worth anything to me. $60, $20, $5 — they aren’t even worth the time or space on my shelf. Racing games might be worth it at a discounted price, but I would be hard pressed to see myself paying out full retail for a racer. See what I’m getting at here?

There’s also the matter of different people placing different value in dollar amounts. For some, $60 is a massive amount of money and they cannot take a chance that a game’s not going to be great, so a lot more value gets placed in wanting a full and working game out of the box. For this reason, it is understandable that people may be upset about DLC add-ons and games with broken elements at launch. For others, money is not as much of a concern, so they are willing to look past the little problems or the cost of DLC add-ons. It’s the difference between feeling that you have an incomplete experience or an experience that can simple be enhanced.

I like that you talked about time Dan. Time is money, and value should be placed in the time spent playing a game, and the enjoyment of that time. Some games could grind hundreds of hours, but may not offer enjoyment. On the other hand, some games could be completed in a matter of hours, but offer immense enjoyment that people place high value in. The opposite holds true too. Many hours of fun can be had in games that don’t seem to offer any, and short games can be completely worthless. It really depends on the person.

And that’s really the critical culmination of all of this. Personal value varies from person to person. Take Mortal Kombat X for example. The value of the game, additional fighters and additional costumes is going to vary from me, to you, and even to the developers. That’s right, I’m even bringing the creators of the product into this.

Someone has put a lot of work into creating a product that they are putting out there.There is a value in all things. Perhaps not to you. Perhaps not to me. But to someone, that work has a meaning.  Is a Mortal Kombat character worth the price? Is that game worth $60? Is an add-on worth the cost of entry? There may be hidden costs or efforts that go into a game that we do not see. It’s something that we all need to keep in mind as we judge the cost of a work instead of expecting something for nothing based on our surface judgments of “value.”

Where do you draw your lines for the value of a game? Is any length too short if it was a solid experience? Let us know in the comments below, or follow us on Twitter @Foolsjoker and @Finchstrife, or even shoot us a longer message at DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net

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