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Interactive video lesson plan for: In Defense of Short Games - Worth Every Dollar - Extra Credits

Activity overview:

Games can be only two or three hours long and still be worth every dollar charged for them. Stretching out playtime to meet an arbitrary goal doesn't make the game any better, but it would force developers to go over budget. Kneejerk reactions too often cause short games to get bad reviews even when they deliver on an excellent experience. (---More below)

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One of the most common critiques directed at short games, especially indie games, is that they would be better if they were "only" twice or three times as long. This criticism assumes that longer games would be better, but that isn't always the case. Look at Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy as an example: one book stretched to the length of the three movies wound up being a much less satisfying experience that ultimately wasted the audience's time and made the material weaker for it. And that was an ideal case, where the studio put plenty of money into production and the director put plenty of love into each film. For a developer, adding double or triple the content means they need to add just as much to the development budget, a luxury that indie studios often don't have. It also assumes that quality is determined by length, when sometimes the vision for a game may call specifically for a short but tightly controlled experience. The developers who make these short games face a variety of difficult challenges. There's the bad reviews that won't consider any game good if it's not 10 hours long, there's the Let's Plays which people decide to watch instead of buying the game, and there's the three hour return window on Steam which allows people to return the game after they finish playing it. Evaluating games in this way and pushing short ones out of the market limits the range of experiences we get to have as players, so it's important that we take steps to support and show that support for short games.

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