I have a problem: I’m not all that great at shooting games.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy them, only that the shootout sections of Uncharted 4 made me question how wounded my pride would be if I downgraded the difficulty. While I love the climbing and puzzle-solving, the shooting tests skills I just don’t have—accuracy, response time, the ability to maintain stealth for more than two seconds… That’s not the game’s fault, but, for this player, a little more balance in mechanics would have been greatly appreciated.
Color theory may be one of the foundational principles of art, but, well, I’ve never been an artist. I can enjoy a nice hue like any other person, but when it comes to the function and purpose of color, it takes deliberate concentration to appreciate on more than an aesthetic basis. But when playing certain games, it’s easily apparent that there’s something more profound happening with the color beyond simply being pretty or unappealing. Even I can appreciate that.
Any gamer can talk fondly about the times when we got into the zone, lulled into a zenlike state of concentration thanks to smooth, satisfying mechanics. The hours flew by, and we were mesmerized. This is a psychological phenomenon known as ‘flow’—often associated with a state of focused motivation, immersion, and trance-like enjoyment—and, while it’s tricky for games to guarantee this state, achieving it can make a game more enjoyable all around.
Gaming flow isn’t restricted to soothing games, nor is it limited to fast-paced action. Flow is based on mechanics, meaning any well-designed game is capable of inducing that state of immersion regardless of what those mechanics look like.
Fantasy weapons are beholden to none of the restrictions placed on more realistic weaponry. Rather than seeking to replicate realism, fantasy games can play with magic to make more exciting versions of the tools people might use in real life. That’s not to say that they can’t be realistic—in fact, many of our favorite fantasy weapons are based in reality, albeit with a bit of a twist to them.
These fantasy weapons are a few of our favorites, ranging from the faithfully realistic to the purely magical.
Theorycrafting is a niche interest, but for fans who like their gaming with a side of math and analysis, it’s the ultimate exploration of a game’s potential. “Theorycrafting” refers to the practice of analyzing a game’s armor, weapons, attacks, and other customizations to determine the most effective method of play.
While basing your gameplay around theorycrafting may ruin the fun for some players, others like the logical progression of solving the puzzle of ideal efficiency. Every game offers a different level of customization, but to the theorycrafter, each one is a code just waiting to be cracked.
New Game Plus, where completing a game unlocks powerful features to enjoy in a new playthrough, along with other post-game temptations, keeps players hooked after what might ordinarily be considered a game’s ending. Competition is fierce in the gaming market—though games are typically priced at $60 or less, developers are clamoring to keep players interested for longer periods, tempting them with DLC or additional modes.
This has an interesting effect on the way we play games. Modes like New Game Plus (NG+) encourage us to pursue mastery, not merely beating a game. By raising the stakes and creating more open-ended gameplay with a variety of elements to perfect, games keep us hooked longer. Even if not every player pursues these options, they’re there for those who like them, opening up the opportunity for players to truly master a game, rather than just finish it.
Every gamer has a favorite video game platform. There’s a strong sense of loyalty in any platform’s community, which is great from a unifying perspective, but not so great when it comes to competition. Discussions of which video game platforms are best can rapidly turn heated, as players debate the merits of all the different systems.
Each platform has different strengths, and it’s hard to say which one is objectively the best, when they each serve different audiences. Just as you can’t lug your PC on the bus for a high-speed game of League of Legends, you also can’t expect your phone to deliver something as graphically intense as Lichdom: Battlemage. So what is it that draws players to each individual platform?
Video game movies are nearly always viewed with an air of suspicion, thanks to numerous poor adaptations in the past. But, given the same careful eye and loving hand of other mediums-made-movies, they could be stunning. Video games are both visual and narrative, interactive and passive, giving them a unique position in media; if directors, screenwriters, and actors put enough care into doing them justice, the resulting movies could be something special.
Lists of hopeful video game titles often include the same few blockbuster action titles, but we’re taking a look at some other options that would create some pretty unique film experiences.
Minimaps to help players navigate video game worlds are common, thanks to the current popularity of open worlds. With an open world, you can really immerse yourself in a setting, exploring without the typical invisible walls or limited pathways of earlier gaming generations. Which can be a great thing, but many players find themselves more inclined to navigate not by interacting with and examining the game’s stunning world, but solely by the minimap instead.
Though they’re invaluable for navigating large worlds, they’re also something of a distraction. Most players skip around Skyrim’s‘ setting by using fast travel or heading straight for quest markers, making a useful tool into an indirect encouragement to avoid exploring the painstakingly developed world. Minimaps are one solution to pointing players in the right direction, but not the only one; there are a few different ways that games and players get around virtual spaces without them, making for unique experiences that force you to really consider the world you’re in.
‘Immersive’ is a buzzword often applied to video games, but actually determining what makes a game immersive is a little difficult. It’s a subjective concept that varies from player to player—while some might find the open-ended gameplay of The Sims to be wholly engaging, others require the first-person perspective of a linear shooter like Battlefield. Others still are (rightly) excited about the immersion promised by upcoming VR titles.
An immersive game is not only one that lets us step into the shoes of another person, nor is it solely a game that makes us forget the real world for a while. There are many shades to immersion, each offering something unique to different types of players. These are just a few of the ways games draw us into their worlds, creating experiences where we step outside of the real world, even briefly, and into somewhere different.