Blu Spy: What Games Should Give Us

By purchasing a video game, a contract has been created between the game and the gamer which should be fulfilled by both parties. What we, as consumers, provide to the game is obvious: financial incentive in the form of actually purchasing the title. Or, perhaps in the visceral sense, we provide input to the controller and in turn the input is interpreted and provided to the game engine. The game (or its creator, publisher) expects to be played, to be enjoyed, to be beaten, and to be talked about. What, then, are the game’s responsibilities to its players?

First and foremost a game should be entertaining. While videogames might commonly be placed in their own category, they remain a multibillion dollar facet of the entertainment industry and as such should adhere to the basic tenant of entertainment: actually be entertaining. That might sound redundant, but in reality many games lack this crucial component. Perhaps it’s a broken and buggy title released prematurely whose publisher refuses to issue patches, or maybe it’s simply a bad game. Either way, a game devoid of entertainment is a game without purpose which doesn’t deserve to be purchased.

A videogame should provide relief from the everyday. There should be a distinct blurring or even total separation of reality and fantasy; the game should give a unique platform for players to experience and experiment with. Even Grand Theft Auto provides a fantastic detachment from reality in terms of its gameplay. For example, when was the last time a man strolled through downtown with a bazooka over his shoulder without being immediately apprehended? Even if the game’s autonomous setting isn’t entirely novel, the actions achieved by the player are so extraordinary it provides pure dissolution from the everyday. After all, what fun is it to come home from the office and play a game which follows every realistic and societal guideline?

Games should be joyous diversions. This is more specific than simple entertainment; to be a joyous diversion combines the concept of separation from reality with the need to be actually fun. Not every gamer is a masochistic misanthrope who enjoys endless series of ridiculous puzzles or absurd boss battles with no clear solution. There should be a relatively-clear concept of direction in every arena or level and a constructed semblance of accomplishment provided by the game (tutorials, waypoint markers, pop-up hints, and so on). Most of us don’t play games to be punished, we play them to have fun.

Lastly, games should offer worthwhile rewards. What is the point of beating a game if there is no concluding cinematic, unlocked bonus feature, or a final statement? On a smaller scale, there should be rewards given to players for a particularly-challenging action, be it conquering a tricky sequence of puzzles or slaying a tough enemy. Even the simplest of prizes such as in-game monetary drops is sufficient, but even more players should be shown that their persistence will be met with reward. Role-playing games have consistently provided excellent bonuses through items. Unfortunately, inventory systems don’t always fit with other genres such as action or sports games; brutal finishing moves or slick touchdown animations are good trophies in these instances.

A great deal of games do adhere to several of these obligations, but it is rare to come across a title which fulfills all of them. Of course, these are the games we hear about most often: Mass EffectGod of WarFallout 3. So when it’s time to play, think about these points and if the game actually succeeds in its responsibilities.