We attempted to play video games for 23 hours, the same amount of time as online exams

Spoiler: we couldn’t do it

In light of the new format of exams, me and my friend decided it would be interesting to see how badly our attention spans decreased as we played our respective games for the same amount of time as a 23 hour online exam.

We wanted see if it’s possible to do this  in one sitting with breaks but no sleep. The games we played were Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, The Witcher 3/ Horizon Zero Dawn.

Hour one – The battle began…

We started at 4:15 pm, with ham sandwich as sustenance to start our 23 hour attempt on a notoriously difficult game, around the same sort of time you’d start writing your exam after almost two hours of planning.

Fighting against Genichiro Ashina, one of the major boss fights in the game, and from the start, it hadn’t been going well. Got my drinks and food consumed, morale high. As bright-eyed as I was in thinking I can do this, the battle was beginning.

My friend was hyped to do this, ready to take anything on which the game had to offer… Or in his case, play it with mods with lowest graphics and lightsabres instead of swords. Sometimes you have to adapt, like when you start writing your essay then realise you didn’t understand the question and have to start again.

Hour two – Brute force time!

I still couldn’t beat Genichiro, attention span at an all time high but still being killed by him, and I needed another solution. Like with the exams, I would be experiencing some difficulty explaining the theory and needing to find another solution, using my notes rather than brute force… Which is what I did. I studied his movements, and attacks.

Despite my friend’s attention span being high, he wanted to have a change of pace with exploring and settled for some card playing. This was monotonous for him, and this a reflection of the repetitive nature of the exam.

He played it the whole hour against multiple people and winning each one. During that time, he became sloppier and decided to move to another game. Just like when you move on to another question in the exam to avoid answering the one you are stuck on.

Hour four – A breakthrough?

One YouTube video later and making notes, I had to be more ambitious, but not too greedy in my attacks. I figured out Genichiro’s attack patterns. This breakthrough in the exam is when something clicks in your mind and you realise what you are supposed to write about.

My skills were beginning to slip and I knew I had to take a break and eat. I made some noodles and I pressed forward after eating. For exams, you need to remember to take breaks, and I felt different after eating and my attention span somewhat increased.

Hour six – Attention span decreases

Whilst slowly but surely navigating around the world cleaning up with collectibles, my friend began to slip up. Making simple mistakes against enemies and consistently getting killed.

His skills regained after eating some snacks and played for another five hours exploring the world and hunting for some more collectibles.

The morale on Hour Six would begin to decrease, where in the exam you think everything’s gibberish and lost all meaning.

Hour eight – Sloppiness

I began to show signs of sloppiness, with dealing with basic enemies, where normally I would be parrying them efficiently, but I still progressed whilst exploring. Morale still remained high but it began to dwindle as time went on.

With an exam, this is the time when your body starts to shut down. So maybe you have a walk around campus or go see your mates in the kitchen just for a distraction before going back to the dreaded battle.

Hour 10 – The end is near

Combat wise, I was getting bad, making the most basic mistakes against enemies. But at least I decided to just stealth kill enemies as the alternative.

10 hours into the exam, you’re debating on whether or not to just submit it as it is, since you’ve done all the questions and just throw caution in the wind.

The time was 2:01 am. I decided to finish it. I had failed and clocked in at 10 hours, 20 minutes and 57 seconds… I knew I was getting nowhere if I continued. I then slept for seven hours and bought a Greggs at 10:30 am.

Regardless of coffee or not, do not do the exams in one sitting for 23 hours. They suggest spend at most three hours, and the other times is to proof read your answers.

I love playing games, but 23 hours with breaks is too much without sleep!

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