Great games that I have played and enjoyed:
1. Killer Instinct (2013): One of the games that I have enjoyed playing in the past is Killer Instinct. I like Killer Instinct because it is a fighting game and has one-on-one combat. While there are earlier versions that have been released that I have played (Nintendo), the one I remember recently is through Xbox. One of the first noticeable qualities of the game is that there is a variety of characters to choose from when playing. Schell (2015) evaluates the nature of game characters and finds that “players are crying out for more—they want their games to have richer, more meaningful characters and storylines” (p. 347). The game manufactures were able to design compelling game characters that also included detailed background storylines. You can view the characters and their storylines through the game’s website. When you click on a specific character, it will show you that characters traits and storyline providing more interesting character relationships for the player to enjoy.
The game also has a great balance of skill versus chance (Schell, 2015, p. 214). Since each player has distinct advantages, there is some chance as to the outcome of the fight depending on the player you chose versus your opponent. However, there is also great skill involved because the player can use automatic combos, ultra-combos, finishing moves, and combo breakers during a fight to battle their opponent. All of these options are based on the player’s choice and strategy and introduce the element of skill to the game. Another reason I like the game is that it is not too long that it becomes boring or I lose focus. There are clear goals in the game and the task (to win the fight) is evident. Additionally, there is direct feedback. As you play the game, you see your life bar draining if you are losing or you see your opponent’s life bar draining if you are winning. Clear goals and direct feedback are two elements listed by Schell (2015) as maintaining a player’s focus (p. 139).
2. Super Mario Kart: I really like playing Super Mario Kart. When examining Super Mario Kart for game balance, it excels at balancing many aspects of game play as defined by Schell (2015). When looking at “fairness,” the player can choose a character and each has differing capabilities creating an asymmetrical game. However, each character is faced with a variety of obstacles to make the game challenging. It also adds to the player’s ability to control the game experience because they have the choice as to which character they want to play. Additionally, the game is balanced with appropriate layers of challenge and the player is able to choose the difficulty level, as well as single-player or multi-player modes. The characters in the game are the same across all Mario games, like Super Mario Brothers, which creates a memorable brand recognition as well as familiarity with the characters. Growing up with Mario games, I appreciate that the characters remain true to their design across game platforms and game versions. Mario will always look like Mario and Luigi will always look like Luigi, etc. For me this has given me a sense of familiarity and comfort with the game, as well as nostalgia when I play older versions. This is one of the reasons I like this game. Additionally, the game is simplistic in nature but still provides mental stimulation, which is Schell’s balance type #11 (p. 226). The ruleset is simple and clearly defined but there are multiple, complex game situations.
Great games that I have played and did not enjoy:
1. Tomb Raider: One of the main reasons that I dislike Tomb Raider is because I find it too expansive of a 3D space involving too much problem/puzzle solving and less linear play. This is actually interesting that I feel this way because it is in direct contradiction to Schell (2015) who reports, “Studies have shown that males generally have stronger skills of spatial reasoning than females…accordingly, puzzles that involve navigating 3D spaces are often quite intriguing to males…” (p. 122). I really dislike puzzle solving in game play because it involves a lot of reading of onscreen text or time in completing the level. However, that is just a personal reaction and most likely due to the time involved rather than skills or ability to complete the game. Schell (2015) states that a game is made for a player and the variety in games available is necessary to attract the various demographics who enjoy gaming (p. 118). In younger demographics, time is less of an issue and this game might be more enjoyable. However, in older demographics, time is more of a precious commodity and longer or more extensive games detract from career or family responsibilities (p. 119). Therefore, this is a good reminder that it is necessary to consider the target audience or demographic when designing a game.
2. The Sims: The first reason why I dislike games like The Sims is due to the lack of a purpose or a clearly defined goal. There is not a set purpose or task to complete but it is more of a free-for-all, building, designing, playing combination. Schell (2015) found that games like The Sims that have more multitasking skill involved have a stronger female appeal, which might explain my initial dislike for the game (p. 123). Another reason that players might like the game according to Schell (2015) is the joy of creation (p. 406). All of this depends on the reason the player is playing the game to begin with. As chapter nine details, “the game is made for a player,” and game design might vary depending on what a player wants. Males and females have different interests (p.120). Schell (2015) describes Bartle’s taxonomy of player types, which includes achievers, explorers, socializers, killers (p. 129). I am more of an “achiever,” in that I want to achieve the goals of the game. Since The Sims does not really have clearly defined goals, it is not the most suitable game for my ‘player type.’ However, explorers or socializers would enjoy playing The Sims.
Source: Schell, J. (2015). The art of game design: A book of lenses. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.