Like a lot of college freshman, I thought I'd dread going to class and doing all of the homework like I did in high school. Then I signed up for Professor Craig Belanger's humanities special topics class on pop culture. All of a sudden, I couldn't wait to go to class to learn about musicians and artists who transformed our culture and engage in thoughtful discussions and debates with my peers.
I believe it is safe to say we are all quite familiar with the video game market and industry as a whole, especially the design decisions behind certain titles. However, I believe there is something most people overlook, something we as gamers see every single time we buy a game but don’t seem to acknowledge. By this, I’m talking about the ESRB rating, otherwise known as Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Considering how these discussions have gone into the different components of games, how they work and in what ways they affect players, I believe it is important to talk about one of the other key aspects that make a game truly a game. What do I mean by this? I mean that games separate themselves from any other form of entertainment because of one simple notion: a challenge.
Aside from all the important aspects in making a game, there is a key factor amidst it all that really makes a game stick with a player. That key factor is none other than progression. What does progression look like in games? How much does it impact the player? These are questions that will be answered throughout this discussion.
Now that we’ve heard the importance in dialogue, it is only natural that we now recognize another crucial element to any game: SFX. SFX is the abbreviation for sound effects, which are often used in movies and games. And in games, SFX can range from the sounds made from pressing start, the swing of a sword, the casting of a spell, and even the soundtrack of the game itself. In short, most of the enjoyable elements in a game come from the sounds you hear. Not only does it please you the moment you are playing the game, but you will also remember the game the next time you hear a familiar sound or song. The SFX can be so impactful that it becomes a part of your memories, so long as it is done right. Aside from knowing what SFX is, this discussion will get into different types of SFX, what it does for the game, and some neat examples to listen to.
Hello world. Alright, let me apologize for using that joke, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity presented before me. Getting back on focus, this opening joke or pun if you will is actually a good segue into this discussion topic: Open World and Exploration in gaming. Having already discussed the core aspects such as aesthetics and mechanics, I believe it’s time we get into the more expansive elements in games. In particular, we will be covering what an Open World is, what Exploration is, different forms of these and what they offer in a game. Without further ado, let’s explore.
Jumping away from the base mechanics or visuals of the game, I want to now focus on what we as players are hearing (or reading) in game. By this of course I mean dialogue, the words being communicated between characters in a game. For this discussion, I’m going to talk about what purpose dialogue serves in gaming, the different forms dialogue is demonstrated, and even the pros and cons to these styles of dialogue. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Now that we’ve covered the surface of the gaming world, it’s about time we looked into the inner workings of a game, the mechanics. If you were to mention mechanics to anyone that was not a gamer, they’d probably assume you were talking about those people who fix machinery whenever they have issues. In the game world however, mechanics are essentially the skeleton of a game. Every action that the player can do in a game is an individual mechanic that the game has within it. Jumping? That’s a mechanic. Pause? That’s a mechanic. Every action is a mechanic. In this discussion, we’re going to talk about the importance of mechanics in games and what they bring to the table.
Don’t you just love it when something looks pretty? When there is a cool image that just pops out and catches your eye? So do most gamers. In fact, with the latest advancements in the game industry, aesthetics have been a major focal point when attracting new audiences. No doubt that this strategy of showing off pretty aesthetics at conferences is an excellent form of promotion for the game, so long as they show those aesthetics in action. In this discussion, I’m going to go over what aesthetics offer the overall game and how important aesthetics are as a whole.
Being more of a trend in the current era of gaming, story has been a major focal point in the experience of numerous AAA titles. While as a designer I may not agree with less focus on the mechanics, I still appreciate the story a lot, especially when it compels different emotions in you. For this discussion, I going to talk about the pros and cons that story brings to a game. In addition, I’ll mention some of my favorite story-driven games that I’ve played growing up. So let’s open this story book, shall we?