Matyl K, The Sacred Heart Language College
It is evident that the video game industry is the fastest growing industry from $10 billion in 1990 to almost $135 billion in 2018. Arguably, this is a result of their ability to engage and transfix people, achieved by the emotional reward that they offer: feelings of ambition and achievement. Video games can be very influential, especially in childhood and there are often many factors responsible for their success. However, it is clear that there are several components of a video game that make it particularly successful.
Firstly, a successful game is often composed of an intriguing storyline with a set goal and several obstacles and challenges which increase the difficulty in reaching this goal. Having unique, creative and varied worlds and characters can increase the interest of players as it prevents it from being too repetitive and therefore boring. Furthermore, the storyline must be clear and understandable, focused on enough, but not too many characters. Grand Theft Auto 5 is an example of a storyline-driven game, with just under 100 million sales. Players must complete missions in order to progress through the story. The plot focuses on three main characters and the chaotic events in their personal lives. The purpose is to obtain the most money and best possessions and attracts a vast number of players as a result of the captivating storyline and frequent action involved. Consequently, an engaging story may be viewed as an essential part of a successful video game.
However, some games may replace a storyline with a more direct target and the opportunity to progress to more challenging levels. In addition, it is important that a game has a demanding but achievable target. This should be challenging enough that it is not too simple and therefore boring, but also not difficult to the point that it repeatedly frustrates the player and discourages them from playing. Many popular games have proven that a complex story is not necessarily required; an effective game may have a simple aim and yet able to engross players. A well-known example of such a game is Tetris, with over 170 million copies sold. Its aim is to progress through levels by creating lines with blocks, called tetrominoes, so that the line clears. It was developed in the Soviet Union in 1984 and is still the most sold video game. This achievement is down to its replayability and it is a significant example of how a simple, addictive game can result in great success.
Challenge is an essential aspect of successful games as it prevents the game from being too simplistic and causing boredom. The most effective games often appeal to the competitive nature of people. Competing against other players as well as your own personal best is an attractive quality of video games. Moreover, a challenge increases interest as it provides a sense of achievement while climactic pressure situations evoke thrill and excitement. For example, a timed situation or competitions with other players increases emotional engagement and loss arouses determination in players to defeat the challenge. This is further strengthened by the concept of rewards. Multiple long and short term aims keep players engaged while more and better items are gained over time. The possibility of unlocking new and rarer levels and items excites people, who are often willing to pay money to achieve the emotional rewards offered. Amazingly, people spend $8 billion a year buying virtual items which only exist in a game which reinforces the value of this emotional reward.
To conclude, the concept of challenges and rewards is the driving force of video games as people play games to obtain the emotional reward that they provide. Games must consist of variety and creativity in order to be successful and unique themes and ideas contribute to the replayability of video games. Personally, I believe that the storyline of a game is an essential factor in determining its success. For example, unsurprisingly, Super Mario Bros. has sold almost 41 million copies subsequent to its engaging story which is appropriate to all ages. However, it can be argued that there is no one defining answer to what ensures the success of a video game. Evidently, a game’s success is a combination of the quality of visuals, its usability and undeniably the marketing of the product. Overall, different games will appeal to different players.
Ana S, The Sacred Heart Language College
Andre F, Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School
On the surface, a successful video game is one that is extremely popular, one that has a large profit margin and also is one with a USP. However for a video game to be truly successful it needs to be accessible and applicable in society.
Firstly, a successful video game is typically one that has a unique story and that makes it more marketable. For example, arguably the most successful video game ever, Tetris has sold approximately 170 million copies. This video game was revolutionary in 1984 as the simplicity of stacking shapes made of 4 blocks became highly addictive. Furthermore unique storylines also make a video game successful. Popular franchises such as the Harry Potter series have converted their movies into video games where the player can study at Howgwarts and not only does the video game become widely popular but also generates a larger fan base for the movie itself both generating a large income that makes the franchise worth almost $1 billion
Secondly, games that are free, although it may sound weird, are very successful. This is because it gets rid of exclusivity in games meaning people from all ranges of wealth can enjoy the game. For example, as I have learned in this programme, free video games entice both paying and non-paying players and these players, seeing that they enjoy the game, would be encouraged to spend on buying new levels and customisations in order to boost their gaming experience. Fortnite has gone viral and this is because Epic Games have intelligently made the game free but advertise purchasable add-ons that make the game much more exciting.
In addition, video games that have a clear benefit outside of the virtual world make it that much more successful. For example, video games with a “choose your own story” format potentially could help players with decision making in the future.
Some video games also have other noticeable psychological/cognitive benefits. For example research at Oxford University discovered that Tetris can also be used to prevent the debilitating flashbacks of post-traumatic stress disorder. This form of cheap therapy for sufferers is extremely beneficial. Medical benefits of video games should mean they are highly successful.
Lastly, before this programme I was unknown to the different aspects and benefits of video games. I believe that if these video game companies make these advantageous aspects of the known to the consumer they would do much better in terms of their successes. For example, parents buying video games for their child would be more inclined to buy a game that improves memory or coordination. This programme has opened my eyes to the large amount of work that goes into the production of video games and I believe this work should be put on show for them to be commended on their efforts. So next time you are purchasing a video game don’t only look at how popular a game is but take into account how it could benefit you.
Aryaman G, Greenford High School
Success, to most people, just seems like: success = lots of £££. This thus undermines all the processes and ingredients that are compounded together to make a successful game. However, when looking at a malleable topic such as success, there are a cornucopia of factors and variables that determine the amount of success a video game may achieve. Google defines success as, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. The ‘aim’ can change indefinitely between game developers or even individuals, from getting 10 players to earning a profit of £100 million in the first week of release. However, I will be focusing my response on the most vital, in my opinion, elements to building a successful video game.
1. A Strong Player Base
The player base are the fans who play and look forward to players usually know how the game can be made more enjoyable for themselves and future players so implementing feedback from them in a positive way into the game can easily ensure help the game succeed or at least do well. This, however, as a developer is not something that they can control easily; it’s heavily dependant on the decisions made during game development. One way they can possibly catalyse this is by releasing free to play games. The main aim of free to play games is usually to amass any following, as this type of game can be accessed by literally anyone, who would be available to support future projects from the developer via optional donations or a start-up. Often the community know more about gameplay of the game than the developers as they may not spend days playing their own game in a recreational fashion. Furthermore, if you have many players anticipating and backing your next game you can hope to rake in a lot of money (GTA V made £800 million in the first week of its release, undoubtedly due to the loyal fanbase Rockstar has built over the last 21 years). Clearly, gaining such a fanbase is not easy and game developers must have this on their mind as the primary area to develop their company.
No matter which one of the myriads of genres the game is a part of, gameplay is undoubtably a significant factor if a developer wishes to create successful game. Gameplay consists of story and how players interact with their environment. Firstly, the story. Video game stories must allow the player to feel like they have control over outcomes of in-game events and making them feel sensations of responsibility as opposed to just reading a book or watching a movie whose outcomes are written in stone, or paper. Some stories are based off one character but may not fully stick with that character and can feature a duo (Ratchet and Clank) or even a trio (GTA V). Also, the story must be riveting, unique and memorable, quite cliché but true. Next are the interactions of players in the ecosystem of their game. Recently, the influx of open world games can be credited to replayability. Games that only have a story mode where after the story there is nothing really to do apart from replay the story. At this point players have been satisfied and believe they’ve got their money’s worth or are unhappy because the story was too short. Implementing open-world gameplay allows player to continue playing even after the main story has terminated. Changing a typical action and altering it in a distinctive way could make it an iconic game (Just Cause’s physics defying wingsuit and grapple gun provides a rapid traversal method).
3. Graphics and Development
Graphics are possibly the most vital part of game development, like a building’s foundation. It’s what the players see from characters to the sky, shadows to lighting, all playing a role in how the game feels and plays. Rapid advances in hardware and game engines leads to more games attempting to simulate reality to immerse the player in the game. Graphics also don’t always have to provide a realistic experience or be in a certain style to be great. Ratchet and Clank is graphically successful as it’s graphics matche the art style and help to tell the story of the game. Games can still be successful if the graphics work to enhance the overall experience and fit the art style; don’t have to be bound to reality. Indie game developers don’t have the money or equipment to constantly provide an AAA game so as long as they do the best with what they have they can still create a prosperous game. Graphics also don’t ensure success for a game. During my research I came across a game called ‘Ryse’ which supposedly boasts some of the most beautiful and realistic graphics of modern games but didn’t receive too much positivity due to its poorly designed gameplay and repetitive, short combat.
In conclusion different player enjoy different games of different genres and art styles. No game is quintessential. Not everyone likes FPS games like Call of Duty or story-driven games like Uncharted, both contain a healthy mixture of archetypal, vital elements of a successful game. This helps these games to be appealing to large groups of people and still be successful clearly depicting how success falls under a broad spectrum yet consiting of certain key elements.
Devika L, Hazelwick School
Video games. Almost everyone has played some form of video game, even if it is something as simple as Candy Crush or Crossy Road. These games even if they are just idly passing a couple of extra minutes on the bus, offer some kind of distraction from real life.
However the best games ( in my opinion), are the kind that properly grip you in, the kind that has people pulling all nighters staring red- eyed at a screen. The kind that illicit lectures from parents about how you are wasting your life away. What differs these games from the others is the story, the world really needs to snatch you and envelop you into it. Just like a book or a tv show (other distractions) there are multiple things that are required to truly create a word that is good enough to make you give up real life contact;; settings; character; and most importantly the story.
Imagine this, a game with spectacularly amazing visuals, the shadows on the each blade of grass directly imitating real life. The coolest most ‘savage’ post apocalyptic character with battle scars, a menacing plethora of weapons and a health bar that seems to never run low. Now here’s the catch- the whole mission of the game is to save an injured cupcake. Now this may leave most players unsatisfied. Yet if it was the other way around, a low resolution game with an amazing story line, people may be more inclined to forgive.. A proper story line gives the gamer a purpose, makes them feel like what they’re doing in this fictional world is worthwhile.
An intricate story line should also offer up Easter eggs in the games, tiny little details that only the keenest eyes can observe.Something small for the super fans to find because they deserve it for playing the game so religiously. Something to inspire fan theories and speculation to build up mystery and to inevitably lead to a sequel to make even more money.
Building a brand may seem like a desperate corporate move to extort as much money from this franchise, each new edition deteriorating in quality. But if done correctly it can help dig deeper and deeper into this new world, it gives the characters backstories encouraging your or fight more valiantly for them and makes you more and more invested. So much so that you’re not just playing for casual entertainment, you’re playing because it means something to you.
Despite all this it can be said that gaming is sometimes just a fun group experience not some heroic saga filled with ten minute dialogues. But the next time your playing FIFA, think why you’re playing this particular . Rather than creating a fictional story for you to fall into, they’re using a real life story that everyone fantasises as their own reality.. You and your friends together living out your fantasies of being the best football players in the world. You love the feeling of replicating the actions of your idols. And you become so invested. So obsessed with becoming the best. Gathering the best players. Even spending extra money on in game purchases to assist your fictional team. And you realise that what they have done is just created a story you want to be part of.
Ishwinder S, Greenford High School
Cumulating rapidly is the number of video games that are being developed; a plethora of these have emerged from the depths of the unknown to becoming some of the world’s most well renowned video games. But how did these games abruptly infiltrate the gaming society and dominate the popularity rankings? Intrigued by this thought very much, this shrewdly raises the question to what these games have that allow for their immense climb to success in the industry.
Predominantly, this is due to how these games remove he stereotypical view that gaming is harmful, addictive and unhealthy. It is compellingly preposterous that we believe unconditionally in this standpoint on the effects of gaming. This is most aptly demonstrated through the research carried out by Imperial College London (2017) that stated that, in fact, 87% of child gamers – aged 7-11 – develop multiple useful skills, such as increased brain coordination and problem-solving skills. Due to the increasing integration of technology in our lives on a daily basis, these games are actually preparing the next generations to adapt to their future, professional environments much easier as they will subconsciously gain skills that would make them excel in their professional ambitions. This clearly reinforces how video games are used to enhance the developing minds of the youth, which elicits idea that this is one reason that leads to a game’s success.
It is abundantly clear that video games nowadays consist of aspects that allow the gamer to use their creativity and imagination in order to: solve a problem a certain stage; build their own worlds or characters that allows progression to the next level or design their own version the game using different features. This is most effectively evident in the current number 1 game in the world – ‘Fortnite’ – as illustrated from the reviews of IGN. From this, it is patently obvious that another reason why successful video games are in such positions is due to the edification the gamer receives and the allowance for them to indulge into the game. By allowing the gamer to play their own game, they begin to feel very excited as the game, thus, doesn’t really have any limits for the gamer. Perhaps, this factor in a game’s success could notably be accentuating to us that video games have no barriers, hence, allowing for us to dive into the game and proceed as we please to.
The final significant factor on a game’s success is the cornucopias of profit they raise. Recalling the earlier points, the sincere enjoyment that gamers gain leads to them playing very regularly – some even become addicted potentially. Consequently, the multiple use of video games indisputably highlights how much money is generated for the company of the game. This money can subsequently be used to improve the quality of the game or add extra features to please the appetite of new gamers or further enhance the experience of current gamers.
Overall, I unequivocally believe that the improved brain coordination, abundance of edification and significant profit margins are all factors that make video games successful.
Jay K, Greenford High School
In order for a game to be successful it needs to appeal to a wide audience of players. This can be achieved by making the game free so that anyone with access to the internet would be intrigued to play. An example of this is the game Fortnite which amassed a staggering 125 million players in just 6 months – becoming one of the most iconic videogames of all time. It is likely that if an individual gets a game for free they would be more comfortable spending money on in-game purchases. This is again displayed through Fortnite which reportedly earned $3 billion in 2018 alone. Another key factor supplementing Fortnite’s success is the fact that it appeals to all ages as it is neither too graphic nor too childish. This game revolutionised the gaming industry through allowing players on all platforms to play together which I believe is the future of gaming. Ultimately, I think the most effective ways of attracting new players are making the game free, worldwide, suitable for all ages and cross-platform.
Indubitably, keeping current players interested is just as vital as gaining more players. This can be executed by varying when players receive rewards so they feel intrinsically motivated to play, rather than extrinsically. If people simply play for a reward, this can cause the “over justification effect” which is when a game is played for the sake of receiving a reward rather than for pleasure. Adopting a variable schedule for rewards would entice people to play the game for the actual game itself.
Compelling storylines are also essential as they emotionally attach players to the game. A successful game will contain multiple plots which coincide to move the game forward. This connection between player and virtual world allows the player to indulge in the game. As challenges are completed, the player feels a sense of satisfaction due to the release of dopamine. This urges the player to continue playing as they desire a greater feeling of content. This can however lead to addiction so there should be a feature in games which allows you to play them for an appropriate amount of time each day. When this limit is reached, the game will become inaccessible to you for the rest of the day to avoid addiction. A study conducted by the University of Oxford (2016) surveyed 19,000 people from the UK, U.S.A, Canada and Germany to discover how many had experienced video game addiction. 1% of the sample showed at least 5 out of 9 addiction symptoms and experienced significant distress when not playing, classifying them as an addict. This may seem insubstantial but it is estimated there are 2.2 billion gamers so if only 1% are addicted this is still 220 million people!
Overall, a successful video game is enthralling for all age groups worldwide as well as being easily accessible. Additionally, it should connect the player to the game and I believe the next step is to limit the permitted gaming each day.
Mayze Jayne O, Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School
For many, video games are a way to switch off from the arduous task of daily life. For many, video games are a way to connect with friends, strangers and fellow enthusiasts, to unite and strive for one goal. Video games have been around for over 70 years and their popularity has only increased, but what does make a good video game is an ever evolving concept that we still seem to question today.
To begin with, a story is essential in developing a video game. If i said ‘storyline’ I’m sure that many people would automatically think of violence. But behind ‘Call of duty’ and ‘Fortnite’ is a story that is simple enough to capture the minds of 8 year olds, but complex enough to be able to captivate all people, regardless of age. It must be simultaneously a form of fantasy to capture imagination, but also real and mundane to be able to relate to all players. Therefore, although the violence and aggression can be a form of enticement and attraction, behind all successful video games is a story that is so relatable yet fantastical and so simple yet complex that it is able to captivate every individual and help each person escape from stress and life.
Next, with every successful video game there is an aim, a challenge and a reward. There is no mindlessly scrolling or passively playing, but there is always a goal and an aim which is what one would work for. There is always an element of challenge that is true, but at the same time, the reward for completing this makes it all worth it. A producer must precisely balance these two things and the reward and finish is the ultimate key to a successful game. If we relate it to life, what is the point of driving if your not going anywhere, or what is the purpose of going to work if you didn’t get paid or satisfied. Every game needs a challenge to keep us interested but it is the reward that is the ultimate triumph and best part of a video game.
Finally, it is the way in which we one is able to connect with the world that makes the ultimate video game. You can choose to play with friends, play with strangers or play alone and that choice is vital for success. Each person has the same goal as you and each person has the same hobby as you. Thus the ability to connect with people no matter age, genre or race is the way to really allow your video game to stand out and truly enhance the experience of graphics, challenge and a story.
To conclude, to develop a successful video game, it is essential that whilst having good graphics, regular updates and a good pricing system, it is imperative that the story is interesting, there is a challenge and connecting to the rest of the world is an option.
Milo M, Dorothy Stringer School
On 25th July 2017, like every other day, hundreds of games were released on various platforms. However, unlike every other day, there was one game which became so popular so ridiculously quickly that in its first three days, it made £1 million and went on to record the largest ever annual revenue in 2018 (just under £2 billion). This game is called Fortnite and is completely free to play.
So how has Fortnite made so much money? This illusion of costing nothing makes it very attractive. It is easy for beginners to get to grips with and is highly sociable. An amazing plot draws in millions of players. This is where the magic begins. As players progress, they are shown extra gimmicks and extensions that they can buy for a small fee. They may run out of the in-game currency but are encouraged to use real money to buy more coins. These in-game purchases are where Fortnite makes its fortune. Every day, iOS users alone spend over £1.2 million on such products. This is why Fortnite is regarded as one of the most successful games in the industry.
But what is ‘success’? Should success be based on how much money is made? From a business point of view, it certainly should be. Although what is most important for society as a whole? Is a violent game that causes an increase in anti-social behaviour successful?
In 2015, the American Psychological Association released a report on fighting-games and how they supposedly cause players to become much more violent in everyday life. They stated that, although ‘there was no single risk factor’ to blame for aggression, violent video games did contribute. As well as increasing the likelihood of rough behaviour and ‘aggressive cognitions’, violent themes were said to be an influence in motivating crime. Furthermore, these games are believed to be partly responsible for horrific youth attacks, like the USA school shootings that are all too often in the news. A game that causes the deaths of innocent people can hardly be called ‘successful’.
Then there is the important issue of addiction. In June 2018, the World Health Organisation listed ‘gaming disorder’ in its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Many claim video games are detrimental to physical and mental health. By playing them, people are missing out on exercise and even school or work. Returning to the Fortnite example, according to DMR, 20.5% of players have skipped class and 35% have missed work in order to play.
I believe that for a game to be successful, it must meet multiple criteria. Even if the theory that video games cause violence and addiction is only a conjecture, I feel the companies who are making billions annually should dedicate at least some of their profits to protecting our wellbeing. Whilst profits are crucial, the mental health of players and the safety of those they interact with cannot be overlooked.
Success should not cost lives.
Santhosh T, Greenford High School
A quintessential successful videogame requires many aspects that collectively will ensure that it is a huge success. One key aspect games is the game play. Evidently, there are many categories within this to allow for there to be an enjoyable gaming experience for gamers or casual players. One major section of this concerns its controls, which acts as the bridge that connects each player to the hedonistic euphoria that they receive when immersed in a great game. Often controls should be created so that they seem easy to pick up and intuitively let the user to carry out their motives without heavy strain but stays as a difficult thing to master. Therefore this allows for players to effortlessly enjoy and become immersed in any game however it also poses a challenge as it takes time and effort to truly conquer it, established by the fact that about 60 million PC steam users have paired up with the easier to use controllers rather than the more complex keyboard.
Additionally, attractive visuals also play a huge part in this. Often this can vary from intricate settings and vibrant colours to small tonal variations and minor glitches. Distinctly, some games do not need such requirements and in fact rely upon their interesting game play and originality to create successful games. Blatantly, this is best demonstrated by none other than Mine craft – a game that seemingly has repulsive graphics however, its sure brilliance allowed it to be the second best selling video game of all time and also had around 91 million active players daily around mid-2018. Even though great graphics aren’t a necessity for successful games, it is complementary in allowing the game play to be better, often because of the fact that certain games require for there to be grater resolution and graphics to allow the gamer to have better clarity of what is happening and also for it to be helpful for the controls to be better. This can be seen via first person shooter games which need such requirements so that users can easily spot their opponents and not have any faults when directly in combat with one another – perfectly exhibited by the Call of Duty series.
Additional to such fundamentals, there are other key aspects such as: in-game and background music which allows us to truly get engrossed in the game via more than one sense; a creative and imaginative story yet in fact it often ends with a pretty simplistic goal, as illustrated with the iconic Mario game series; iconic and original features such as the building aspect of Fortnite (one of the most played and greatest games of 2019) and relatable and interesting characters, which when paired with a good story, allows for the users to have a closer connection to the game.
However, in my honest opinion, these factors are merely basic portions of any promising game. The real success is actually down to what type of audience it is targeting and how the sections listed above contribute to it. Predominantly, this is because all gamers are unique – one gamers’ disgust and abhorrence could be another’s aid to attain Elysium. Subsequently, it is focussed on how well the game utilises the key aspects above to best appeal its audience.
Conclusively, successful video games are games that masterfully exhibit primary requirements nut nonetheless also have original and amazing additional features to allow it to catch the users’ eye and stand out.
Shathuria G, Bentley Wood High School
A good story is key
A great story can keep the player engaged in the world of the video game. Players should feel attached to the characters and want to continue playing to see how the story unfolds. It makes the video game interactive and it would draw the player in, making them want to keep on playing. Most successful video games use the quest as a plot device to drive the narrative forward. The characters will often find themselves on a perilous journey and having to face a number of different challenges to reach their ultimate goal.
A good game-play is also key
Games at their core are meant to be interactive, a way for a person to immerse themselves in the world. Unlike a movie where you’re just along for the ride, a video game gives the player complete control. If the control you give them is old-fashioned/out-of-date and not fun to play then you won’t have a great game. It doesn’t matter if the game-play is complex or simple, it needs to be solid. It should feel like it’s doing what it’s meant to do, with clear controls and good feedback to the player.
Using Language to Build Characters and Worlds are important
There are a number of different components that are needed to be brought together to bring the spectacular worlds – that video games are set in – to life. Most people would say that one of the most important elements to create this spectacular world is language.
In a video game, the world consists of a number of important elements. This includes the visual space, the characters that navigate it and the sound-scape. The sound-scape involves music, sound effects and speech.
Video games make use of languages in a number of different ways, which include;
- Sociolinguistics is concerned with the social meaning of language – how you say it, rather than what you say. This involves, for instance, the study of accents as well as their associated stereotypes. This is very useful in character-building resources. The voice in which a character speaks with provides clues about their loyalty, their motivation, their identity and many more. There is no need to state this information explicitly.
- Designing a Constructed Language (also known as a conlang) requires an understanding of all of the basic principles of languages/linguistics. This includes phonetics (the study of sounds), phonology (the study of sound systems), syntax (the study of sentence structures) and semantics (the study of meaning).
- Creating a world with these details makes it more believable and interesting as there is always more for players to discover.
Maths in video games
Video games are fundamentally underpinned by mathematical concepts. This includes algebra, trigonometry and calculus. All games require some form of mechanics, whether discrete or continuous, and these often involve randomisation, conversions and feedback loops. A large part of the design process involves balancing risks with rewards. Video games runs on numbers, shapes and logic.