Thursday, July 21, 2011

Am I Bored, Or Is This Just Too Long

As I get older, I've noticed my taste for entertainment has changed, but I'm not sure what aspect has changed. Have I grown impatient of longer form entertainment, or do I just lust for more diverse entertainment options?

I've been reading Game of Thrones lately, George R. R. Martin's epic modern fantasy novel. The book is the first in a long series of book called the Song of Ice and Fire and has recently been adapted into an HBO show. The book is a monstrous 800 pages in paperback form. I suppose for a fantasy novel that is probably normal, but for someone that hasn't read a true fantasy epic in a while it seems a bit much.

I've also recently started up playing Fallout: New Vegas on my PC. The game comes with rave reviews and has a spiritual ancestor in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which is at the top of my favorite video games list. Both Oblivion and New Vegas feature huge, vast open worlds each with more than 60 hours of gameplay, and that's at the low end of game time.

With both Game of Thrones and Fallout, I've jumped head first into the venture with a lot of anticipation and excitement. I've been loving watching the HBO adaptation (we haven't finished it yet) of GoT, and I adore the idea of a post-apocalyptic spin on the Oblivion-style gameplay with updated mechanics that Fallout offers. But in both cases, I'm wondering if I didn't bite off a bit more than I care to chew with regard to the time commitment it'll take to finish them.

It's not that I'm not enjoying reading and playing. Both are fascinating and very well done. Each time I crack open the book or fire up the game, I'm enthralled by the world presented to me. But when I step away from them because I'm getting off the bus or because diner is ready or it's time for bed, I'm left wondering if I'll ever reach the end of these gynormous adventures.

That feeling, for me, is both awe-inspiring and annoying all at once.

When I was younger, I can remember burying myself in the Lord of the Rings books and relishing every moment of their often-times dense text, regardless of how long it took me to read through them. I can recall racing home from class in college to figure out what was going to happen to Yuna next in Final Fantasy X, or even coming home from work a few years later and not being bothered at all by losing my entire evening and even some of my scheduled sleep hours to dungeon crawling in Oblivion. I enjoyed the time I spent in those worlds and I did not once think that I was missing out on something else.

Now though, as I read Game of Thrones or fire up New Vegas, I find myself wondering what else is going on that I'm missing. I'm not enjoying the time spent any less, but I'm wondering if I'm cutting myself short on other experiences. I know that I can tear through the new Sookie Stackhouse book in less than a week and that I can blow through a game like Dungeon Siege 3 in less than 15 hours of game time, which then allows me to move on to something else, some new experience.

But I can't say that I enjoy those experiences as much as I enjoy what I'm reading and playing now. I like them, and they are fun, but not quite as deep and rewarding. Which makes me wonder if I'm just becoming impatient. I need the reward of completing, of knowing I've finished X books/games this year and I liked them, even if saying I've completed (X-5) books/games and I LOVED them seems like the wiser thing to do with my free time.

So I can't really tell if my tastes are changing because I want to have more and varied entertainment options at the expense of better or more rewarding options, or if I just bore easier with longer-form entertainment now that I'm older. /sigh...

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