4 factors that define a good video game (IMHO)
What makes a video game a great video game? Sadly, the answer isn’t cut and dry. So, I’d like to start off by pointing out that this article is simply aiming to outline how I approach games today. There are loads of perspectives on this topic, and I fully encourage you to share your opinions with us in the comments section below.
Considering games come in a wide variety of genres, are produced on varying budgets and aim to cater to a number of audiences, I think there are just a few factors that can be applied to every video game.
Did you hear those bones crack?
It may be nearly 30 years old, but we guarantee you remember the tune to Super Mario. Adding to that, you’d probably still feel the satisfaction of crushing a Goomba when triggered with the right sound effect. How about leveling up in Final Fantasy? (DunananNAnanananah – we know that just played through your head). Or maybe playing the Ocarina song “Song of Time”. These sounds and songs were part of your childhood, so they have a special place in your heart. That being said, how do we invoke that type of emotion in modern titles?
Like everything, this is a personal preference. Take a moment and appreciate the sounds and ambiance that a developer is trying to set for you as you walk through the early stages of a game. Do you feel like you’re there? Are you so immersed that you lose track of time?
I ask myself those questions whenever I’ve sat down with a new game. I won’t rule out a game within the first hour if it’s soundtrack hasn’t blown me away. However, it might play a role in deciding whether to continue playing or refer it to a friend.
I haven’t played this in forever and I’m still kicking your A*&
The control schemes used in some of the most popular titles today are built off of similar structures and feel familiar. This allows Gamers to jump into new titles without having to deal with a harsh learning curve. For veteran Gamers these controls feel effortless and allow for quick submersion into a story.
On the other hand, there are games that do attempt to re-invent the wheel entirely but still make the controls feel seamless. The challenge arises when controls feel like a chore. When you have to consciously remember each command – that’s where some reviewers may proclaim ‘bad game mechanics’.
Gameplay is something you can reflect on after the first few hours into a new game. If you haven’t gotten the hang of things in the first 2-3 hours, chances are you might continue to struggle. That poor experience can really pull you out of submersion, what games aim for, and in some cases good graphics or a strong story line might not be enough to pull you back in.
Why am I tearing up right now?
A game’s story plays a vital role in it’s greatness. A great story will have you connect on a personal level with the game’s protagonist. When you genuinely care about the outcome, the journey itself becomes more enjoyable. It’s just the opposite for a poor storyline. Fantastic graphics and gameplay may pull you in initially, but a poorly structured plot can have you lose interest mid-game. In my opinion, strong story lines are a the biggest motivator for game completion.
Adding to that, games that offer enthralling stories often leave an emotional mark on you once you’ve played them. The Last of Us, Fable, The Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight – These are just a few titles that sucked me in through their fantastic storytelling and just didn’t let go until I had finished.
A quality story is in the eye of the beholder, just like any of the other game factors I’ve outlined. And I think it’s something you can easily decide to like or not, within that first hour.
OM*G, is this real life?
Triple A titles on PC and current-gen systems are redefining what ‘good graphics’ look like. A beautiful environment and detailed character models all add to a game’s ability to pull you into it’s world. I’ve been so spoiled that it’s becoming harder and harder to go back to my favorite classics.
Graphics are the only factor that I think can be judged prior to purchasing a new video game. Game trailers, and online game-play captured videos can give you a really good sense of what a game might look like on your current set up (so long as your internet speed is up to par).
Having shared my opinions above, I really want to stress that what makes a game good to someone is in their own eyes and hands. No single factor should be enough to drop a new title. Your next favorite game might have the worst soundtrack you’ve ever heard, but might have the most addictive gameplay. It might have the worst graphics you’ve ever seen, but the best story you’ve ever played through. You get the idea.
In your opinion, with these 4 factors in mind, what do you think is the best game ever? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation at @TypicalGeeks