The modern world is growing ever faster and with it is the trend for speedy gaming. Whereas it used to be most gamers’ preference to sit down for a good couple of hours’ session on their favorite console game, with the rise of portable gaming, people are often choosing to play on the fly. This has lead to frequently interrupted gameplay and quick 2-minute sessions between trains being far more commonplace. Why has this occurred and what are gaming companies doing to address this new need?
Warp Speed World
Although it sometimes seems like it, the world isn’t actually speeding up, it’s just that we’re getting rapidly worse at concentrating. Research from the Technical University of Denmark suggests that our attention span is narrowing on a global scale. There are, of course, a myriad of reasons for this, but one of them is our constant bombardment with new information. This idea of constant novelty has lead to a quantifiable decrease in attention span. One of the results of the study showed that in 2013 a global Twitter trend would last on average for 17.5 hours, compared to nowadays when it lasts 11.9. In such a short space of time, this shift is remarkable. In terms of gaming, this means that our want to skip ahead, seek new challenges and move between games is ever increasing.
Making Skipping Ahead Simpler
Poker in the physical realm can often be quite a drawn-out process; players spend a long time trying to work out each other’s cues and tells. In the mobile world, however, several companies have realized that people don’t always want it to be and therefore, it doesn’t have to be. PokerStars recently released its Zoom feature, which allows players to skip through the remainder of the game after seeing their cards. This is a simple fix, that allows players to spend some time figuring out their options if they want to or to skip through quickly when they don’t have the luxury of time.
Increasing Novelty Value
One of the methods that gaming companies are using to keep our attention for longer is increasing the feeling of novelty. As mentioned before, one of the reasons for our desire for quick play games is that we are becoming used to seeing new information more and more frequently. So, if you can provide new content more frequently, then it stands to reason that people will spend longer on your game. Pokémon is one such company who are masters of capturing novelty. Although the main gameplay aspect of all of their games is the Pokémon battle, this feature on its own would quickly become tiresome. Realizing this, the company gave players the ability to collect, initially, 150 different magical creatures, some easy to find, some much harder. As a result, people will happily play through battle after battle, searching for the elusive rare Pokemon. All the time that they are doing this, they are building up what is known as a ‘teddy bear’ effect with the Pokémon used most often, in that players develop a connection with them. This connection, teamed with the promise of novelty, is what keeps us playing a fantastically simple game for such long periods of time. With each release of the game, new Pokémon and new features such as virtual reality are released, keeping that same anticipation of the unknown high.
Breaking the Rules
Another quick play game that is wildly popular is Subway Surfers. This game allows you to ‘surf’ on the top of subway trains, collecting points along the way. This game is the perfect format for quick play fans, as you can pause at any time. However, one thing that is interesting is that, despite its quick play format, many users can spend literally hours on it. But why? One of the great things about gaming is that there’s no punishment for breaking (most of) the rules. If you were to surf the subway trains in real life, you could seriously injure yourself, or risk imprisonment. However, in this game, there’s none of that real-life worry. Players can rebel against authority without any real threat of punishment – that is, of course, unless the in-game policeman happens to catch up with you! This heady mixture of safety and risk comes together to create a game that is endlessly playable. It seems that many of the attributes that make up a quick play game are, in fact, just the things that keep us playing them for longer.