Some games can be finished, completed, defeated or beaten. They have an end-point, even though they might be replayable. Others have the potential to go on forever. Whatever the case, there always comes a point when you’re done with a game, and it might be long before the credits roll, or it might be after that one update that breaks a habit that has lasted for years. Why do we stop playing?
Let’s get one potential answer out of the way: ‘when we stop having fun’. While there’s definitely something to that idea, it doesn’t take into account temporary frustration caused by difficulty spikes, or the satisfaction – a related cousin of ‘fun’ – from seeing a narrative through to its end. It’s a sentiment that might work for multiplayer games, but I’m not convinced it can be applied more broadly than that. With a look at Shadow of War, Spelunky and Caveblazers among others, here are some thoughts on the end of play.