Though many different types of gamers exist, people who play games are often lumped into one large category. But not every player enjoys every kind of game—some people like fast-paced action, while other people like slower, more emotional work. Playing games that you enjoy is obviously a good thing, but limiting yourself to one genre without trying something new may mean that you’re missing out on your next new favorite.
“Cinematic games” as a descriptor might call to mind games that are based around heavy cutscene use and epic stories, but that’s not all the term can mean. Film and video games have always been linked—they’re two of the most popular visual media types, and the visual style and storytelling of film often influences some of our favorite games. Whether it comes through in recreated shots, thematic elements, or other inspirations, film and television often inform the way that games look and feel.
The best video game stories can stick with us forever. Games that we played when we were young can still have an impact on how we think of stories, particularly due to their interactive nature. Though everybody likes something a little different in their games, there are still some key elements that typically make up the best video game stories.
What makes a good story isn’t the same across all media, but many elements are consistent across the board. In games, those elements must integrate seamlessly with gameplay. A story alone isn’t enough, if the gameplay is lacking; games can function with a bare-bones story, but the best are a seamless blend of both narrative and gameplay.
Video game deaths are usually a symbol of failure—if you’ve died, you’ve probably done something wrong. And when it comes to enemies, death means you’ve overcome a challenge. With most games now allowing for frequent saves and reloads, however, the gravity of these lessons has lost its weight, and the sting of deaths has lessened.
That’s not true for every game, though. Developers can be as daring with video game deaths as they are with any other mechanic, giving more power to each death or making it feel less important, depending on what suits the gameplay best. Video game deaths can be powerful, helping shape the story, gameplay, and atmosphere, depending on how they’re implemented. Continue reading
While some game franchises get new entries year after year, others sit in limbo for some time, making players wonder if they’ll ever see another entry. The length of time it takes to develop a game, on top of monetary concerns and personal interest, can mean that games languish interminably, with fans uncertain whether they’ll ever get a sequel. Continue reading
Open world games are some of the most popular of the moment. Games that weren’t open world before are getting in on the trend, creating worlds that can be explored at the player’s leisure rather than funneling them along through a storyline. Despite the popularity and prevalence of the trend, that doesn’t mean it’s right for every game—using open level design instead of true open worlds can have much of the same effect but while still giving some drive to a main plotline.
Beating games is a key part of the gamer experience, but as games get more complex, what actually constitutes beating a game has begun to change. Many games are no longer as linear as they once were, and the addition of collectibles, challenges, and multiplayer has muddied the water as to what beating games really means.
Some of our favorite modern games were inspired by others that came before them. Like familiar tales that we see again and again in books and movies, game clones give a fresh take on our favorite stories by outfitting them with improved mechanics, new weaponry, or deeper storylines. So what is it that makes a good clone from a bad one, and how can we tell the difference? It’s a delicate combination of familiarity, innovation, and quality.
Stealth games rely on characters being sneaky and secretive as they seek to avoid conflict, rather than confronting it head-on. But not all stealth games play alike—there are many different ways to handle stealth as a mechanic, and not all of them feel the same to the discerning player.
Every video game genre has its cliches, and shooters are no exception. In fact, because shooters are one of the most popular genres, their cliches are more noticeable than in some other genres—to outsiders, it can sometimes appear that games are nothing but shooter cliches.
But video game cliches are an opportunity for developers to improve and subvert player expectations. Because cliches are familiar, it’s what we’ve come to expect—lots of random boxes and ammo mean you’re going to be in a shootout soon, and a Gatling gun means you’re likely to take out waves of enemies—playing off of those expectations can make a player excited even about overly familiar video game cliches.