The Personal Method that I Use to Rate Games
This is an explanation of my thought process and key considerations that I take when reviewing a game.
Video games are, and always will be, the main source of entertainment in my life. They are the main expenditure of my income; my most preferable procrastination tool and the biggest bane of my productivity. In fact, I would much rather be playing a game right now, rather than writing this article on games, so I'll try and keep this article fairly short.
Every player is entitled to their opinion on a video game, since everyone has different preferences and interests. For this reason, people will have different methods of justification as of why they do or do not like a game. This article describes the major key points that I consider when playing a game.
Obviously something that every person has always considered is the price of the game (unless someone else is buying it for you). I'm sure parents or people on a tight budget will appreciate price being a key consideration. Firstly, a game obviously isn't a priority spending item, crucial to your survival (although the thousands of hours I've spent playing games could probably say otherwise). But when you buy a game, you consider whether it's worth the money.
One thing I've noticed as I've grown up is how the price of games has risen dramatically. As a child, I can remember my dad complaining about a game costing twenty pounds. This was before anything like expansion packs and DLCs existed, which can sum a full game's price over a hundred pounds nowadays, despite the base game itself costing sixty pounds. Anyway, I digress.
Before I even play a game, I'm already judging it, thinking "why should I buy it?" I will try to formulate an opinion on the game based on everything I know about it so far. It could be the sequel to a game that I really loved; or the trailer may be massively appealing to me if it is displaying a type of genre or theme that interests me.
When I was a kid, the price didn't really matter to me, since my parents were the ones buying the games for me. But now the money is coming from my wallet, it's safe to say that I'm somewhat more reluctant to fork out a massive amount of money on a game until I think I will get my money's worth, which is determined by how long I can play that game for without getting bored, and how well I can return to it.
I will explain how I determine how a fun a game is in the following headings.
A game's purpose is, well, it's a game; it's designed to be fun. Games engage our mind and keep us content and happy. For a game to have good entertainment value, it has to have an interesting concept or mechanic. People are entertained by different types of games, hence those different types exist. It is this constant competitiveness between developers that causes such a push for making games that are entertaining; the more time someone spends playing your game, the less time they're playing someone else's.
Games entertain me for different reasons. But I would greatly say that my engagement to a game is proportional to how I rate its entertainment value.
How does a game manage to keep you glued to a screen for so many hours? Games are so jam-packed with content and things to do that they manage to keep you from writing that college essay for days! Oh crap I forgot about that essay.
I find different games engaging based upon what I want to do in a game. Sometimes I'm in a mood to build a two-dimensional house with machine-gun turrets and traps; other times I feel like driving a racing car or flying a jet.
One thing that I have noticed with games is their ability to keep a user engaged even more through the use of "evolution," in that, as you play more, you further increase your profile in the game. People may be tempted to play a few more levels to try and unlock that cool gun, or they are saving up their in-game currency to buy a nice car, or uhh, cool hat. When a player starts to level up like this, obtaining perks, medals, and other appraisals, the game turns into something more since the player has devoted so much time into building this in-game status.
Another thing that I have noticed with successful games is how there are multiple modes available, thus keeping the game further interesting to the player. I have found this with creative games that offer some sort of career mode but also a sandbox mode to allow you to either test yourself and force you to use your creative ability to work around given problems, or simply be given all the tools required to unleash your creative potential.
So long as a game stays relevant and interesting to a player, the player will play it.
When I use the term "Expandability," I refer to the player's ability to add their own spin to the game. Ever since I was a kid I loved the idea of being able to add my own game characters or levels.
Some games do allow for a certain degree of expandability such as implemented level designers or character designers, however games should also be open to the fact that some people want to be limitless when it comes to tinkering with games.
Mods can provide so much more to a game, prolonging engagement more than the base game ever could. Mods allow some sort of twist or quirk to be added to the game to make it more interesting, and some can change a game entirely.
I am totally on board with developers allowing the community to build upon the base game. However, the base game should not be lacking in quality because of this, as that would be an insulting reliance on the community to do the developers' job for them.
A game can be fun, but something you will also remember it by is the game's contents. A game with good enough music can bring back nostalgia just by listening to it, likewise with the graphics if they hold some sort of unique art style. I'll never find myself differentiating between any first person shooter by the graphics or music since the majority fail to have a unique visual style or soundtrack. Although in terms of content, there are some iconic scenes that have happened in games that I will always remember them for. Content is how people justify a game's entertainment value and engagement. It is what causes you to formulate an opinion on such topics.
If the game is that good, you will probably want to return to it eventually. But how easy is it to do so? Some games have a fantastic single-player campaign that is short lived, and quite difficult to return to, since you already know the series events, twists, secrets, and conclusion.
However, multiplayer games are fantastic for returnability, since you can easilly pick up from where you left off and can continue building your player's profile as you please. I would say that multiplayer competitive games or free-roaming games definitively have the advantage of easier returnability over linear games.
Some games are good to play once, and others you can keep coming back to over and over.
This concludes the main considerations that I take when I decide how good a game is in my head. I'm sure many other people have different considerations or prioritise them differently.