Monday, May 17, 2010

Addiction is Quality?

Many games are praised because of how time flies as you follow your nose from one objective to the next, and though this layering of goals and rewards is a meaningful and valuable part of an experience, I tend to knock it down if it ultimately leaves me with that "wasted my time" vibe. I'm sure the line is different for everyone, but if I can reasonably predict the results of gameplay systems interacting but the game keeps me going because of how it layers goals and rewards, then I want to limit the credit I grant it. If another game has less nuanced gameplay interactions, but it keeps feeding me new (i.e., unpredictable) input, I don't walk away with the "wasted my time" vibe and want to give it more credit.

But can it be broken down so simply? Exceptions to the rule pop in my head too easily. For example, I can reasonably predict the results of a night of Street Fighter, Tribes, or Subspace but I still give them high marks. Maybe the exception to the rule is competitive multiplayer; that player unpredictability is more interesting than single-player unpredictability to me. I don't appreciate random events driven by numbers nearly as much.


  1. "Replayability," maybe? You could just call it "fun," for a given definition of the term (one which includes less-obvious enjoyable things like learning (maybe not for everyone) and fear (also not for everyone)).

  2. Maybe it's stating the obvious, but I would say the quality of a game is the degree to which it achieves its intended (by the designer) purpose. This will be different for each player.

    A player's idea of a game's quality, I would say, is the degree to which it achieves a purpose that player values. This could be the intended purpose of the designer or a tangential one, even one the designer didn't foresee.

    A publisher's idea of a game's quality would be the degree to which it achieves purposes that many players value...

    I feel like I'm being more general than you were in your post, but I'm not sure whether it's possible to be more specific without missing so many exceptions, as you pointed out.

  3. Awesome comments. Made a post about them. I agree with your points, and like the subjective definitions of quality.