Video games often involve destroying something. Whether the ending of a life or blowing up a building, many games rely on the player bringing an end to something. But is there a sense of entertainment that can come from mere destruction itself, and not simply completing tasks? In this essay I explore the destructive drive and explain how it works within video games and can motivate player interaction with games.
Many of us are familiar with in-game challenges and achievements, but why would anyone want to complete those? In this essay I’ll explore the drive to “perfect” a game and explain the appeal of these challenges for players.
Players possess a lot of power in video games, over a wide variety of aspects of the game. But one way that players can approach games is not just through the exercise of mere power, but through extreme power. In this essay I’ll look at examples where players possess incredible power to overcome in-game obstacles, and explain why this kind of power can be appealing.
Roguelikes are often about making progress slowly. Each run is only supposed to bring you a bit closer to the end. But how that progress is framed is important. In this essay I’ll explore a couple of different ways that the progress in roguelike games can be presented to players, and how those different framings impact the player’s relationship toward the game.
Exploration in video games comes with a potential cost: players getting lost. There are various ways in which players can lose track of where they are, but all of them result in the same bad outcome. In this essay, I explore what it means for players to get lost in a game, and some ideas for how this outcome can be avoided through world and map design.
Video games have been experimenting with minimalist narratives for a while now. But sometimes those narratives don’t quite work out as intended. In this essay I’ll explore some aspects of minimalist writing to provide a few ideas on how to better craft narratives that steer away from writing too much.
Writing stories is hard, and one problem that we can run into is “overwriting,” or going a bit too far in our prose. In this essay I’ll examine the issue of overwriting in more detail and explain why it causes issues for a game’s narrative.
For people who play video games a lot, it can be common to run into games we don’t like. But how often do we keep playing those games once we realize we aren’t having fun? I offer a defense of playing bad games as a way of helping us to build up critical skills.
Depending on what games we play, we might have encountered the concept of “grinding,” repeating a task over and over to accomplish a goal. Even though grinding is annoying, it is worthwhile to examine it more closely to ask why grinding exists, and how it might be made better for players.
Difficult games are easy enough to find, and there are a lot of players who like them. And yet, it’s also easy to find people who use these games and their difficulty as a test of who is a “real” player. In this essay I explore why that gatekeeping mentality is harmful for the video game community as a whole.