I've been a gamer for longer than most viewers of this website have been alive. Heck, I can say the same of the propriaters of this website. This does not mean I am any better or worse than anyone. All it means is that I have tons of experience.
As such, I have learned throughout the ages that some games are just straight up fun. They don't try to be anything else. Are you confused yet? I don't blame you. Here is what I mean:
Games tend to be categorized quite easily. You have your type of game, your genre, your system, your developer, your publisher and on and on and on. Everything falls into such neat little categories. What developers, retailers and companies tend to forget is to describe how fun a certain title must be.
Here is where age and experience tend to come into play. I have followed gaming history since Pong. I kid you not.
There are titles that have advanced gaming and those that have been straight up fun to play.
I will start with Ms Pacman. Why? Because I rarely play an arcade version of this title that isn't fun. Most cabinet owners of this title turn up the speed. Why? A few reasons. But most importantly, in my opinion, is because Ms. Pacman is a riot to play on super-sonic speeds. Thus enticing me to spend more quarters. Anyone who has met me IRL knows that if I see I MPM (Ms PacMan) machine anywhere, I will play it. It draws me in that much.
Fun. Good to know. How does this relate to my title? Gald you asked.
MPM draws me in. Holds my attention. Makes me want more. Companies strive for this. It is there goal (the intelligent companies, at least.) How does this translate to modern times?
MMOs are desperate to learn this trick since they are based on monthly subscriptions or virtual sales in the case of F2P models. The more they can entice gamers, the more money they make.
MMOs aside, how can consoles benefit from this?
Ah...here comes the meat, finally. (I admit, I'm wordy.)
Several years ago, I picked up Red Dead Redemption due to its reviews. I was thoroughly engrossed in it. Between its story and submissions I was never at a loss for things to do. Even if I had fully achieved it out (360 version, obviously), I could still find things to work on just for kicks and giggles.
This was not the only title I found like this. The Saboteur gave me oodles and gobs of things to work on. Even after I had achieved it out, I was still willing to restart the game and play it again.
So what does this mean and what can the gaming industry learn from this?
Well, let's start from the basics. Control...make your games easy to control. I can't name a single title worth replaying that wasn't easy to do whatever I wanted my character to do. The major secret to this? Make the halo of whatever 'action command' you choose relative to 5-10 feet in real world space. I see the g**-d***item/corpse/thing, don't make me kiss it before I interact with it.
Story...make me commiserate with the character I am playing. Give me enough story to want to know what happens next but not so much that I feel like I have to read a freakin' novel to know what is going on.
Quests. The most easily controlable beast of any game. Give me something to work towards. And when I finish, give me something else to do. Main game related or not....I want a reason to keep using my character.
This is where the nitty-gritty comes in.
To you game developers: Make me believe.
I want to feel like I have a reason to be invested in your main character. He/She has an ultimate mission. Why the hell should I care? Establish a grand mission worthy of my time. Want to make the game longer? Give me reasons/rewards that can lead me towards this ultimate path.
Okay, now I believe in your protagonist. Is he/she easy to move about or manipulate to my tastes?
Amazing! Now that I have reason and control of your protagonsit/ my character, what next?
Story....things to do....quests...reaons to be or exist...my god. Mr or Mrs developer, you have created the perfect game! You have not only given me a reason to care but also a reason to believe. You have successfully suspended my reality and given me an escape. I will take it from here.
Sound good? I bet it does. Next step is enjoying myself despite friends'/critics' replies.