What Makes A Game A Game?

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Think about how many times we have to explain our favourite pastime to non-gamers… we stumble over words while they look at us with blank expressions on their face or sometimes they look at us like we are overgrown children. When explaining a game to newcomers it is difficult because there is just so many aspects and qualities to cover that a 5 minute conversation ( if we are lucky that they hold on that long) just doesn’t cut the mustard.

So what makes a game a game?

To me the biggest thing that makes a game is escapism and immersion. When playing games I want to escape away from my everyday life to a new place. It is an hour or two to get away from your daily tasks into a new realm where you can do things that would never be possible in the real world. We have rules and restrictions everywhere we go in real life in a game we can breakskyrim icon the rules we can transport ourselves into a body that is just not accessible. This links in nicely with story, you want to play a game that you are compelled to learn more about the world you now occupy. This is the place where you will spend countless hours running around you don’t want to be stranger to it forever, you want to feel the emotions that you character goes through. You want to feel the hate that the good guys feel toward the villains. Like in my previous post I stated that sound and atmosphere goes hand in hand its what keeps you wanting to reside in your new virtual home.

Gameplay and mechanics is so vital that it’s the way your game is played, in order to keep your attention the game must flow flawlessly. Countless times I found myself fiddling through clunky combat instantly making me frustrated and pulling me out of the game entirely. We want to play something that is smooth and works without a second glance at the controller or keyboard.

The learning curve and motivation, there is no better feeling than reward. Games that do this well is ones with plenty of  looting, blasting your way through borderlands various head scratching enemies is thrilling but when you defeat the big guys and pick up some epic loot that sense of achievement feel great, it keeps you wanting more. Games like Dota, hearthstone and League of Legends has a steep learning curve but when you finally master it you feel like a pro.

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League Of Legends Word Championship

The community, may it be an Esport attracting millions of viewers, selling out stadiums or a game that just has a small forum with dedicated and loving fans, these are the people who can help you out when you are stuck on that god-damn boss that just wont bite the dust. These guys can be your in game or outside game friends. It’s great to find that thing you love but it better to have friends to share that with. I personally have spent countless hours reading through forums and tweets about Dragon age it’s been a massive help and it nice to spend the wee hours of the morning discussing your favourite game and franchise.

When we meld all these elements together we should get the game that hooks us in from start to finish. A world that we wish was real,a system that we are a master of and a virtual reality that we are in complete control of.

So tell me what makes a game for you?

(Images: dreamstime.com, skyrim official, .twinfinite.net)

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8 responses to “What Makes A Game A Game?

  1. nice post. I remember Steve Gaynor from Fulbright who made Gone Home gave a talk at a conference on what makes a game a game after all the flak he received from people dubbing Gone Home a ‘walking simulator’. It’s on YouTube and a great watch

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good article. I find a lot of games now have little to no learning curve because the producers/developers don’t want to scare potential players off. But like you say, it’s also key to a sense of reward and achievement.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nowadays, games are so multifaceted that it’s hard to simplify a lot of them. For me, a good game strikes the right balance between a lot of different aspects, with immersion being one of the most important. A game isn’t a game unless you’re truly in tune with the universe, as you said.

    Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have two comments for this! First off, you mentioned discussing Dragon Age with like-minded people. So, I know a podcast/blog/thing that is dedicated to Dragon Age and Bioware if you’re interested in getting involved in that community. They’re called The Dialouge Wheel. (I realized this is the second time I’ve recommended something to you haha sorry. It just feels relevant.)

    SECONDLY, what makes a game a game. I’ve been debating writing a blog post about a “game” I found a month ago called Mountain. Basically, I think the point of it is to really question what makes a game and what a game is. It’s kind of a symbolic social commentary. The game is literally a mountain. Twirling in space. That things happen to. (Google it, the reviews are good for a laugh.) So, by your definition of a game (and many other people’s definition) this isn’t -really- a game. But maybe you can make it one yourself? For example, I could give my mountain a story myself to get involved in. I do this in the Sims all the time and that’s what makes it enjoyable for me, so why not a story about a lonely mountain in outer space? (Just hypothetically speaking, I didn’t actually do this haha.) Anyway, I’ll stop there. Just thought I’d throw my thought into the pool.

    Liked by 1 person

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