The Elder Scrolls V, Skyrim, video game, box art, book, cover, dragon, logo, icon

A gaming life sentence

If you could only play one game for the rest of your life, what would it be? That’s the question posed to us by Strange Girl Gaming as part of her nominations for the Sunshine Blogger award last month. A big thank you to her for choosing Later Levels and giving me the opportunity to ponder over this difficult conundrum, as well as publish the following musings in her honour.

One of the things I love most about video games is the variety. The term ‘non-gamer’ has become somewhat of a misnomer; there are so many different types of genres, styles, mechanics and platforms nowadays, that it’s highly likely everybody would find something they loved if they just gave it a chance. From open-world quest-packed RPGs to quieter, shorter adventure titles, there’s something to suit every individual.

That’s why choosing just one to play for the next sixty years is incredibly tough. It’s the same as ice-cream: regardless of how awesome the stuff is, wouldn’t we all get bored of eating it if the only type available was vanilla? It’s obvious I love the adventure genre but even I’d grow tired of it if that was the only thing I could play. You know what they say about variety being the spice of life: it keeps things interesting.

So to answer Strange Girl Gaming’s question, I need to pick a title that has plenty of elements so it was possible to mix things up every now and again. When I got bored of completing quests for example, I could head into the map and simply explore or go annoy the inhabitants in a nearest village to see what reactions I could get out of them. It would also need to be something with many hours of gameplay as a minimum.

I have to admit I’ve struggled with this challenge and it’s probably the hardest nomination question I’ve had to answer so far! I therefore haven’t been able to narrow it down to a single title and I’m torn between two. Which should I choose to fulfil my gaming needs for the rest of my years?

The Elder Scrolls, Skyrim, video game, warrior, dragon, mountains, snow

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a fairly obvious choice and one I’m sure many others would pick. There’s just so much to do within this game and every time you head out into the landscape, you always seem to find something new. Although I’ve completed many of the side-missions I’ve still not finished the main quest itself; and I’d have plenty of time to do it if this was the only game I was allowed to play.

Horizon Zero Dawn, video game, woman, warrior, Aloy, mountains, sky, photo mode, clouds

Horizon: Zero Dawn is the other option. As well as being an excellent title and one of the best of last year – and featuring a kickass female lead – it also includes an awesome photo-mode. I spent over 130 hours playing this game and I’d hazard a bet that around a third of those were due to me taking screenshots. Imagine the photo gallery I’d be able to build up over a 60-year period; that’s plenty of tweets right there.

The Secret of Monkey Island, video game, ghost, pirates, LeChuck, Guybrush Threepwood, root beer, grog machine, Stan's Previously Owned Vessels, boatyard

I’m guessing there are some readers who are surprised I didn’t go for The Secret of Monkey Island, the title which sealed my future as a gamer almost thirty years ago. I just couldn’t imagine this being the only game I was able to play despite adoring wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets. Adventures are all about their story and puzzles, and they lose their mystery once you know both inside-out.

Writing this post has made me realise that although I have my favourite games, they’re not releases I’d necessarily want to be the only ones I had access to for the rest of my life. And if that’s the case, is there ever truly such a thing as a ‘favourite’ title? That’s a big question for another time, and one I may attempt to answer in a future article.

Thank you once again to Strange Girl Gaming for the award nomination – you certainly gave me a lot to think about with this one! Which game would be your only one?

42 thoughts on “A gaming life sentence

    1. I remember this, my brother and I used to play it when we were kids! I don’t remember us ever completing it though… I guess it would give me something to aim for during the next few years. 😉

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  1. Ooh this is an interesting question! My choice would be Tekken. The reason is that even in 50 years I wouldn’t be able to master it completely. It might seem like it doesn’t have much variance in terms of gameplay, but if I could genuinely only pick one game it would have to be one where I could constantly challenge myself to improve, rather than anything to do with story or characters.

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    1. Plus you can go through the entire series to learn the changes and also become more integrated with the lore of world. Which reminds me, who is your favorite character and game from the series?

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      1. True, although I guess having every game from one series is cheating, I think if I were to do it in reality I would have to pick just one entry from the series!
        My personal favourite to play now is Tag Tournament 2, but if I look at the series from the start, then I would say 3 is probably the best one. It really set the standard for what the game is today. My best characters to play as are Julia and Baek, not sure about a favourite tho…

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    2. I’m not sure I could pick a game like Tekken as my final choice. I’d end up spending so much money on new controllers after having to replace those I threw at the wall in frustration ha ha ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good choices for games that literally can take you hours upon hours upon hours to finish 100%, plus it should be pointed out that while that is the only game you are allowed to play, nobody said for how long or how often you should be playing it. Which means you can take your time without feeling burned out from the genre.

    Personally, if it became something where you should play all the time everyday then games where layouts of the worlds are procedural generated, MMOs or even something along the lines of Overwatch can keep one entertained for many hours on end with new content always coming in patches and expansions. (Though I agree with Pix that Tekken is an amazing choice of a game to go with, you can play the whole series through).

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    1. I was originally thinking of choosing The Elder Scrolls Online, as I’ve sunk so many hours into it and have only just scratched its surface. But I wasn’t sure whether that would be considered ‘cheating’ as it’s a game which is constantly updated! 😉

      Saying that though, it would a very good choice. I’ve been playing it for a few years now and I’m still not bored.

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  3. Shocked that Monkey Island is on your list 🙂

    I think sandbox type games would be a good choice if you could only pick one for life. Something that can be replayed numerous times but still discover new ways of doing things. Or new gameplay to uncover. A Sim City or Civilization type.

    But for me, I’d go for Sensible World of Soccer – you can mess about with the tactics and strategy, buying and selling players, setting new goals. And even after 25 years of playing Sensi, the matches can still surprise you!

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    1. As much as I love Monkey Island now, I think that if it was the only game I was allowed to play for the rest of my life I’d end up hating it! And I didn’t want to spoil it like that. 😉

      Sensible World of Soccer, now that was a choice I wasn’t expecting. It’s fascinating how a question like this has brought out several surprising answers.

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      1. Yep, there are some games that you don’t want to over-indulge with!

        You could equally swap out Sensi Soccer for whatever your favorite sports game is. They are effectively sandbox games, and what’s great about that is every match is truly unique – nothing ever happens the same way!

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        1. As someone who plays extremely few sport and sandbox games: does a mechanic ever become boring, despite each match being different? I’m interested to know! 🤔

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          1. I don’t play a lot of sports titles either, but there are a few that I revisit, with Sensible Soccer top of the list. You can play hundreds of matches in these things, and while you can master the gameplay components you’ll still be surprised by how CPU opponents can change things up. No two matches are the same!

            Any game where there’s a match-up can turn out slightly different each time – whether it’s sports games, or turn-based tactics like Advance Wars, racing games like Mario Kart. You can play the same matches and end up with completely varying results, so that’s a lot of replay value!

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            1. So it sounds as though it’s the element of competitiveness – whether against an AI or another player – which keeps things interesting. The original question about choosing one single game certainly makes you think about the things that are really important to you in gaming!

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    1. Aah I didn’t think of that… I could spend the rest of my years battling against Thomas the Tank Engine, riding a tiger, and creating hundreds of sweet rolls.

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  4. My wife would probably also pick Skyrim. I’d try to get something even longer. Maybe hacked single player World of Warcraft. That would probably have the longest possible shelf life. Unless I could cheat and pick a compilation disc like a Might and Magic or Wizardry collection, or one of those big old D&D game collections.

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    1. Your wife has good taste! I’ve not played World of Warcraft enough to be able to give myself a chance to really get into it, but I guess that would make it a good ‘one game’ choice. I’d certainly have plenty of hours to fill.

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  5. some excellent choices! Horizon is definitely on my list and Skyrim is always a solid choice. I would have to say Mass Effect 2 as my favourite game of all time, I just love the characters. I think any RPG has a huge replay appeal. there is a dark horse for me as well though, Mortal Kombat just like the above comments about Tekken even after all these years I am yet to master it and once again I love the characters of that universe.

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    1. When trying to narrow down my choices, I honestly didn’t think of games like Mortal Kombat or Tekken but they seem like pretty popular picks. Just think of how much of a pro you’d be after all those years!

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  6. One game forever? It’s a tough choice but as always I’ve put way to much thought into it, I’d have to go with Elder Scrolls Arena. Purely because it has all the amazingness of an Elder Scrolls game but it has the largest map of the lot roughly the size of the UK and with over 15,000 towns, cities and villages to explore! It’s unlikely I’d run out of stuff to see 🙂

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    1. The Elder Scrolls strikes again, in one form or another! The games seem to be a pretty popular choice when it comes to a question like this. I’ve never played Arena though – I’d be interested to check it out just to see the size of the map. 🙂

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      1. Can’t beat the Elder Scrolls right! I’ve played a bit of arena it’s challenging (in that way all old school games are) the maps randomly generated which allows it to be huge and there’s no quest markers just place names and directions so definitely a game you could spend loads of time in getting lost looking for places! Which is what I’d want if I’m going to be playing it forever

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        1. No quest markers? Wow… I’d definitely spend most of my time getting lost. An extremely good choice if you could only choose one game to play though!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Tough question, but knowing how I like to play, I’d be happy playing Harvest Moon: Animal Parade for the rest of my life. It was the game that got me into RPG in the first place.

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    1. A game like that would be perfect as there’s plenty to keep you going. Plus it would be great to chill out to during any stressful times throughout the years. 😉

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  8. Skyrim would be a no brainer for me! I cant even count the times I’ve played and re-played it. Id probably closely follow it with the Assassin’s Creed franchise… can I pick a whole franchise?! 😀

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    1. A friend of mine revealed that he’d finally 100% completed Skyrim last weekend – he’s the first person I know to have done it ha ha! It’d certainly be a great game to keep you going because there’s just so much to do.

      And yeah, I think we can let you pick a franchise… because that means I’d be able to do the same too and have more than one game to play. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha good!!! 😀 now… are we limited to one franchise?… 😂

        I’ve completed the main storyline of Skyrim quite a few times (and racked up about 800 hours of gameplay in the process) and i still don’t know if I’m 100% complete!! I definitely have around 4 achievements left on steam… particularly those pesky werewolf/vampire perk trees!!!! I think I’d happily play another 800 hours though!

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