For many years, I would play just one game at a time rather than having multiple games on the go that I could dip into. My thinking was that I had such limited time to play games (1-2 hours 3-5 nights a week), I couldn’t possibly try and play more than one game at a time. I’m not alone in this (as this post on Reddit would suggest) but have since evaluated my approach to great success.
As with many things in life, there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Sometimes you may want just one game on the go, other times you may want multiple games to play. In this article I’ll step through the advantage of each, and attempt to persuade you that more often or not, having multiple games going is the way to go.
Let’s start with the benefits of playing one at a time.
Why we often play just one game at a time
You can complete games quicker
A lot of gamers approach games with a completionist attitude. If you haven’t completed the game you’re playing, then it’s almost a travesty to move onto another title. This attitude can often lead to a real grind, as you can find yourself overplaying a game – either burning out on it or playing far longer than you really want to play, just to say that you completed it.
Feeling like you’re getting value for money
There are times when we buy a game that we think we’re going to play loads, but after a few sessions we realise that it’s just not as good as we thought it would be. Buyer’s remorse hits hard. The good thing about only playing one game at a time is that you force yourself to play the game that you’ve bought, so it’s not a total waste of money.
Get better, quicker
A great benefit of only playing one title at a time is how quickly you can climb that learning curve. If you’re super competitive then focusing on one game will help to work on your mastery of the mechanics. This is especially important if you play across multiple genres. If you only ever play first-person shooters, then there may at least be some transferrable skills between titles. But if you have varied tastes, then switching between an FPS, a driving sim and a real-time strategy game isn’t going to help you develop your skills.
Focus all of your attention on the story
People can sometimes get confused when switching between multiple story-driven games. If you only play one game at a time, then there’s less chance of you losing concentration and jumping to another game. It means you can get fully immersed in the story. If the title is good enough, this is a surefire way to lose a lot of your spare time (in a good way)!
We’re still having fun!
A more positive spin; why would you stop playing a game while you’re still having fun with it? If you’ve put 4,000 hours into The Sims 4 and are still enjoying that time, there’s little reason to spread your attention onto something else. It’s when that 4,001st hour feels like a drag that you may realise it’s time for a change or to diversify your interests.
Why we should play multiple games at one time
Sometimes making yourself stick with just one game can totally kill off your excitement for gaming. If it’s a choice between grinding through the same game you’ve been playing for months or doing the dishes, bizarrely, the marigolds start to look enticing. Here’s why you should just get over yourself and get stuck into another game.
Avoid burn out
There’s no need to keep playing the same game during each session. By putting that pressure on yourself to play that game until completion, you’re likely to suck out the joy of gaming and burn yourself out. Whether it’s the game mechanics, the characters or the settings, it can all become very tedious. By taking that break and playing something different, the idea to come back to the game at a later date will seem a lot more exciting.
Play a game to suit your mood
By creating these rules around gaming, it will start to feel like a chore. When you boot up your console, there will be a genre that suits your mood. Fancy a competitive game? Why not boot up something that you can play against other players. In the mood for something more laid back? Dig into your indie library that you’ve been meaning to get stuck into for ages.
When you allow yourself to switch games, it means you can play whatever suits your mood and you’re far more likely to enjoy it.
Savour the experience
Sometimes we’re super excited to play a game, but we play it so much that it’s over before we know it. This is even more likely if we only play that one game non-stop. By playing a variety of titles, we can savour the experience more by spreading it over a period of time.
For example, an epic RPG is much better played in stints of a few hours so that you can really get immersed in the story. There might be some nights where you can only fit an hour of gaming in, where such a game might be a bit of a waste. By the time you’ve really settled in, it’s time to log off. By having a range of games on the go, you can choose a title that you can enjoy at that point in time.
Explore other genres
The chances are you like more than one genre, and by forcing yourself to play only one game, you’re limiting your options. Often in life we have a moment of inspiration that sparks a desire to play a certain game. Maybe you’ve just watched an intense Formula 1 race and you really want to give the latest release a go. Or you’ve checked out the latest Lord of The Rings series and its now time to finally get round to playing Shadows of Mordor.
Sticking to one game kills off this spontaneity, but these moments are some of the most fun you can have playing games, when a title hits that sweet spot.
Where I’ve settled
Reddit user SonicFlash01 put it best in this Reddit post on the topic:
At the moment I’ve got Deathloop on the go, with Plague Tale Requiem ready to step up should I start to find it boring. I then have Slay the Spire, Rocket League and Vampire Survivors to fill in the rest of the time.
Ultimately, we’ve all been in the rabbit hole, where you’ve committed to completing a game and you tell yourself that you’re not moving on until you do it. You think that when you finally get there, you’ll feel this sense of achievement and it’ll all be worth it. But you’re actually denying yourself the enjoyment of playing the game you really want to play.
If this has helped you see things in a new light, then please share our work with others. Additionally, why not tell us all about it on Twitter? Alternatively, find some other ways to rediscover your love of gaming.