REPLAY VALUE IN GAMES


Generally, when we buy a game, we aren’t really thinking about the second or third time we’ll play it. We’re focused on the immediate goals of exploring our environment and seeing what things are available to us. We like to test out controls and get a sense for how difficult the game may be. What I’ll be focusing on is the time you spend in the end-game. While focusing on the end-game certainly eliminates some types of games from our scope, it’s still a vast subject. To that end, we’ll be looking at anything with a main storyline (or objective) that allows you to continue playing after that.

A lot of popular games today combine a few ideas into their gameplay, but we’ll look at a couple of the broader ones. Firstly, there will be some sort of character that’s guided on a (mostly) linear quest, story, mission, or however you’d like to refer to it. Secondly, there will be content following the conclusion of that story meant to keep the user occupied. Either of these things can be used as a hook to bring a user back to play anything repeatedly, and how that’s accomplished greatly affects how a game ends up being received.

STORYTELLING

Storytelling has been an increasingly bigger part of what games are over time. It started out being a very minor (and usually non-existent) component. A good example is something like Pac Man. The player knew what role was theirs, and who were the ‘bad guys’ but nothing more than that. Now we’re seeing stories that carry the player through their entire experience and shape how the game is carried out. An example where the story was the main driver is a series like BioShock. These games take the user through an immersive city with a clearly explained history.

This process has been compared to making a movie, but with much more immersion because the user is allowed to decide the outcome. Despite these two vastly different games, there’s a key difference in their end-game.

With Pac Man, the user experiences the chain of levels and can immediately repeat the experience with tiered difficulty. Inversely, with the more story-driven games in the BioShock series, only the most committed fans would go through the same sequence of events again.

END-GAME CONTENT

With the above in mind for storylines, we get to the point where the user usually asks themselves: Now What? In most cases, this question was answered with an underwhelming “Nothing, really”. The rest of the time, the extremes exist where there’s little emphasis on end-game or high emphasis. The examples in this case are too lengthy to list, and there’s many ways that end-game content is utilized. The most common of those, however, are as follows:

  • Micro-transactions

  • Achievements

  • Leaderboards

  • Multiplayer

  • Downloadable Content (DLC)

  • More playable characters

  • Extra missions

WRAPPING UP

The replay value of games is an effect I’ve had the pleasure of studying myself in the past with the accompaniment of a Blog. Through that time, I chronicled my progress and thoughts on Call of Duty and EVE Online for a period of two weeks. It’s always interesting to see what features keep your attention and what others may have adverse effects on your desire to continue playing.

If you would like to learn more about Pathways and our continued commitment to gaming and eLearning, feel free to check out our website at http://www.pathwaystrainingandelearning.com/ . We are always looking for innovative ways to combine the excitement of games with the satisfaction of learning!

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Toronto, ON

Canada

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