There are many reasons why we play games from design to mechanics. Below I explore what makes game interesting (in both digital and non-digital context) looking at environments, characters, story lines, graphics, game mechanics and popular game franchises.
A lot of games are well known for their story lines, characters and environments can impact the story, however I believe it is the game mechanic ‘Ownership’ that makes us feel the way we feel when playing video games.
The Last of Us
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This game is incredibly well-known for its intense story line, incredible environments and immersive interactivity. In 2014 the game won a BAFTA games award for the story along with many other awards including awards for audio, performance and best game of the year. The story is intense and features many sections to get your heart racing which may include jump scares and dark/spooky environments. The game is fun, however I believe we don’t play it for fun; I believe that we play it to find out more and more of the story as we go along (purely for curiosity) and to see the relationship of both characters grow. Most recent games are almost always featuring a companion which also adds to the story as you get to know them along your journey and then something intense/dramatic will happen therefore affecting the players feelings.
The Bioshock Game Series
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This game series is very consistent, I do find that the game can be boring when doing repetitive fetch quests, however, when the quest links more towards the main story line it gets rather interesting as the game is clever in which you can depict what is actually happening; by this I mean the game is so confusing that there are many ways that you can depict the ending and even parts of the story. Some of the story line has been set in stone, but the games complexity is what makes it so interesting. I have played Bioshock Infinite about 3 times now just so I can understand and wrap my head around the main story line, I’ve even looked at the DLC’s in relation to how they fit into the main story line. Most of the game mechanics stay the same, the only thing that technically changes is the constants and variables which is explained in the main game. “There is always a lighthouse, there is always a man, there is always a city” – Elizabeth states within the main story of Bioshock Infinite, the first Bioshock features an underwater city (Rapture) and a man (Jack) and the lighthouse (portal to infinite universe i.e. a tear via the luteuce device.
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This game series is again known for many great game aspects, however I think the story lines for these games are amazing as they teach us about history and what it was like in that sort of time era. Most of the games feature a character called Ezio and throughout the game series we grow attached to him and other characters which then affect the story line and also our feelings. The story lines are very interesting and there are also many fetch quests, however these fetch quests (unlike other games) are not boring as you still get to free roam around the city with amazing free-running and parkour mechanics as well as beautiful landscapes to view.
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Within this game you play as a detective called Cole Phelps who has just recently joined the Los Angeles Police Department. Although he isn’t a well-known or iconic character such as Mario or Sonic I chose to write about him because his character is unique as we feel the way he feels throughout the story and we watch him grow as a character as you rise through the ranks of the police department. Phelps goes from Patrol Officer to Detective to homicide to vice to then get demoted to arson after a series of events happenend to then unfortunately lead to his death. As well as seeing how his work life is going we also get a glimpse of his home life and we do feel sorry for him at most of times. Also to gain more interest in the game we also have a companion with each promotion. The companions all have different personalities so it gives us a chance to like and hate (as well as having the usual enemies/suspects).
Murdered: Soul Suspect
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Again another detective game in which the main aim is to uncover the mysteries about the deaths of characters. When the detective gets close to uncovering the mystery of the serial killer known as ‘The Bell Killer’ he gets attacked and pushed out the window by the killer. Ronan (the main protagonist) dies and turns into a ghost, he is then informed by his wife (who was already dead) that to rejoin her in the afterlife he needs to solve the case of ‘The Bell Killer’. The story line is good, however it has been said to be the only good thing about the game. I have played it and I do admit it would be hard to replay it as it would be very boring because you know all the mysteries that have been solved also when in trouble or around enemies you can only really run away. It could have been better if they worked longer on the game or made it today with the technology we have in which we can program AI to learn from your mistakes as well as randomly generate the levels.
Skyrim, Fallout, Saints Row, Grand Theft Auto etc.
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All of the above games feature character customization and character development/progression. I am a really big fan of games like this because designing your character is so much fun; you can make it look like you, make it look like a celebrity or even make it look really creepy and alien-like. When playing as a character you have created you feel a lot more involved and when looking at Grand Theft Auto and the Elder Scrolls we get to see other players character creations online as well as show off our own. I also find that with games like this we enjoy it more as when the main story line is over we still have the chance to unlock items and customize. Character progression is great as it keeps the players so interested and when we have great story lines, great characters and large, immersive environments like all of the games above we find ourselves within a state of flow.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
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When the new Tomb Raider games were announced I became quite worried just like many others as most people prefer for good games to stay in their original state, however, the outcome of these games is truly amazing as Lara is looking more realistic, the story reveals more about how she became the Tomb Raider she is and most of all the environments are so immersive. I like the environments in this as the detail is incredible. If there is snow Lara walks slower the thicker it gets, shivers when shes cold and leaves footprints therefore we feel more immersed when playing the game as seeing her reaction to the weather and we actually understand the difficulties she must be facing. When in water her hair and clothes get wet and again we get reactions from her when she enters cold water. As well as the environment affecting Lara, the environment itself gets affected in many ways; paths crumble and the environment can be quite interactive such as smashing walls down, discovering murals and walking into death traps.
Resident Evil 7
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This game has only just come out and I am already amazed by the environment. The graphics are in so much detail from a completely realistic human to centipedes that are so real you don’t want to go near them. Obviously I don’t know too much as the game has only just been released but I know the environment puts the player on edge at all times (as it is a horror game) and the environments are quite enclosed as the player is restricted to tight, confined and scary spaces. They have really put a lot of thought into making this game because they have considered every little detail. One of the main NPC’s named ‘Mia’ is incredibly detailed and I actually questioned if the start up was live action or not as she looks so real.
Spyro the Dragon
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Graphics aren’t always the most important. The 1998 Spyro the Dragon game had such an amazing environment which was great for exploring. When looking for inspiration for my game I looked at Spyro the Dragon because the environment is quite free roam and you have a range of levels and area hubs to explore. There are many themed levels which makes the game even more interesting. Compared to other games I feel like it is very simplistic; I’m not sure if that is because of the time era it was made in or if that is the way in which they decided to go for making the game but simplicity really made the game quite fun to charge around.
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Monopoly, now known as the game that tears families apart. The game was and still is popular but no one can finish the game as it takes too long to complete and most people are arguing within the first ten minutes. The game is now popular due to the many special releases they have made such as:
- Monopoly Token Madness.
- Monopoly: Ultimate Banking Edition.
- Monopoly Junior Game.
- Monopoly: Star Wars.
- Monopoly Empire.
- Monopoly Junior: Disney/Pixar Finding Dory Edition.
- Monopoly Junior: Yo-Kai Watch Edition.
- Monopoly Jackpot.
- Monopoly: Angry Birds.
- Monopoly: Disney Princess Edition.
- Monopoly: Despicable Me 2.
- Monopoly Junior: Frozen Edition.
- Monopoly Junior: Disney Sofia the First Edition.
- Monopoly Grab and Go Game.
and those games above are just the ones from the Hasbro website, here is a link to another site which shows all Monopoly Releases (some may be digital). http://monopoly.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Monopoly_Games_(Board)
The game is now mainly bought as a collectible item and can be sold for incredible amounts of money. As a Games Design student who is a fan of Fallout 4 I am interested in the Fallout version of monopoly and I also have the disney version, whereas people with other interests such as Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad can pick up a monopoly set thatt they can enjoy.
Dungeons & Dragons
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This game is very popular and brings many people together. You can create and enjoy many stories as well as read about stories told by fantasy authors. One person is known as ‘The Dungeon Master’ and they control most of the story (they are almost like a narrator), the others play the game by rolling dice to depict parts of the story and aspects of their character as well as actions they might take throughout the game. The game is great for improving imagination and becoming a creative. However there are some issues; even though the game might be quite good to play many people don’t give it chance as it can be seen as ‘unpopular’.
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I chose to write about this game as it is something that can be played without technology, without a board and even without words. The game requires one person to act out actions so that the other people playing can guess what the word is e.g. if the subject was ‘The Little Mermaid’ the person acting would make little actions then act like a mermaid and the other would have to guess. At the beginning of the action the audience are told how many words it is and also what type of media it is. As simple as this game is (not needing anything at all but players to play the game) people have still made it digital. The digital version is called heads up and the bonus with this game is that it records the players actions and scores points.
My Favorite Games
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I really like this game and I was in such a state of flow that I just ignored every other game I had until I had explored everything I could within the game. The game gives us the option to have a companion and we also get a choice of companion in which they all have their own unique personalities and abilities they give us when we achieve 100% happiness within the relationship. The map is rather large as well and even when you attempt to uncover the whole thing you still uncover more. There are many weapons and weapon modifications as well as modifications to armor and your own power armor suit. The environment is amazing and very different to see and that goes with Fallout 3 as well as Fallout New Vegas.
Abe Game Series (Oddysee, Exoddus and New ‘N’ Tasty)
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The game series that got me so interested in becoming a gamer but also scared the life out of me as a child. The original game was so good in its time and so good now that they have decided to remake it, also there will be another Abe game being released soon which has a new story line so fans are incredibly pleased. The game is fun to play as you have to take many risks, be patient and have a childish sense of humor as the game features very informal wordplay, funny but brutal deaths and a Mudokken full of gas. I really like the transformation the game made from Oddysee to Exoddus as you can see the improvements that were made were the improvements we wanted e.g. speaking to more than one mudokken at a time and having mudokken’s with feelings.
Rayman (The Original)
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I really like the original Rayman which was released on PlayStation 1 for its 2D aspect and its difficulty. I tried to recall playing the game as a child and all I could think about was the first level set and then I recently played it again and remembered that as a child I could never get past those levels and still to this day I find the game intense and difficult. The game has some characters but little detail about them. Usually the NPC’s are usually in danger or in need of help. Also the game is all text and Rayman is mute apart from grunts and little noises.