Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Is it important to pace yourself when you play huge games?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., and the three-day break provides an opportunity to dig into big games that demand a long attention span. Maybe you’ll use the long weekend to revisit that forgotten Skyrim quest or to undertake some grand Minecraft project. I’ll be tucking into Watch Dogs, the upcoming open-world action game from Ubisoft. The timing couldn’t be better.

But I have a problem with vast games like Watch Dogs: I get too excited about them and burn myself out. I love poking around in an open world to see how deeply the detail goes. Side quests? I love those, too. The more superfluous, the better. And if there’s some sort of territory-liberation sub-game—like the Borgia towers you’re invited to raze in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood—I’ll obsess over it until all enemy influence has been cleared, and the map reflects my utter dominance.


And then I come down from the high, and I tire of the game something fierce. There’s a reason, for instance, that I referenced a long-ignored Skyrim save file up top. I still have much to explore in that game, but it’s hard to recapture that initial enthusiasm. This is a common affliction, and it’s not the worst thing—after all, it’s not like Bethesda expects us all to explore every inch of Skyrim.

Yet I wonder whether I’d have been able to appreciate more of the game if I’d managed my playing time more judiciously. On the other hand, getting lost in the simulation is a big part of the appeal in these virtual worlds, and because of that, I hesitate to pull myself out when when I’m under a game’s spell. So in addition to sharing your weekend plans in the comments, I’d like to know: How do you “pace yourself” in a huge game? Do you even bother? And have you ever soured yourself on a great game by trying to bite off too much at once?

Play hard this weekend, but remember to take a break once in a while. Or not.

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