People who have played games for decades will recall that earlier titles were good, but relatively simple. It’s for this reason that, up until recently, they were considered a pretty low-brow medium. But that’s no longer the case. In the past two decades, the industry has undergone a grand revolution to the point where, today, games are becoming highly-respected works of art. After all, how could they not be when they’re so immersive and engaging?
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the key features of modern games that help to make them so good — and also simply great fun to play.
Games and movies are different mediums, of course, but the best incarnations of both do share significant overlaps, which is most keenly felt in the quality of the storyline. Of course, games don’t necessarily need to have a great storyline, but the developers add them anyway. Why? Because it helps to make a game more immersive.
Once a game has a great storyline, it becomes about more than just simply completing a level or mission. It becomes about completing a mission because of the broader narrative. The gamer is helping to write a story rather than just going through the motions. Mass Effect 2, Starcraft, and Final Fantasy are a few examples of games with outstanding storylines.
The design of the game can make or break the immersive experience. It used to be possible to enjoy a game with so-so graphics and design, but that was only because the technology to make things better was not yet possible. Today, games have outstanding graphics and design, to the point where, in some cases, you have to look twice to make sure it is actually a game. The more life-like it is, the easier it is to suspend your disbelief and believe that whatever you’re playing is real.
Most gamers notice the design of the game. It’s one of the primary features that attracts people to a title in the first place. But there’s a secondary element that has a subtle but powerful impact on the overall gaming experience. For a variety of reasons, music is a common feature these days: sometimes, it’s to set the tone for the game, such as in Grand Theft Auto. In others, it’s to signify victory or loss, such as in online slot games, or to create tension or a sense of urgency, such as in Call of Duty.
The Ease of Play
It would be impossible for a game to be engaging if it was, well, impossible to play. The secret to a great experience is finding the balance between difficulty and simplicity. A game that is too easy to play wouldn’t be engaging because there must be an element of challenge. Only a certain level of difficulty can produce the concentration levels necessary for engagement.
On the other hand, if a game is too difficult, then the player might exert too much effort just trying to play, which means all the other details of the title would be lost. Essentially, a game must be not so easy that you can just walk through it, not too difficult that it cannot be completed.
The Small Details
Finally, there are the small details. The finer details have a subtle but powerful impact on a game’s immersive qualities. It’s the little things that help to draw you into the world. A game doesn’t necessarily need to have life-like advertisements on the corner of streets, movie titles on the cinema billboard, or colorful plants in the corner of the pasture, but many do. And that’s all because the more authentic a virtual world feels, the easier it is for people to fully engage.
The next time you’re playing a game that you love, look out for the above features — you’ll almost certainly notice them.