What Makes a Good Game? Conclusions

Before I get into the final verdict on what makes a good game, let me first thank you fantastic readers for taking your mornings with me to look at these issues. Suffice it to say, after several weeks of examination into the various aspects of a game and how they can be used well, let us take this week to gather these thoughts and distill them into a final conclusion.

Now through these weeks there has been a few consistent threads that you may have picked up on. The first of these threads is that the design intent is key to a good game. If a game is not designed with a purpose or vision in mind, then the resulting mechanics, theme, and interactions will be lacking and disjointed from one another. This intent can vary greatly from game to game and can encompass mechanics, ideas, or even theme and story. To be more specific, a good design intent is a great starting place for the design of a game when executed well results in a game that provides a unique experience, that is not more complex than the intent requires, and the mechanics match that intent. This was explained more fully in the first few entries of the series but suffice it to say it is a key part to a good game.

The second aspect of a good game is that a good game’s mechanics and turns provide for meaningful decisions. This comes from tight, well thought out mechanics, turns that are not longer than necessary, and that they promote interaction with the game itself. In a good game the mechanics reward playing the game and making informed choices. This means that the rules and actions fall into the design intent and reinforce it ie if you win by not playing then the mechanics are not good. For the turns, each phase, each action has a meaning for the player and does not overextend the actions an individual must do on their turn. Each turn feels exciting in a good game and that players are moving towards their goal. Finally, as mentioned previously, in a good game you want to interact with it, it gives you a response for doing what it was designed for.

Finally a good game engages its players. Players are what make a game a game and not a box on a shelf, hence it is fitting that they have an involvement in what makes a good game. As was mentioned earlier, good games have player interactivity with the game itself but their choices should also impact each other. There are many philosophies on how much interactivity and what kinds should be in a game but regardless a good game has some so that the players have to consider each other in the game. Player interaction also comes from ensuring that the amount of downtime in between turns (or being eliminated) is minimized and that players have other options to keep them interested.

To summarize this morning a good game simply starts its design from a solid place, the mechanics promote gameplay and interactivity with the game, and players are engaged with the game itself and each other. In my humble opinion all of this indicates that a good game thinks of its players in its design, who would want to play and why, and keeps them in mind the entire time. But this is just the conclusion of many a morning with you wonderful readers and I would love to have your thoughts!

Have a great morning and enjoy the day!