Video games are a form of media that focuses on staying power. Think about it for a moment. When you read a book you read it, and when you're done you usually either pass it on to a friend, re-sell/donate it, or toss it on a shelf to potentially read again somewhere down the road. With television shows you watch the whole series, and then probably somewhere along the road watch it again sometime. With films you may watch it many times if you really love it, but most you'll only see once. To be fair, some television shows can provide an obscene amount of entertainment time when you account for the whole series. But video games also provide something that all these other medias cannot and that's the aforementioned staying power.
Here's a great example. I pulled up my Steam library real quick to see what the current highest play time was in my library. Dreamfall Chapters popped right up to the top, with 51 hours on file. This isn't even the longest amount of time that I've sunk into a game; my console hours are even higher. When you account for MMOs, I know there are innumerable amounts of people who have spent literal years of playing time in-game. There's also the fact that replayability is a huge factor. I already put 51 hours into Dreamfall Chapters, but I want to go back and play the game again some time so that I can experience it all in one go. It was originally episodic, and I had to wait in between episodes to play it. A binge-play will give me a different outlook on the story.
This is true for many games. Take another title with a huge amount of staying power, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I've replayed it many a time, with different reasons each time. First, because I played it originally on the PlayStation 3, which frankly sucked. Then I wanted to try it on PlayStation 4. Finallyy, I'd really love to play it on PCs now that I have one that can run it. Another reason for wanting to try it again is DLC. I couldn't get my hands on it when it originally released, but now with the special edition, I can enjoy all the add-ons together. So there I go with another new save, and another new playthrough. This isn't a new concept. I'm not special in any way for this. Almost everyone does it, and that's the best part about video games. We spend the money that we do on it and then can have seemingly endless amounts of fun with it.
These games that have this intense level of staying power are those that have that replayability. Without that games tend to fizzle out rather quickly. If there is something like another ending, quest line, or set of objectives that you can't do in one go, it'll suck you back in. There's also the mod community. With the addition of more and more mods for games, we have reasons to go back to them. Now I can play Skyrim where all the female characters have Dead or Alive level boob physics? Uh, yeah! Sign me up. That sounds like another 40 hours of hilarity at the least.
Another factor that weighs heavily on video game staying power is nostalgia and popular culture transcendence. Pokemon games will forever do well, so long as the 90's kids survive. We absolute eat that up. I seriously don't care that I've played almost the exact same game dozens of times, I will always want the new Pokemon game. The Legend of Zelda is fairly similar. Even if there are entries to the franchise that are less than stellar, I will always think highly of it. The next one could be the next one that I fall head over heels in love with.
Let us celebrate the media that is video games. Let us remember that we are fortunate enough to love something that will fill our lives with hours upon hours of stellar entertainment. We can replay our favorite games over and over and still find things that we didn't the first handful of times. The titles that we've fallen in love with over and over again can keep continuing into eternity, if we're lucky.
What games do you think have the greatest staying power? Which title have you spent the most hours on, and how much time was it? Please let me know in the comments, as I'd love to hear your thoughts!