here is a term in gaming, “One more turn”. It’s pretty much for turn based games where you are managing or building something with the revenues and technologies you are gaining. Every turn, you almost have the next thing you need.
Reminds me of the night I started a game of Railroad Typcoon. After a while in my game, my wife passed by and told me she was going to bed. “Sure, hon. Just another turn or two”. But then those new heavy steam engines came out – perfect for those heavy coal hauls. And then another tycoon employed a rate war against me. I spent some time rallying my railroad to fight him. Hey, now diesels are available, so I had to switch out all my motive power. That meant that some of my routes that had many trains could be run with fewer, so I had to pick the trains to drop.
That’s about when I looked up, curious about why birds were chirping outside the window in the middle of the night. Which it wasn’t. Dawn. And I had a full day’s work ahead of me. My wife told me she didn’t care to hear about my woes.
And that’s the thing. Games can be a story, a real page-turner where you can’t break away. You have to find out what comes next. Your entire mind is processing things, trying to figure out the best thing you can do.
Now, certainly games are proactive (you determine the course of the narrative) instead of reactive (where you read the story another has written). But both can grip you and hold you. Ironically, when I find myself up late with a book, I wished I’d just played a game. And with a game, a book. The middle ground is TV, which is not interactive at all, and not gripping fiction either. It’s easy to turn away from.
This all came to mind while playing Shogun Showdown, a clever pixel game where you play a swordsman in amine/manga/movie Japan, using your skills (and eventually magic) to hew your way to the Shogun’s palace and nail him to the wall. With all my wanderers and ronins, I’ve made it to the palace a handful of times and killed the Shogun once. But what battles! What stories! I still smile when I play, even though (from the law of averages) I’m doomed.
Games, like books, can be gripping fiction in their own rights.