Leaving Games Unfinished


I’ve recently noticed that I tend not to finish games. Several RPGs I play have characters eagerly waiting to tackle an apocalyptic final boss, I’m being sluggish about completing the story in Breath of the Wild, etc. This habit, for me, is unique to games: I don’t leave books unread, I don’t stop watching movies or TV shows before the end, but I can’t bring myself to end the experience of playing through a game.

Part of it is definitely that I play a lot of RPGs, and no matter how “replayable” they theoretically are I don’t have the time to replay games of that length. So my tendency to not finish games might be related to the knowledge that once I finish it I probably won’t come back to it for a long time.

Do you also have problems completing games? Or other media?


Games I don’t finished are ones that end up not playing well near the end game. Prey 2017 and Xenoblade X are ones due to how kind boring the last parts of the games are.


Ooh that’s almost worth its own topic, but I feel like a lot of games kinda fall off in the last third or fourth, once all the big plot and mechanics reveals have taken place you’re left with a very straightforward shot to the end. As I said, I play a lot of RPGs and they tend to suffer from that; if the central conflict isn’t given proper weight the run to the end just feels hollow. One game that understands the need for importance is the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky games. They leave just enough mystery right up until the end that my interest was maintained through the final boss fight.


Yes! Such a problem for me. I still haven’t finished ‘Fallout 4’ – a game I generally loved all along the way. I think you’re probably right on about the idea of never coming back to a game once you’ve completed it. I don’t think I’ll ever play any of the original ‘Mass Effect’ trilogy again (even though I really enjoyed them) because I beat them and that was that.

Also with RPG’s, there’s so much to love, but there’s also a lot of little bits and boring parts scattered throughout. Thinking about going through the first five levels of any Bethesda game again is kind of a non-starter for me.


For me, this definitely isn’t something unique to games. If I’m not getting anything out of a book, I will stop reading it (the last example of this for me was Andrew Kliman’s The Failure of Capitalist Production: Underlying Causes of the Great Recession, which was a fascinating book, but way above my ability to comprehend it cogently); I’m a notorious slacker when it comes to TV, often watching 2-3 seasons of any show per year, so I’ve probably half-seen twice what I’ve seen in full.

When it comes to games, there’s definitely something around the experience of PC gaming that makes finishing things harder. The fact that I’m sitting down to look at my e-mail, talk to my friends, and, maybe, play a game or two means there’s a mismatching of what I’m doing in a way I don’t have with consoles, where I can silo myself off from the world briefly to just sit down and make these humans and rabbits shoot the bad rabbits.


I had a similar thread regarding getting rid of your backlog by simply fully dropping the games you know you honestly aren’t going to start or finish.

I’ve adopted a real mindset of wanting to find experiences I earnestly enjoy, wanting to be in a place where my game queue is clear and I can take recommendations. One of those games I’ve always held off playing COULD be my next favorite! So, if I’m feeling like I’m slogging through one at the moment, I drop it. For example, I dropped Prey 2017 6 hours in immediately once the “Nightmare” mechanic appeared, destroying the one thing that was keeping me interested in the game–calm, steady exploration.

I kind of dislike the “last boss” design and often find myself considering games beaten before that final battle, especially in JRPGs where they are usually the most ridiculous, multi-stage fights testing everything you’ve learned and then some.

So basically I’ve had a Bartleby awakening when it comes to games. Sometimes, I simply prefer not to.


I very often don’t finish games, and I don’t really feel bad about it because I genuinely don’t think a lot of games need to be finished.

I’ll play a game, get my fill of enjoyment from it, and move on when I stop enjoying it as much. It took me a long time to realize the value of walking away and starting something else, as opposed to fooling myself into thinking I’m enjoying the final, tedious stretch. There’s only so many hours in the day, and with the amount of games/books/movies we’re all exposed to it’s important to be honest and realistic with yourself and let things go when it’s time.

When it comes to narrative-focused experiences, if I don’t get to the very end myself (which usually isn’t too tough with shorter games like Gone Home or Night in the Woods) I’ll just watch the rest of it on YouTube or something and skip having to be actively engaged with it using my PC. Even games I love that I return to all the time, I rarely crave reaching the end. Hell, I’ve played over 120 hours of civilization and I’ve probably played a total of 3 games to completion.


This happens to me a lot with long RPGs because I’ll start them and then have work/school/something that tears me away for long enough that, when I go back, I’ve forgotten everything that’s happened in the story and what I was trying to do with my characters, and I basically would have to start all over again. (And sometimes I do—one day I’ll finish you, Fire Emblem: Awakening.)

Earlier this year I also got about halfway through Ori and the Blind Forest—which is a beautiful game with some mechanics I’m not entirely onboard with—and I was planning to just power through and finish it… and then I found Hollow Knight. And then I just had no desire to ever launch Ori again, because HK both catered more to my tastes and fixed everything I found unfun about Ori. So sometimes I’ll stop playing a game because I’ve found something that (for my tastes, at least) improves on the original game’s ideas to the point where I just can’t work up the energy go back.


I rarely not finish games. Typically I can’t play anything else until I finish the one I’m currently playing. I’m also on the autism spectrum, maybe that has something to do with it :smirk: If I don’t finish a game because I’m stuck at it or really don’t enjoy playing it anymore I always have a bit of an antsy feeling about it. I remember abandoning XCOM Enemy Unknown and then picking it up and finishing it almost a year later and feeling SO accomplished lol XD


I have changed a lot on this recently. I used to complete pretty much every game I started for years and years, but now I am much more time limited so if a game doesn’t pull me back in then I no longer try to force it (which would sometimes work, sometimes not). If I am not having a degree of fun, then the game is put down now.

I have also done similar with books. I read a lot less now anyway, but before a couple of years ago I don’t think i had ever not finished a book I had started. Have done that a few times since then.


Yeah, I think as we get older there’s more of a sense of “eh, why waste my time if it’s not enjoyable”.

That being said, I do tend to finish all the narrative-heavy games that I start unless 1) they actively distress me or 2) I get stuck and there’s no way around it, simply because I don’t start a great number of games and most of them are not super long AAA epics. (Condition 2 is mostly the province of reflex/timing-based challenges and obscure text games.) The books were much more noticeable since I’ve been reading pretty nearly my whole life and pick up new books quite frequently.


I used to be a completionist that had a hankering for open world games. That is not a good combination at all.

I’ve definitely morphed into “play the game until I don’t want to.” I don’t buy very many games, so I usually end up cycling back through games I put down before. I rolled through Horizon: Zero Dawn, DOOM (2016), and Wolfenstein in the last two weeks before Destiny 2 dropped.

I also had to remind myself that it was okay to not play Destiny every week. That was tougher than I thought.


From the standpoint of a creative storyteller who loves story…it kills me that I don’t complete games. But I also value my limited time and I’d rather bounce from a game instead of come to resent it for making me slog through the “bad” parts or the parts that don’t work for me. And considering I can come back to these games if I catch up, or just look up the ending, I don’t feel as guilty about it as I used to.


I don’t think I’m never gonna finish FFVI, FFVII or Breath of Fire IV. I even sold FE: Conquest because I knew I wasn’t gonna finish it. It may look like i don’t like JRPG’s but I really enjoy them. FFIV is my favorite from the series and Mother 3 was an amazing game. There’s a time and place and everything I supoose. As for tv? not much I can say about that. I tried to watch Game of Thrones but I never got into it.


Finishing games has always been tough for me. Games and books. Movies are easy cause they are relatively short. If I can’t finish those I have other concerns. TV shows are a lot more digestable but even then I suppose down points in shows can throw me off. Boardwalk Empire is a show I know I would love but somewhere along Season 3 I fell off. Then every time I go to pick it back up and almost feels like a chore. I have to find where I left off and if I can’t remember I go a little before where I think it might be, I start to remember things and then hit the wall of investing time into getting to the part I didn’t enjoy to begin with. I’m being too much probably.

Games though, I don’t know. Never going to finish P4 Golden. Not a shot. Put 30 hours in, took a break for a month, tried coming back and forgot most everything. It is dead to me. I am hoping this doesn’t happen with BOTW which I have chipped away at for months. At some point the investment, or in most cases the reinvestment, isn’t worth the hassle.I get fun experiences out of them and there are probably more to be had but UGH I just can’t handle it.


honestly, i rarely finish games. when I was young, I always felt so bad about closing the book on the story and characters I had grown to love, I usually ended up putting games down around 3/4 of the ways through. Sometimes I would finish a couple years later.

Now I usually (inadvertently, or in a moment of weakness) spoil the ending before I finish, and lose the drive to see it for myself.

I just can’t win.


I used to get really anxious about not finishing games, books, movies, or TV shows. But then I realized that it’s not my job to finish them; it’s the job of the artist to make me want to finish them. Not everything’s made for me, and I’m okay with that. I would rather race through something I’m passionate about than waste my precious time on something that doesn’t do it for me. And if there’s a game I want to know about, but don’t want to invest the time into it (like Persona 5), then I’ll track down a well-written essay that talks about why it mattered to that writer.

Honestly, I think there’s a good market for people who can describe why a game is interesting or belongs in “the canon” for people who don’t want to spend time playing through them. I’m currently writing a series of zines about the Metal Gear series where I do this, so I’m interested to hear feedback once that’s done.


I get this, I dove into BOTW eagerly and burned out partway through, I’m now back into it with the help of a few walkthroughs for getting useful items.


Still going strong with Breath of the Wild, but just signed up with Gamefly to go through some of these games I know I’m not going to finish and to get my fun out of them without fully committing. Here’s hoping it works. :man_shrugging:


Don’t leave games unfinished. If you die, you’ll come back as a ghost wandering the earth with unfinished business.