Sunday, 11 January 2009

Gameplay, back to square one…

The definition of gameplay is something that is always questioned. What does it mean by gameplay, what do you do with it, how does it affect a game. Well, sometimes it seems that it’s just a description to try and sell a game or its invented to describe lots of aspects that make up a game. I have always considered it to be a description of the overall experience and the game mechanics. It is what happens in the game, what needs to be done by the player and most importantly what makes them keep playing. Games such as Call of Duty 4 have two gameplay experiences, the first being the main storyline of the game. Playing as either (SAS) ‘SOAP’ MacTavish or (Marine) Sgt Jackson fighting against Russian ultra-nationalists and Middle-Eastern Rebels. This would be the main gameplay, the reason for playing the game (that along with the fact that it’s an FPS shooter based on today’s times). The second gameplay experience is the multiplayer side of the game, what is achieved when playing against other people over the Internet. With Call of Duty 4 the ‘Perks’ and weapon upgrades change the way the multiplayer is played since players are constantly changing their combat technique.

With Gameplay being a simple description of the overall game aspects resulting in a good experience, there can therefore be no rules to set what makes good gameplay and what doesn’t. The rules apply to the various aspects;
• How long is the game?
• What is the ‘Difficulty curve’ like?
• Is there a story, and if so is it entertaining and crucial to the game?
• What is expected from the players?

The list goes on ranging from character development to overall graphics. Gameplay for me will always be the description for the experience and what is expected. For others, they may perceive this as something else. Most of the time people’s understanding of gameplay focuses on individual aspects of a game rather than all of them. Whatever it is, I believe the true definition will never be subjected to a single sentence and will rely more on theory.

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