Games That Believe Patience is a Virtue

Video games are normally whiz-bang affairs, dropping you in the action and having a dozen things happening at once. Any respite has to come from the player, or rather, the player's utilization of a handy pause function. Sometimes, though, video games will choose to chill out on their own, and ask the player to be totally inert along with them for a spell. Whether they do this because they're trying to do something interesting with the narrative flow, or make a statement about the forced interactivity of any given video game sequence, or even just having a bit of fun at the expense of an impatient gamer all depends on the temperament of the developers behind the game in question. Sometimes they're just wacky that way.

This list, based on an idea from everyone's favorite satellite supremo Video_Game_King, covers scenes and sequences from video games in which the player is expected to perform an uninteresting and overly long task where nothing of note appears to happen for its duration. They're throwing our ADD-addled restlessness back in our faces, essentially.

As if to ironically punish me for my candor, the Gods of the internet chose to completely devour this list before it could be published the first time. There's more than one reason we need a new website, to put it mildly. Therefore this list might seem a bit devoid of edifying text for the time being. If I ever get in the mood to re-type an entire 30 minutes' worth of material from memory, I'll get right on it.

List items

  • "Ladder". I'm going back and editing all these to be as verbose as they once were, but I think I'll leave this one be. You all presumably know what I mean by just "ladder".

  • Fragile Dreams has a lot of dilapidated and empty environments, save for the haunted souls of the deceased you'll occasionally fight. In the late game, when you're walking around the tunnels and walkways of a massive hydroelectric dam, there are stretches of very long corridor with absolutely nothing going on in them. It's meant to emphasize the desolation of this post-apocalyptic world devoid of people, but it's also a little tiresome too.

  • An endless corridor of exposition walls. Or rather, a series of identical, seemingly-empty rooms. For anyone who doesn't want to read the history of the Neverhood universe, it probably seemed like a bizarre non-sequitur and figured it was probably safe to assume it was yet another example of the game's surreal nature.

  • James Sunderland enters Silent Hill in not the sanest of conditions. He's got a lot of baggage, to put it mildly, and fog monsters and seeing his dead wife everywhere is just the tip of the lunacy iceberg. At one memorable point, reality seems to break down completely and the player spends the next uneventful few moments simply falling down a series of dark holes to nowhere.

  • Two instances stand out in Itoi's eccentric SNES RPG: The first comes after accepting a (or the?) Mr Saturn's coffee for an extended intermission where the game takes a breather and recounts major events of the game thus far to an already confused player. The next comes shortly thereafter and involves giving some unseen gatekeeper a password in order to enter the factory of the repugnant Mr Belch. The password is simply to stand on the spot for three minutes exactly, which is kind of elegant as passwords go. Worked for Fight Club, I guess.

  • One of the many deliberately anti-fun "challenges" of Takeshi's Challenge is waiting an hour in real-time for a treasure map to appear. Back then, it seems Takeshi Kitano didn't think much of games, or of anyone who bought them. He probably still doesn't.

  • Microgames that ask you to do nothing, throwing off your game. They are the worst. But also the easiest? Try playing one from the menu where you see how often you can perform the same mini-game in a row, it's doesn't require a lot of input.

  • Letting PAL-18 play in the Moon Burger's ball pit for 4 (or 7) hours in order to unlock his most powerful weapon. Anachronox is a funny, funny game. Try Grumpos's Yammer world skill for another example of the game wearing down the patience of even the most obstinate of lifeforms.

  • Though actually just one of an entire compilation of pranks disguised as mini-games, Desert Bus - in which you drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real-time, a trip which takes something like eight hours - got something of a second lease of life from a group of philanthropic gamers performing the endurance drive for charity donations. Heart from adversity, as it were.

  • It's hard to recall now, after multiple incarnations of "Sad Cloud" - the eternally mopey spiky-haired ex-SOLDIER that wasn't - but both he and Final Fantasy VII actually had something of a subversive, sardonic sense of humor to them. One amusing sequence has you breaking into Shinra Tower either by the front door or the sneakier fire escape route. Unfortunately, this involves climbing many, many flights of stairs. It's not long before other team members are berating Cloud for his decision.

  • Paper Mario puts its players through the wringer a few times by testing their patience in a deliberate tongue-in-cheek way. It's your choice between the NPC in Thousand Year Door having to make up the loss of a ring to his irate fiancee by saying "I love you!" a hundred times (each taking a single dialogue bubble that needs to be clicked before you can continue, naturally), hearing Luigi recount his super elaborate and entirely incidental adventures running parallel to your own, paying back a priceless vase by running in a hamster wheel for what feels like hours or the 100-Man Fighting Challenge that is mercifully truncated when the world in which it is staged implodes in on itself. I'm just glad the developers are amused by all this.