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Published August 31, 2014

Video games are a complex entity. So many factors go into games, like story, graphics, and customization. Every gamer has a personal list of what is most important to them when deciding to buy a game or not. To some it may come down to how good the game looks. To others it’s how long they can enjoy the game. Here are some of the most important aspects of video games, in some kind of order:

Story/Character Development — Video games are another medium for storytelling, like books and movies. Stories in video games can be highly emotional, like The Last of Us, historical and entertaining, like Assassin’s Creed, or insanely epic, like Mass Effect. The Mass Effect trilogy are my personal favorite games because of the story and character development. Bioware made an amazing and original story in Mass Effect, giving players a chance to save the galaxy from extinction while also developing very personal relationships with crew members. Sure, the gameplay wasn’t groundbreaking or revolutionary, but the story and characters of ME are what keeps me coming back.

Replay Value — Games need to have lasting value. Most games are $60 and if you’re a fellow struggle gamer, that pricetag makes it so you can only purchase very few games. Because of this, I tend to get games I know I can invest many hours into (like the aforementioned ME trilogy). Why pay $60 for a game with a linear 6 hour campaign when you can spend $60 on a plethora of games that will always keep you coming back? Also, mods for computer games highly increase replay value. Just look at Skyrim- the game is three years old yet it is still alive and well on PC partly due to the insane amount of mods available.

Gameplay and Controls — The whole point of playing games is to have fun, so of course gameplay is important. Repetitive gameplay, boring combat, no challenging enemies, or broken controls can lead to all the enjoyment of a game being sucked out. Sure some games can succeed with very simple gameplay (think of point and clicks) or very the same gameplay every year (like FPSs or sports games). But first and foremost, for a game to succeed, it must be fun for gamers to play.

Graphics — I wrote about graphics a few weeks ago. In short, I believe that graphics are important, but are more of an added bonus as opposed to being the defining factor as to whether I buy a game or not.

Character Customization  Some games, mainly RPGs, feature a wealth of character customization, from being able to choose your race, gender, facials features, and class. Other games feature character customization just to get more money out of their customers through microtransactions (I’m looking at you, COD. Why would I care what my character looks like IF I CAN’T SEE THE CHARACTER?!). Either way, character customization can make a game a more immersive experience and can add to enjoyment.

Accessibility — I’m torn on this one. On one hand, I enjoy playing games where there is a steep learning curve and “easy to learn but difficult to master,” but on the other hand, I also enjoy being able to pick up and excel at a game when I haven’t played it for months. Leave a comment on this topic down below.

Co-op and Online Multiplayer — Some games have co-op that makes the game that much more fun. Sometimes going head to head against your friend in Madden is more fun than playing franchise mode. Other games are adding it in to create a new experience, like the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity. Other games are only played online, like MOBAs. It’s undeniable: gamers enjoy playing together and multiplayer is important. However, it’s not vital to a game’s success or enjoyment and that’s why it isn’t higher on this list.

So, what’s most important to YOU, reader? Leave a thought down below!

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