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Does A Game Need To Grab You In the First 15 Minutes?


Gamers have it pretty good nowadays. Between Steam’s outrageous sales that border on the insane, free quality mobile game titles, and stellar consoles games routinely dipping below the $40 mark less than a month after launch, there is plenty to keep us occupied. But sadly with such a plentiful bounty comes the fact that most of these games will remain unfinished.

It’s a routine I’m certain most gamers are familiar with: pop in a game from your ever-growing backlog, play for a bit, and then move on the moment the game becomes even the slightest bit boring or frustrating. These are games that would otherwise provide you with countless hours of fun and entertainment but merely got off to a rough start and lacked that certain something to hold on to your attention, to give you a reason to keep playing. It’s frankly a puzzling phenomena considering how even some of our most cherished and praise-worthy gaming experiences are far from perfect.

Just recently with Halo 4 – my current videogame love interest – I noticed some segments that I could have done without: “What are we doing on this mission, Cortana?We have to press a button? Okay, cool.” And don’t get me started on dealing with a Promethean Knight teleporting behind you for a deathblow; that just about defines frustration.

So then why is it that some games gobble up thousands of hours of our collective lives while others only feel the touch of a disc tray only once? The answer is the first 15 minutes.

As it turns out, there is way too much to play. And those first 15 minutes are crucial in deciding if a game should be played or go back to its box never to be heard from again. For mobile games, the amount of patience we have is even less. How many times have you downloaded a fresh app onto your phone because it was free or on sale, played a round or two, and then quickly deleted it?

Generally, the first 15 minutes of a game consist of a cutscene or two and an introduction to its core mechanics. Although you may end up playing the game for an hour or two, if something doesn’t grab you early on chances are that you will not end up finishing the game. It could be a unique art style or perhaps strong writing. Maybe its the soundtrack. Or if you’re anything like me, you might be a sucker for character customization options; I must have spent at least 15 minutes deciding between Vanguard and Adept in Mass Effect (Fun Fact:  I went Vanguard and never looked back) and that was enough to hold my attention and create an experience that I was invested in right from the start.

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