Games That Are Gigantic Time Sinks
You sit up from your couch which has now become a landfill of empty crisp packets and soda bottles. You hear the birds blissfully chirping away in search of food. Someone has started their car already, on their way to another monotonous grind in this daily hell of an existence. The sun is starting to rise. You rub your swelled up eyes and avoid the rogue beam of sunlight with all your might. Then you realise, goddamn did I play through the night? I hardly even did anything. I can tell you now, ladies and gentlemen, that I’ve experienced this phenomenon way more times than I’m proud of.
Time sink games are amazing. They can potentially keep you entertained for hundreds of hours and they can become so immersive that they become an addiction. I’m a huge fan of games such as these because they can keep me distracted from my crappy life and the crappy people around me for sustainable periods of time. Here are some games that might have cost us chunks of our lives or are the cause for why we will die at 30.
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The Elder Scrolls Games
Mainly Skyrim and Oblivion because those are the only two I have played. These games bring with them what every RPG nut loves. Gigantic amounts of exploration, be it dungeons, towns, sewers, castles, labyrinths and also monster killing, crafting, houses, progression etc. etc. Because there is such a vast amount of content on offer, you will naturally spend a lot of time trying to experience it all. Even with that, the aspect of just walking around and doing often pointless things still adds a sizable chunk of play time. I’ve jumped down waterfalls and hunted deer for hours in Skyrim and spent days meticulously decorating my house in Oblivion. Days of my life were lost to these games and I regret absolutely nothing.
Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas
See the above entry, but with a desolate wasteland instead. The two Fallout games provided an unparallel immersive experience (unless they freeze up and die). There’s something very soothing in just walking around the Capital Wasteland or the Mojave and just listening to classic 50s tunes and raiding bandit camps. You always wanted to explore more of this barren landscape and discover new and interesting places and meeting colourful characters. These games have a very special place to my heart because of how many hours I put into them. After a while the wasteland felt like my home, where I could do what I want and when I want.
Okay, I have admittedly no experience with this game whatsoever, but I know of quite a few people that religiously play it and some have become unhealthily addicted to it. The way I understand from observing the people that love this game is that there is no progression other than in-match upgrades and such, but you feel that compulsion to do better each time you play. That is a strong driver for how a game can consume most of your life. Honing your skills and then when you finally get good, you are a master among men. Even though I’ve never played it, I commend the game for giving gamers that drive to become better and better. Maybe some of you hardcore DotA players can help me out in the comment section by telling me what drives you to play this game for such exorbitant amounts of time.
Rock Band, Guitar Hero and more recently Rocksmith. Rhythm games have this power over you that you can’t properly describe. Once you get a tiny bit into them, you’re hooked. The same scenario happens like what happens in the above entry. You want to be the very best (that no-one ever was) and to do that, you have to practice your fingers to the bone and really hone your skills. I started off on Guitar Hero on Easy difficulty, struggling to hit even basic buttons, but after a few years of often constant practice, I was suddenly this amazing plastic guitarist capable of amazing feats. That then inspired me to get Rocksmith and then doing the real thing.
Throughout this process, the hours are ticking away. Hundreds of hours pass as you try and get your fingers to do the absolutely insane things that are shown on screen. Sometimes these sessions can go on for hours and even days. Your fingers might be on the verge of bleeding out, but you still want to carry on. Just one more song, one more solo to nail, one more change at that goddamn Dragonforce song. Like I said before, once the rhythm bug bites, you might as well forget it. You’re hooked.
Name your poison. Battlefield, Call of Duty what have you. From my experience, there are three things that make shooters incredibly addictive. First, is the progression system. You want to get XP and unlock better guns and have that large rank next to your name as a statement. Second, the desire to become proficient in what you’re doing. I’ve experienced that rush of being the best guy in the lobby because something tweaked in my head and suddenly made me better. It was an euphoric feeling that I could understand people could get addicted two. Third is that sense of community or just having some good chums that you frequently play with to unwind. It can make for quite an entertaining experience and something that you would like to carry on doing.
With those three things combined you have the ingredients of an addiction. I know of guys that have played 3000 hours of Battlefield 3 and some that claim to have played more. If anything, I’m stunned by their dedication. It’s funny how a room full of people shooting each other can become such a widespread phenomenon.
Games can be an addiction and there are some games that push this addiction further. Whether you love walking around aimlessly in a rich fantasy world or shooting people in the face, there is always something for you to pour all your time into. I’ve left out some other time sinks such as MMOs because I have no knowledge of them, so I implore you to comment on some of the addictions that you have.