What Constitutes A Great Game?


As we all know there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of video games being made for all systems combined in any given year. Companies are always trying to capture the attention, and wallets, of consumers from around the world by introducing something new in their product with hopes of people like you and me spending a portion of our hard earned money on said game. An immediate example is this year’s E3 event. The showroom was literally blanketed by a sea of developers showing off their wares hoping to create positive buzz leading up to the upcoming holiday shopping season. With so many games on the way, how does one determine a great game from a not so great game. If you strip away all of the commercials, pre-rendered cinematics, and pre-order swag, is the game really ‘all that’ in the end?

This is a question that all video game publishers must answer before any development team begins work on a new project. It’s a question that must be answered carefully because making video games is not a cheap endeavor, a typical modern video game can cost from USD$1,000,000 to over $20,000,000 to develop. As you can see, making a great game is a must if one is to be profitable in the video game industry.

The answer to this million dollar question (literally) can only be answered by you the gamer. There have been many top level executives fired because they poured millions of dollars into the development of a game that turned out to be a dud. Some games even have gamers questioning why the game was ever made in the first place, can we say Atari Pac-Man?

Again we ask, what constitutes a great game? Is it guns? Over the last several years first person shooters have ruled the sales charts. Are gamers more entertained by having the ability to operate guns they would never get to use in real life? (hopefully) Is the act of shooting someone a hidden pleasure amongst gamers that developers will milk until the end of time? Is it mutilation? Are gamers thrilled being able to rip heads from bodies and seeing tendons, organs, and blood gushing in high def detail? Or is it the ‘bad boy complex’? Do gamers all have a deep seeded wish to run around town and do whatever they want? Stealing, shooting, and beating innocent people all in the name of having fun?

All of the above can be considered guilty pleasures that we all enjoy (virtually, i hope!) and would never do in real life even though video games are always to blame for the collapse of society as we know it. But are these the only worlds that developers can create for us gamers to ‘play’ in? Is this all we can think of or is this what we give into for the sake of profitability?

Some would say developers are giving up on creative innovation and depending solely on ‘shock value’ to attract gamers. Worst yet, on numerous occasions, we see developers rely on what is called the Safe Rout or Cookie Cutter Process where instead of being innovative, which amounts to a large investment of money, developers will copy a proven game hoping to cash in on its similarity. I ask these questions because in all honesty, a lot of games at this year’s E3 were continuations of previous games amped up with higher levels of violent, graphical detail all in glorious high definition. Who do we blame for the lack of new fresh ideas that are not seen in video games. Is it the gamers fault for accepting anything that is shoved down their throats? Or is it the developers fault for taking advantage of the violent nature that lives in us all which requires no real creativity to provoke?

What do you think?

Emanuel Stone aka E_Stone
Power to the Gamers!!

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