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Variety, Social Aspects More Important To Game Success Than Graphics, Plot

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the world-of-tweetcraft dept.

Graphics 236

proslack writes "In a study presented at the Human-Computer Interaction conference in Cambridge, England, British researchers Beale and Bond found that plot and graphics are not critical to the success of video games; price and the inclusion of social aspects (e.g. multiplayer or chat) were found to be more important." An unfinished version of the paper (PDF) is available from the researchers' web site. They said, "One of the most unexpected findings was that gameplay was not featured as one of the most important categories to fulfill," though they acknowledge that variety and cohesion were measured separately from gameplay, which past studies have not done.

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Makes sense (5, Insightful)

davidphogan74 (623610) | about 5 years ago | (#29409791)

In other news fun is more important to a games success than graphics, plot.

Captain Obvious (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29409861)

In other news, honkeys are white, niggers are black, slashdot's javascript is really fucking slow, and your mother is a slut.

Re:Captain Obvious (0, Offtopic)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 years ago | (#29409979)

Agreed on points one and three.

Re:Captain Obvious (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410179)

If you disagree on point two, please tell us what color you think they are if not black. Also explain why point one is acceptable to you and point two is not, without contradicting yourself. Thanks.

Re:Captain Obvious (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410371)

Point one is acceptable while point two is unacceptable because the GP is a closet racist. Wanting so badly to seem non-racist, he chooses to agree with point one in a "hey, I'm laid back/cool and can admit that white people are honkeys" and doesn't agree with point two because he is afraid of black people and/or afraid of being discovered for what he truly is, a racist and a coward.

Now me, I AM a racist and I freely admit that. I frequently state my dislike of people due to their race (ie. blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Indians, English and Australians) because I deem them to be low-class, unintelligent, unhygienic, sub-humans who should be wiped from the face of the planet.

Re:Captain Obvious (0, Offtopic)

Cheesetrap (1597399) | about 5 years ago | (#29410471)

Now me, I AM a racist and I freely admit that. I frequently state my dislike of people due to their race (ie. blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Indians, English and Australians) because I deem them to be low-class, unintelligent, unhygienic, sub-humans who should be wiped from the face of the planet.

Only those groups? Why not go all the way? [vhemt.org] :)

Re:Captain Obvious (1)

darth dickinson (169021) | about 5 years ago | (#29410575)

Holy $DIETY. That site made my brain bleed.

Re:Captain Obvious (0, Offtopic)

Cheesetrap (1597399) | about 5 years ago | (#29410603)

If you disagree on point two, please tell us what color you think they are if not black. Also explain why point one is acceptable to you and point two is not, without contradicting yourself. Thanks.

Okay, a few points [note: I'm not any of the ACs here, I'm a Pseudonymous Coward instead ;)].

Firstly, I have heard the word 'nigger' used to refer to white/brown/black/yellow/blue people (yeah, those smurfs on welfare!).

nigga, niggah etc. al.(noun)1.describes an ignorant, uneducated, foolish individual regardless of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
2. endearing term between two or more individual to describe a friendship or bond.
1. Shut up, you nigger
2. Chris, you my nigga.
- Urban Dictionary (definition #4) [urbandictionary.com]

Secondly, most people who call themselves 'black' are brown. Yes, BROWN. As in, what you get if you use the HTML color code 'brown' (produces #802A2A). I have met many brown people but only several people who were truly black - and they were Sudanese, not 'African-American' - which is also a BS term ("Oh, you have dual citizenship? May I see your passport?") - but I'll stop that rant right there.

Third, his statement was posed in the form of "A is B", and seemingly you took it upon yourself to extrapolate "All B's are A" from it, which is a logical fallacy. I would personally discount his implication that "All A's are B", but your objection appears to reject the notion that "Some B's are A", which is most definitely a true assertion which makes your outright rejection obviously incorrect.

Finally, what the frack does this have to do with online gaming? If I knew there were a bunch of brown-o-phobes in a particular server, I would join up with a decidedly over-tanned avatar just to laugh at their reactions when they get pwned by a pseudonigger. Idiots with ridiculous bigotries are fun to abuse :)

Re:Captain Obvious (0, Offtopic)

bertoelcon (1557907) | about 5 years ago | (#29410523)

I agree on point 4, my mom is a slut really is a slut.

Re:Makes sense (2, Interesting)

snadrus (930168) | about 5 years ago | (#29409909)

I was thinking the same. How about gameplay as a measure of games?

Re:Makes sense (1)

maharb (1534501) | about 5 years ago | (#29410317)

read the summary much? "One of the most unexpected findings was that gameplay was not featured as one of the most important categories to fulfill,"

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410349)

While I can understand griping about more effort going into graphics than the "fun" factor, I feel that the term "gameplay" is a bit misleading. What exactly defines gameplay? Is it really something that can be labeled? If you kept all the "gameplay" in a game the same, and replaced the bleeding-edge graphics with crappy low-res textures, would it really still be as enjoyable? Would the "gameplay" remain intact? We have adopted the word gameplay to describe the game as a whole; not any one or two items but the total enjoyment we get out of the game. Trying to compare the gameplay to the graphics or storyline is like comparing apples to fruit - it just doesn't make sense, because the graphics and storyline are part of the gameplay. In contrast, terms like "cohesion" and "variety" are easier to quantify and compare, and therefore offer more precise information about what makes good gameplay.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410373)

See Nethack [nethack.org]

Re:Makes sense (4, Interesting)

lorenlal (164133) | about 5 years ago | (#29409937)

My favorite example of this is Castle Crashers right now.

I'm lame, and I didn't discover it until about a month ago, but I'll be damned if it's not my favorite game right now. Flash style animation, simple mechanic, funny elements... That's all I really need.

Re:Makes sense (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 5 years ago | (#29410167)

I sure wish they'd port that to pc. I seriously doubt I'll be getting a 360 until I find one in bin for $30.

Re:Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410223)

at which point the social aspects of the game will be very diminished, which is an interestinng downside to this new trend of social gaming.

Re:Makes sense (2, Interesting)

Cheesetrap (1597399) | about 5 years ago | (#29410623)

at which point the social aspects of the game will be very diminished, which is an interestinng downside to this new trend of social gaming.

Or you could look at it another way - once the game is no longer being hyped by advertisers, most of those who remain will be real fans of the game (and thus usually people who don't need help or beg for sh*t etc), or people introduced to the game by those already fans (thus won't be needing help from you either), or those doing the same thing as you (who I guess would at least *tend* to be more intelligent, though of course not all bargain hunters are Einstein).. So theoretically it can be a positive.

Re:Makes sense (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 5 years ago | (#29410475)

I sure wish they'd port that to pc. I seriously doubt I'll be getting a 360 until I find one in bin for $30.

100USD and I'm game. Had one in the first couple months, surprisingly DVD-ROM went out and not the RROD, now that I've been burned once I shant be burned again. So I guess to get back on topic, price also plays an important roll in gaming. For instance I still use my ATI x1800XT, draws more power then I like but I find it hard to invest in gaming tech when so few good games come out. It seems to me games eat up ever more sophisticated hardware without a justifiable return of enjoyment.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Cheesetrap (1597399) | about 5 years ago | (#29410615)

I seriously doubt I'll be getting a 360 until I find one in bin for $30.

Jeez!! You must really be in a posh part of town - around here things in bins are free. O.o

Re:Makes sense (1)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | about 5 years ago | (#29409995)

Another ridiculous study proving nothing. And an unfinished one no less.

As the poster above said... FUN is more important.

This just seems like a study put out by game developers to justify doing even crappier AI than we already get.

Or of course they didn't ask any actual hardcore gamers who go back to the Atari 2600 as I'd rather spend an hour playing Maze Craze on that than most of what's released today.

Re:Makes sense (1)

Spatial (1235392) | about 5 years ago | (#29410221)

They aren't mutually exclusive. Good plot and graphics can make a game fun.

IN many FPS servers and MMO games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410297)

people complain bugs and cheats. Yet according to this research paper, we should not be worry about bugs/ cheats as they are not considered an important factor.

The thing is people will leave (Rage quit) and will not paying any money to a game when it is maintained poorly. That is why in many places, "myg0ts" are banned on sight even though they provide a hospitality to a game community. Many admins still want to keep myg0ts out from their game even though they will provide a thoughtful discussion.

Re:Makes sense (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | about 5 years ago | (#29410443)

No shit.  It's hard to convince a lot of people of that, though.  I've been working on a game for the last few years with that philosophy in mind, but a lot of the kids just tune out when the graphics aren't like they expect.

Ironically, I've actually got some pretty far out graphics in some ways, but it's just not cool in the way they expect.

Re:Makes sense (1)

davidphogan74 (623610) | about 5 years ago | (#29410557)

Great product placement dude, I'll give it a try.

Slashdot readers eat their own shit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29409809)

This is true.

Doubt it... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29409841)

Bull, as far as I am concerned:

1) Plot
2) Price
3) Graphics
.
.
.
374) Social

Re:Doubt it... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29409855)

You place multiplayer capabilities at #374? Seriously?

Re:Doubt it... (2, Insightful)

Telephone Sanitizer (989116) | about 5 years ago | (#29409925)

1) Plot 2) Price 3) Graphics . . . 374) Social

That's about right. If the core game sucks, it sucks more with a friend present and online-play can't fix it.

Re:Doubt it... (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 5 years ago | (#29409967)

You place multiplayer capabilities at #374? Seriously?

Yeah, totally. Half-life, Zelda, Splinter Cell, and Super Mario Bros. would have been so much better as MMOs.

(/me stops typing before I start to sound like Gabe. [penny-arcade.com] )

Re:Doubt it... (3, Insightful)

davidphogan74 (623610) | about 5 years ago | (#29410005)

Wasn't the Half-Life mod Counter-Strike (which requires other players) pretty freaking awesome? IMO, it kind of sucked to play against bots.

Re:Doubt it... (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 5 years ago | (#29410507)

IMO, it kind of sucked to play against bots.

Maybe in a game that doesn't natively support them, UT sure did a heck of a job with em, IMO.

Re:Doubt it... (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | about 5 years ago | (#29410011)

How about GoldenEye, Smash Bros, Battletoads, Mario Kart, Street Fighter, etc.

Re:Doubt it... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 5 years ago | (#29410257)

Battletoads with a second player was NOT better...

Good gods...

Let's Play "Spot the Friendless Dude" (3, Funny)

Petersko (564140) | about 5 years ago | (#29410515)

"Bull, as far as I am concerned:
1) Plot
2) Price
3) Graphics
... 374) Social"


Just give us a heads up if you intend to buy a van and a whole bunch of fertilizer.

Ha Ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29409859)

Are you telling me that in an industry where most of the products don't even have a plot that a statistical study would suggest plot has little to do with sales! That's... entirely expected I should hope, good thing this story comes from a blog and not a respected university, or I might be worried.

Nahh (1)

Magreger_V (1441121) | about 5 years ago | (#29409871)

I think we are thinking too deep into this. I wonder how we ever got by before multiplayer.

Re:Nahh (2, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 5 years ago | (#29410029)

You know the day I heard of Quantum Link on C64 was the day I started dreaming of MMORPGS. I found games less fun to play because I had in my mind the perfect MMORPG. I spent thousands of hours over a decade and a half trying to code MMORPGS. Now that MMORPGS are out and boring, my ultimate dreams for video games is sorta deflated.

I have a new dream though. It isn't as big as the old dream, but it could be potentially more fun. Game Master driven CRPGS. I know they have them already, but I'd want to do one well. Theoretically, you can get a better experience through a computer than Pencil and Paper. And with computer you can play with people who all aren't in the same physical location. This dream isn't big enough to pursue however. I have so many things on my plate that I want to do.

Re:Nahh (2, Informative)

geminidomino (614729) | about 5 years ago | (#29410269)

Game Master driven CRPGS. I know they have them already, but I'd want to do one well. Theoretically, you can get a better experience through a computer than Pencil and Paper. And with computer you can play with people who all aren't in the same physical location. This dream isn't big enough to pursue however. I have so many things on my plate that I want to do.

You don't have to do it.

http://www.rpgobjects.com/index.php?c=orpg [rpgobjects.com]

Re:Nahh (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 5 years ago | (#29410521)

I spent thousands of hours over a decade and a half trying to code MMORPGS. Now that MMORPGS are out and boring, my ultimate dreams for video games is sorta deflated.

I agree with you, I've often thought my enjoyment of my hours on EQ had more to do with my desire to have such a game then actual merit. But it occurs to me the potential for a truly engaging and wonderful MMORPG could still be realized as %99.99 of what is out there is all derived from the same basic formula.

For certain markets... (5, Insightful)

Myji Humoz (1535565) | about 5 years ago | (#29409875)

The findings might be true for certain markets, but huge hits recently such as Bioshock and Mass Effect show pretty clearly that a good plot, solid setting, and good graphics are key to a blockbuster game. The study is based on reviews made by gamers, and thus tends to have a skewed sampling population. Certain segments of the market enjoy variety and social games. Other parts enjoy plot driven RPGs or gorgeous and engaging FPS games. Without doing an economic or financial analysis, judging what factors correlate most strongly to success is a rather large leap for this study.

Re:For certain markets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29409991)

Bioshock? Plot? You must be joking. That game has no plot that didn't happen before the start of the game, and is then explained to you by disembodied voices. Show, don't tell. The actual events of the game consist of you running around on a killing spree, like all FPS games.

Re:For certain markets... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 5 years ago | (#29410451)

It also assumes that gamers know what actually is necessary for a games success. Much of what causes a game to be a success is many times NON OBVIOUS.

A word like "Gameplay" is too deep and nuanced and changes from game to game, just like how do you capture the "Feel", control and sense of speed in a racing game?

Or what about the fluid battle mechanics of god of war compared to other clunkier games?

Truth is one study is not definitive and I'd trust hardcore gamers before I trust pointificating researchers on what makes a successful game, since the elite among the hardcore play types of games and have refined gaming tastes and are also into analysis of what makes fun, they attempt to pick apart games and can usually tell you in a review right away what's wrong and they always usually post the harshest most realistic scores for games. Instead of uninformed pablum that passes for the gamers without a gaming history going back into the NES era or even further back.

Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (4, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | about 5 years ago | (#29409887)

This may be true for the teeny-boppers who've probably never played a game with a real plot and great game play. Most modern console games have pretty similar graphics and tend to have the same lack of plot or original thought - so yes, I'd believe that being able to chat with friends would be "important" to them because it allows them to be distracted from how boring the game is.

However, with older gamers, it is normally universal that plot and game play come before graphics and most of us couldn't give a rats ass if you can chat with your friends in-game. We already have a great way to chat with friends while playing if we need to - it's called a phone.

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29409919)

WTF are you yapping about? A phone? Seriously??

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (1)

martas (1439879) | about 5 years ago | (#29410009)

what is this phone you speak of? does it have a character limit per message?

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410017)

However, with older gamers, it is normally universal that plot and game play come before graphics and most of us couldn't give a rats ass if you can chat with your friends in-game.

Um.. the article said the graphics were not important. So I think that means that the "teeny-boppers" (as you call them) do in fact agree with you on how important graphic are. So at best, your quote is redundant and at worse an off topic rant.

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410069)

This may be true for the teeny-boppers who've probably never played a game with a real plot and great game play.

Indeed. When will we ever see another game with the stunning, spine-chilling plot twists of Pong and Asteroids?

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | about 5 years ago | (#29410635)

...because there existed no games between Pong and Asteroids, and the current casual gaming trend.

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410077)

However, with older gamers, it is normally universal that plot and game play come before graphics and most of us couldn't give a rats ass if you can chat with your friends in-game. We already have a great way to chat with friends while playing if we need to - it's called a phone.

Now if only we had some friends to call...

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (1)

Hiro2k (264020) | about 5 years ago | (#29410183)

I agree with everything you've

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (1)

AdmiralWeirdbeard (832807) | about 5 years ago | (#29410295)

'social aspects' matter greatly to me insofar as i enjoy games w/ a local multiplayer component, if not the whole point of the game. I like a good rip through a beautifully rendered and well written fps campaign as much as the next guy, but wii sports and rockband make up at least 90% of my gaming hours.

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (1)

NateE (247273) | about 5 years ago | (#29410331)

VOIP being built-in to a fast paced game adds enormously to the experience. Many FPS have hardly any plot. There are too many types of games to say that plot comes before graphics. Lots of casual games also have no plot.

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (0, Flamebait)

Totenglocke (1291680) | about 5 years ago | (#29410567)

Many FPS have hardly any plot.

Hence why most real gamers totally despise FPS games. There's no thought, no plot, just your over-caffeinated twitch responses.

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (2, Interesting)

Draek (916851) | about 5 years ago | (#29410403)

Older, but only sightly. Too old, and you may realize we already have a way to get a good plot, and they're called "books". No, all it matters to me is gameplay and yes, the "social aspect" you deride so much. Give me a fun game, and an easy way to find others who play it, and I'm all set.

That's why my favorite RPG is Guild Wars, the plot may be an endless stream of cliches and the graphics may not be anywhere near as good as those of Mass Effect or the latest Final Fantasy, but the battle system is fun as hell and, being halfway between a "regular" RPG and a MMO, the social aspect is second to none.

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | about 5 years ago | (#29410559)

Except that in books, nothing ever changes. In a well written RPG, the outcome and the way things play out over the course of the game is affected by your choices.

If you want to do something mind-numbingly repetitive and dull while talking to other people, I suggest either work or playing sports. With work you'll at least make money and with sports you'll at least get exercise.

Re:Maybe true for the teeny-boppers (1)

chonglibloodsport (1270740) | about 5 years ago | (#29410409)

I agree with the article. Plot is massively overrated. I find that the majority of games touted for "great plots" reek of frustrated author syndrome where game play takes a back seat to the writer's vision.

I get far more enjoyment out of games that provide a large variety of game play mechanics, situations, re-playability and multi-player.

Best Selling Game (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29409891)

So the best selling game should be IRC Hero?

Networking? (1)

fireball84513 (1632561) | about 5 years ago | (#29409893)

even more proof that games are becoming more of a social group than a way to escape the norm and waste time. wait, is there a difference?

Methodology is everything (5, Insightful)

graft (556969) | about 5 years ago | (#29409923)

Well, I suppose this is marginally interesting, but poor methodology really makes this paper mean very little for me. For example, check out this brilliant passage:

These results did not reflect our expectations, as they put a lot more importance on gameplay and environment in relation to other categories than we had expected. We suspected the complexity of the categories was causing this,with some categories encompassing far more criteria than others, making them far more likely to be mentioned than others with relatively few criteria. In a rough attempt to overcome this, the count was divided by the number of criteria for each category.

In other words: "We didn't like the result we got, so we massaged the data until we got something we liked, and called that our method."

Re:Methodology is everything (5, Insightful)

Quothz (683368) | about 5 years ago | (#29410091)

In other words: "We didn't like the result we got, so we massaged the data until we got something we liked, and called that our method."

You said just about all there is to be said. They changed their method to make the results match their hypothesis. They acknowledge poor methodology in their data collection, so even the original results are suspect. The only place this paper ought've been published is in a landfill. Beale and Bond should go back to 101-level courses, and the headline of this story should be "Don't Publish Research With Obvious Flaws".

Re:Methodology is everything (0, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 5 years ago | (#29410235)

And what's wrong with that? This method is in widely accepted use in academia throughout the world. Many highly accredited people use the method with great success. You can criticize the people, man, but don't criticize the method.

Back in the 1980's.... (3, Informative)

mikael (484) | about 5 years ago | (#29409939)

One of the first multiplayer games we played was 'grid' [imageshack.us] by Peter S. Langston - it came with a USENIX archive tape. The game itself was an ASCII rendering of 'grid war' in first person perspective, but it supported inter-player communication. Other mainframe multi-user-dungeon games [wikipedia.org] were also popular as they also had the multi-player capability.

Plot... I will miss you (1)

tetsukaze (1635797) | about 5 years ago | (#29409943)

I can really appreciate the technology that has evolved to make modern games what they are. It has changed the way we play games, but at a cost. I miss the old days of 70+ hours of a great story. You just can't do that any more. Good writing just doesn't pay off any more. Back in the days of lousy graphics and limited features, a story had to draw you in. Now there are so many other components that a good story isn't important. I am no exception. I used to tolerate a whole lot to get to the juicy ending, but now if the game doesn't hold me with other aspects, I end up ditching it. Likewise, if a game has quality visuals and novel game play, I won't care that the writing is crap. Oh the old day. Oh by the way, I also used to haul rocks to school in the snow uphill both ways.

Re:Plot... I will miss you (2, Interesting)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 5 years ago | (#29410015)

Games could always get away without having a decent plot, just as they can today, so I don't think much has changed there. I mean, you can't possibly say with a straight face that Doom, or Age of Empires, or Super Mario Bros had great plots, and those were all classic games.

I also wouldn't say that there's a lack of plot in games today. Lots of games are still about telling a great story (RPGs, Heavy Rain, the Halo series, Bioshock) just as much as they are about fun gameplay. There are still both games with and without great plot, just as there were in years gone by.

Re:Plot... I will miss you (2, Informative)

tetsukaze (1635797) | about 5 years ago | (#29410117)

I agree that there have always been games that do focus on game play and leave out plot. I also agree that there are some very good games out there that do have amazing stories and writing. What I am seeing is a general trend away from those things. The best games will have everything, but the way I see it, games like Mass Effect and Bioshock are a dying breed. I loved the plots and characters in those games but I feel if the stories had been so so, they still would have been successful. I can't predict the future, but I think these games are on the way out.

Re:Plot... I will miss you (4, Interesting)

American Terrorist (1494195) | about 5 years ago | (#29410185)

I never understood people who play games for the plot. I play games for entertaining gameplay. To me the very definition of a game is something almost entirely lacking in plot. Chess, checkers, cards games, monopoly, etc all have no plot.

I played WoW for the arenas and always laughed to myself at the nerds who cared about the backstory of Archimonde and blah blah blah. The plot in these games is just a device to move the game forward. A boss that respawns every week and exists in infinitely many instances does not make for an interesting plot. When I want good stories, I read books.

Re:Plot... I will miss you (1)

gaspyy (514539) | about 5 years ago | (#29410643)

To each his own.

I don't have much time for playing games these days, but almost all of my favorite games had great stories: from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Zork, Wing Commander Series to Syberia, Deus Ex and Freelancer.

Playing the first Dune game (the one madde by Cryo in 1992) got me into reading the books.

Re:Plot... I will miss you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410193)

You really think Bioshock had a great plot? Wow. Just...wow!

how to you measure such things? (2, Interesting)

johncandale (1430587) | about 5 years ago | (#29410003)

From TFA; "We have started to address this by undertaking a grounded theoretical analysis of reviews garnered from games, both good and bad, to distil from these common features that characterize good and bad games. A good game is cohesive, varied, has good user interaction and offers some form of social interaction"

Look there are good movies with car chases, a rouge cop and one liners, and there are bad movies with such things. Any kind of list of 'qualities' is useless because it's not what it has it's /how it has them/. I think these researchers time would be better spent dusting books at the library of congress personally. I'm sure you could study a selection of successful literature, come up with a list of "whats most important in a work" and not only realize it doesn't apply to 90% of the masterpieces out there but also is completely useless in predicting future successes. Honestly this is just a few steps better then voodoo predictions.

No shit. (1)

WSOGMM (1460481) | about 5 years ago | (#29410033)

What the hell do you think kept me playing WoW for all those years? Finding Old Blanchey's blanket?

Conclusion (5, Funny)

pi4 (1635957) | about 5 years ago | (#29410043)

The best selling video game of 2009 is............... facebook?

Re:Conclusion (2, Insightful)

wakingrufus (904726) | about 5 years ago | (#29410191)

^ Onion article in the making.

Re:Conclusion (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | about 5 years ago | (#29410527)

Yeah I had to keep adding in random strangers as friends to get benefits in the Facebook games like Farmville, Knighthood, Battlestations, Mafia, etc before I decided to quit doing that. Then I found out Facebook doesn't like it when you drop a large group of your 'friends' and ban you for it. We used to be able to add in many friends, add them in the games, and then drop them and they'd still be in the games.

Thing is if people only added in their "real friends" to these Facebook games they'd only have like 16 friends playing with them and not the required 250 or whatever it is to get the bonuses enough to matter. There are also Facebook groups for "mass add" for the various games so random strangers can "mass add" other random strangers by bulk email addresses to get the hundreds of "friends" required for the Facebook video games.

But after creating a new account I decided to stop playing those Facebook games. Turns out they collect email addresses and other info and sell it like any other spammer, plus they assault you with advertising and spam.

It does not make sense to have video games on a social networking site, because it interferes with social networking and requires one to "micromanage" their virtual world in each game.

Re:Conclusion (1)

some_guy_88 (1306769) | about 5 years ago | (#29410555)

A disturbingly large number of my friends play a facebook game called FarmVille. As far as good games go its an absolute shocker but give people high score lists with their friends on it and tacked on features like gift giving and you've got a hit on your hands.

Quake, anyone? (4, Insightful)

HisMother (413313) | about 5 years ago | (#29410047)

Quake had no plot, at least not one that made any sense or was original in any way. It was the multiplayer which made it such an incredibly successful phenomenon. Folks these days might forget what the old days before the Intertubes were really like; being able to blow your friends up for the first time was just awesome.

Re:Quake, anyone? (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | about 5 years ago | (#29410121)

So are you saying that perhaps innovation could top plot? For something like quake, I'm not sure I could base my love for it on the social aspects.

Re:Quake, anyone? (1)

American Terrorist (1494195) | about 5 years ago | (#29410315)

I base my love for FPSs on the adrenaline rush aspects. AI can't provide that rush. Only when I know I'm playing against other people do I find it interesting.

Re:Quake, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410361)

For me, it was the real 3D that made Quake awesome. No sprite-based graphics anywhere. No being limited to only looking up or down by about 15 degrees because more would break the graphics engine. You could just step up to an edge and look *down*!

In fact, looking up and down worked so well that it was the game that made people switch to the now almost universal mouse + keyboard control scheme for FPS games. The ease of looking around made everything so much more immersive.

Re:Quake, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410209)

Quake had no plot

Yes, but Quake also had one of (if not the) most advanced graphics engines of its day.
Which is part of what the article is about (see TFTitle).

In practice, theory and practice are different... (3, Insightful)

xepel (1573443) | about 5 years ago | (#29410075)

I feel like in an ideal world, this could certainly be correct. Everyone likes a fun, social game, right?

Except this isn't always the case.

As seen in another recent posting, you tend to get pushed to the 'indie' section of gaming if you don't have the visuals that people want. People like looking at pretty screen-candy, and game makers know to indulge people in this. You can certainly have good games without amazing visuals, but they won't ever be mainstream.

Most people love their graphics, even if they'll then claim 'gameplay' is important on some survey.

An interesting but not thorough study (3, Insightful)

nifboy (659817) | about 5 years ago | (#29410085)

I'd like to see a more thorough investigation with this method. The paper says they used 33 reviews from Gamespot UK to collect the data, and while I don't disagree with its findings (Gotta have good controls, bad plot doesn't matter), I wouldn't turn Table 5 (categories by importance) into a Game Design Bible. Then again, the paper does say "This paper is primarily intended to inspire further work in the field."

don't forget (3, Insightful)

bigmaddog (184845) | about 5 years ago | (#29410099)

Video games are now mainstream, just another Hollywood, and what we can learn from movies and apply to our preferred entertainment is that unmitigated mediocrity is no obstacle to making money. How many cookie cutter romantic comedies come out each year? There's no innovation, no surprises, but they keep making them so the money's coming from somewhere. OMG, he travels through time, but he still loves her and she loves him back? Shit bitch, no way! How about generic action movies? Three Transporters, Two Cranked's and Death Race, and I'm sure they're making Death Race 2 right now... in case we forget Jason Statham is awesome. The examples go on. If these movies are making money somehow that means there's enough people out there who are buying, for who those movies offer enough. And yay, look out, the same is true for games. We're measuring different things here, and we even have a study for some reason, but it's no surprise that the average person's demands are for something that's "good enough" in a few basic areas.

Price and social aspects? (1)

Korbeau (913903) | about 5 years ago | (#29410141)

So being able to call someone else Noob in a shitty Flash game is fun! Yay!

WoW, No Shit? (0, Troll)

Thedeviluno (903528) | about 5 years ago | (#29410149)

This study is akin to throwing your poop at a wall and sifting through it, in an attempt to remember what you had for dinner.

Games list? MUD's. (2, Interesting)

Globally Mobile (1635415) | about 5 years ago | (#29410165)

Nowhere in the paper could I find the various games they used in this study. Would be a nice addition. As someone said above, Multi-User Dungeons (MUD's) back in the late 80's/early 90's were highly addictive, and I would say that the social interaction definitely had a large part in the 'flow', and enjoyment. Many of us would just stay connected to the world, even when not at play, idle, and able to chat with the people we befriended within. The clan or gang structure, also a social aspect, also made for more fun. Interesting to see where price fell into this as well. It does make sense, social aspects and variety being the heaviest factors, seeing as MUD's, still based upon text, are to this day played. Also lok at how wildly popular MMORPG's are. Good job on the first draft there.

idle gossip (4, Interesting)

mindbrane (1548037) | about 5 years ago | (#29410175)

The PBS special, titled "The Brain's Big Bang", suggested gossip accounts for 2/3 of our speech activity. The episode went on to offer the now widely touted conjecture that social networking may have been one of the prime movers behind development of our comparatively big brains. Idle conjecture can take it to a simpler, more fundamental level. Apoptosis or programmed cell death is thought to be initiated by lack of inter cellular communication. Cells programme themselves to die when they no longer receive communications requiring them to live. It's easy to extrapolate from those findings to an individual's need to socially interact.

Re:idle gossip (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410607)

It's easy to extrapolate from those findings to an individual's need to socially interact.

It's also easy to bludgeon people over the back of the head, drag them back to your house, and then eat them alive, but that doesn't mean you should do so. See also this [xkcd.com] .

just marketing (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | about 5 years ago | (#29410307)

Just like the movie industry and so many other: Most of the target consumers will buy whatever you tell them they should buy as long as you have a well known logo, enough money for advertising and don't screw up too badly with cultural context.

Depth (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about 5 years ago | (#29410335)

I've spent hours and hours playing Hearts of Iron 2. Can't play HoI3 because the graphics engine is too bloated and won't run on my laptop. I like the depth they added, but in this case increasing graphical quality actually makes the game unplayable. And I'm not alone, a lot of people complained about the system reqs.

So in other words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29410351)

So in other words, you are telling me that people do not like to do the same thing again and again in isolation? I love it when people make entire reports out of something that is common sense to everyone else.

First of all, you need to have the game constantly change. If it does not, people get bored. There are two ways to switch the game up. You can either (a.) spend time and money making a game that has many different ways to play it or (b.) add other players. When you add other players, even if you do not let them communicate, you are adding variety. Sometimes you are playing against good people, sometimes not. People act in unpredictable ways making it fun for much longer.

How often do you play Call of Duty 4 (or 5) in single player mode? Halo?

Now I will go back to my exciting game of breakout.

Re:So in other words... (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | about 5 years ago | (#29410485)

Yeah shoot 'em up games get boring after a while. Like you have the Nazi Zombie add on via DLC, and you spend over an hour killing Nazi Zombies. So what is the point, you just keep killing the Nazi Zombies and they keep throwing more at you. No thing to get around, no variation, no victims to try and save, no pause in the Nazi Zombies regenerating so you get to move out of the sniper spot to find a new one and advance on the Nazi Zombie castle or whatever.

One word missing (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 5 years ago | (#29410385)

Now let me rephrase what the article says: "plot and graphics are not critical to the success of SOME video games". There. I added one word and it starts to make a lot more sense.
There are games and games, and also there are genres and genres. One study can't get an universal conclusion for ALL games (some tried but abandoned all hope after repeatedly getting 42 as the answer).
Now I didn't conduct any study, but as a personal opinion, I think that:
- For pure FPS games like Quake, Unreal Tournament, Counterstrike, what matters is the "boom" experience. throw in countless killing methods and some big ass guns and you're through.
- For Single Player RPGs, whether they feature First Person, Third Person or isometric views, it's the background/story/immersion level that counts.
- For browser-based MMOs, their success heavily depends on speed. Any such game where it takes 5 seconds to get from one page/view to the next one is doomed.
- Client/Server MMOs are wanted if they fit YOU, the gamer. There is no specific gold-paved road to success here. Maybe, maybe it's the amount of metagaming available.
...and so on. There are lots of categories, and any study trying to get all under one umbrella will yield 42 as the ultimate answer :)
To conclude: Plot and graphics ARE critical to a game's success if it doesn't excel in other categories (see Assassin's Creed, Fallout 3, The Witcher); but again, people won't give a shit about plot and graphics sometimes (see Earthworm Jim 2, Worms, OGame.org, Counterstrike).

begging to differ (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 5 years ago | (#29410423)

At least for me, it always was gameplay -> graphics/sound -> plot. Unless the plot is really, *really* good.

Maybe the question the article really should be asking is: "Why are so many people buying and playing games without when they could just as well watch a movie or chew bubble gum, and how can gamers be protected from the resulting degradation of their environment and aspirations?" ^^

Incomplete study (1)

Aggrav8d (683620) | about 5 years ago | (#29410453)

If the social component exists (and in equal measure) in many games, what is the next most important feature?
If the social component does not exist in many games, what is the most important feature?
Can you still call it a game if you remove all the of the graphics and/or plot?

Poor terminology (4, Insightful)

S3D (745318) | about 5 years ago | (#29410463)

Authors of TFA defined "Variety" as "non-linearity, choice, dynamic combat, varied AI, emergent tactic". That is what's usually called "Gameplay". What they are calling "Gameplay" - "Engaging, fair, balanced, innovative..." is mostly a pile of marketspeak.

DOS based games (4, Interesting)

Orion Blastar (457579) | about 5 years ago | (#29410469)

I got old MS-DOS formatted floppy disks that have my old DOS games on it. I am finding new use with them via DOSBox [dosbox.com] .

Modern games, mostly Windows based DirectX memory eating and bloated but full of 3D graphics and surround sound audio aren't as good to play as the old DOS games. The old DOS games had a limited memory system and most were written in assembly or C and had to fit in under 12M of RAM using XMS or EMS etc RAM that extended over the 640K of DOS. They didn't have gigabyte hard drives back then and had to fit games on 120M hard drives or lower. They only had 640x480 VGA graphics and Sound Blaster 16 Pro audio.

How many remember Syndicate, XCOM, Dune II, Master of Orion 1 and 2, Master of Magic, Bard's Tale (EGA graphics and no sound card support but the Bard's Tale Construction set fixed that with VGA and Sound Blaster support), and other classic DOS games?

I heard a rumor that the classic DOS games are coming back via online services for $5 each because modern games don't have that enjoyability that the old 1990's DOS games had, plus people are learning how to run old games via DOSBOX or emulators that run DOS operating systems. The online services allows a DOSBox type DOS emulator/environment to run the DOS video game in it.

Almost every gaming company is trying to get the best graphics and sound effects, and it seems like they followed the Doom first person shooter model too closely with variations and modifications to it and forgot to make it entertaining and mean something via those social aspects of it. Not just chatting with other players, but the social aspects of going up against a computer controlled AI opponent(s). One of the few modern games that does that is Civilization IV, but it is basically the same game since Civilization II (or the original Civilization for DOS and the SNES) with more graphics and sounds added to it with movies and animation and then some bonus features but still plays the same as the original pretty much. Send settlers to build cities, take your civilization from the stone age to modern times without an enemy civilization taking yours out and develop technology for stronger military units and improvements to cities and world wonders. But in order to bring it to video game console units they had to dumb it down to Civilization Revolutions.

People want a game that is challenging, but they can set the level of difficulty. Sometimes the turns based game is better than the first person shooter realtime game that eats up lots of RAM and hard drive space for all of the animation and sound. Think of Tetris and other innovative games that did something different from all of the rest, and didn't need the animation graphics and sound effects to win over gamers. Just have an easy to use interface that doesn't require a user manual to be read in order to play it. Some of the best video games the player just clicked the start button and then just joined in the game learning as they went along. Which is what saved games are for, if you mess up, load a saved game before you messed up so you can avoid it.

Define success. (3, Insightful)

feepness (543479) | about 5 years ago | (#29410509)

Is McDonald's the most successful restaurant?

Perhaps fiscally.

But not in my book.

Online Gaming (1)

leadfoot (159248) | about 5 years ago | (#29410609)

From the linked article, "Ever since the introduction of online gaming 10 years ago with the Dreamcast (Yes, I still love it) it has become a staple of many games on consoles, and PCs."

wait, what?

of course that's what they would say (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 5 years ago | (#29410621)

if you put a bunch of people in a room together and ask them to play a game, that's called a lan party.

If there's no multiplay aka (social aspects) then it would be pretty boring pretty quick.

Games were always plot and gameplay driven. Then the japanese started making random gameplay simulators and the graphics were a toddler feast and people who had no attention span anyway started playing them and thought they were fun because those people lacked the higher brain function to realize that performing a mundane task over and over with catchy music is still a waste of time.

Then the Internet allowed netplay. That was the social aspect of the game. Geeks and well, geeks played for hours a night.

When technology started catching up and Carmack made games into something badass, more people wanted to play. When G4 started up, mainstream started catching on and that's when the corporate fat cats decided to exploit it. Now for developers, games are just like movies are for actors. It's like Favreau said to Affleck: First you make the money picture, then you make the art picture. Well now it's the same for games. Only, the games that are art are a bit lacking these days. For me, 90% of a game is plot.

Breaking news at 11? (1)

josephorc (1552203) | about 5 years ago | (#29410637)

Gameplay and multiplayer features are on my top list, ever. Followed by re-playability and the existence of modding tools and patches to enhance the experience with the game. The plot and the elements that makes you re-play the game countless times differ from genre to genre, but all of them share at least one thing in common: good gameplay. Baldurs Gate, Diablo, Age of Empires, Starcraft, Warcraft, Half life, Counter-Strike, Quake, Unreal Tournament, Chronno Trigger, Final Fantasy, and the list goes on...
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