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Making a good video game

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David Gregory | 17:04 UK time, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Gamer playing Mario KartWill you be giving or unwrapping a video game this Christmas? Well scientists have been studying what makes a game fun.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have been combing through the reviews and sales for video games to tease out what makes a great game. According to researchers;

"variety, cohesion, a social element, and good user interaction"
are the most important points for developers to cover.

In other words a game should have a few twists and turns in it but nothing so surprising it stops making sense. That it should be fun to play with others, either in your living room or online. And finally the controls should make sense, harder than you might think.

Although the research is a little rough and ready it does show that this social element is more important than previously thought. And also that gamers will forgive a game plenty if it's cheap enough. Which is very interesting because the price we pay for games is changing.

Traditionally you bought a game from a shop. Today you are just as likely to download it from the internet. And that means smaller, cheaper games have become cost effective for games companies to produce. A low enough price-point and gamers will forgive plenty of problems, including it not touching on all of what the research identifies as the best attributes of a good game.

The aim of all this is to help video game companies design games that get better reviews which should lead to higher sales and happier customers. And professional reviewers can make sure they've reviewed all the areas of a game that people think are important.

Interestingly a game heavily hinted at by my other half as the perfect Christmas present, "FEAR 2: Project Origin" features in the research. Apparently it's a game that "has storytelling and environment problems, but these are overwhelmed by the excellent variety and cohesion demonstrated." Which means scientifically there's a high chance it will make an appearance under our Christmas tree.

Have a Happy Christmas!
Happy Christmas UK:R!


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