Video Game Design: What Makes a Successful Video Game?


Have you ever wondered why you enjoy your favorite video game so much? Is it the enticing theme? The immersive storyline? Or is it the mode of gameplay that draws you in? Whatever the reason, the world’s most successful and well-loved video games all have a few things in common. From the visual style to the soundtrack, these key features all work together to bring you the video games you know and love. Let’s start to find out what makes a successful video game design?

It’s all in the video game design

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First and foremost, behind every great video game is a great design. What exactly is going on deep inside the mechanics that give players hours of enjoyment time after time? Well, that’s all down to the game creators who work hard developing level upon level of gameplay. Months and years of meticulous planning map out the paths that every player may follow; creating an experience that encourages exploration and doesn’t lead to any frustrating dead ends or repetitive play. Secret levels are also an exciting feature of the great video game design.

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An immersive theme

Unsurprisingly, creative and inspiring visuals are also vital in producing a video game that’s going to fly off the shelves. Graphics are key when it comes to player enjoyment. They don’t just draw you in to playing a game but can be absolutely pivotal to the gameplay itself. Take the Grand Theft Auto game series. The gameplay prides itself on the world within which it’s set and has since become one of the most widely recognized graphic worlds off all time. It’s these incredibly immersive gameplay environments which are behind some of the most successful games to have ever been created.

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The storyline speaks for itself

Amazing video game visuals are amplified when there is a great storyline behind them. Just as you enjoy watching your favorite movies for the tales they tell and their twisting plots – the same goes for the video games you love. The storyline of many successful video games is vital as it significantly increases the player’s enjoyment of the game. Those with gameplay heavily intertwined with touching, exciting or even disturbing storylines have become some of the most successful of all time. Take Tomb Raider for an excellent example. The story behind the game proved so popular it became the inspiration for two blockbuster movies.

Characters are key

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The game can be played in first person, third person or from an overview perspective. But the characters encountered throughout the play are one of the most memorable aspects of any game. To put it simply, if you find a game’s characters boring, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to love the game as a whole. Players need to relate to; feel inspired by or at least visually appreciate the characters they meet along the way. This is especially important for gameplay which isn’t storyline focused.

It has to be fun

It seems pretty obvious but having fun is as important to the game as the storyline, theme, and characters combined. After all, if a video game isn’t fun, then what’s the point of playing? In addition to exceptional design and plots, the way in which players navigate their way through the game has to be as enjoyable as possible. The fun factor is what separates the best games in the world from those which are played once and rarely picked up again. That means play needs to remain captivating and unpredictable. It should be easy to get started but remain challenging throughout to ensure players can get the most out of it. Multiplayer games provider like House of Fun is a good example of how to engage gamers with fun games.

Awesome audio

Of course, no video game is complete without a fantastic soundtrack or emotion-evoking audio. As simple as it sounds, having the right audio effects for each moment and movement makes some of the greatest games out there what they are. While soundtracks are great for adding additional entertainment during play, audio effects are essential for making it even more realistic. Great sound effects and soundtracks also contribute to the immersive quality of games. Did you know some of the most talented composers and music producers in the world have had fruitful careers working with video game producers like Nintendo? Composer Michael Giacchino – who won an Academy Award for his score to the movie Up! – also wrote the soundtrack to video games such as Call of Duty and the Medal of Honor series.

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Take control

Another important aspect of a successful game is how players can use their controls. As a pivotal part of the video game design, control use can mean the difference between enjoying a game and feeling frustrated by a lack of action. After all, there’s nothing more irritating than trying to make a character do something it hasn’t been given the capability to do.  An integral part of the wider video game design is to ensure the player is given the correct modes of control to thoroughly enjoy completing the game, without any unwanted limitations.

Reward systems

One of the main questions design teams may ask themselves when creating a video game is, what exactly is the player going to get out of it? That’s why many games use a challenge and reward system whereby levels are used to encourage players to keep going. They allow them to develop their control skills and delve further into the game world, while constantly posing additional challenges that need to be overcome.

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Standing out from the crowd

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Finally, what do all the most popular video games have in common? They all offer the player something a bit different from the other. There’s nothing fun about playing a replica of a game you’ve already completed. So, while many developers follow successful level design, plots and use similar modes of gameplay, they all offer the user something unique. It’s these small differences that keep players coming back for more. They give the gamer that added enjoyment that they simply can’t get anywhere else.


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Article Published by Souvik Banerjee

Web Developer & SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development, specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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