Join us on Wednesday, March 24th at 2 p.m. for a fun filled session of Advanced STEM Club, where we will learn even more about video games while programming our own games! 

In our next session of Advanced STEM Club, we will be learning how to program our own video games, but first let’s learn about what makes a good video game! Some games are so good they seem to have a magical quality that makes you want to play them over and over. Game designers call this playability. To make a game with great playability, you have to think about all of the parts that make up the game and how they work together. Some of those parts are:

  • Characters – In most games, the player uses an on-screen character to enter the game world; it could be an animal, a person, a race car, or even just a simple shape. To create a sense of danger or competition, such games usually also have enemy characters that the play has to defeat or escape from.

  • Mechanics – These are the “verbs” in a game; actions such as running, jumping, flying, capturing objects, casting spells, and using weapons. The mechanics are the core of the game and well-designed mechanics make a good game.

  • Objects – Nearly all games include objects, from coins and stars that boost scores or health to keys that unlock doors. Not all objects are good; some can get in a player’s way, sap their health, or steal their treasures. Objects can also work together to create puzzles for the player to solve.

  • Rules – The rules of a game tell you what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do. For example, can you walk through walls or do they block your path? Can you stop and think or do you have to beat the clock?

  • World – Think about the world in which the game is played. Is it 2D or 3D? Does the player view the game from above, from the side, or from within? Does the game world have walls or boundaries that limit the players movement or is it open like the outdoors?

  • Goals – Every game challenges players to achieve some kind of goal, whether it’s winning a race, conquering an enemy, beating a high-score, or simply surviving for as long as you can. Most games have lots of small goals, such as unlocking doors to new levels or winning new weapons or skills.

  • Controls – Keyboards, mice, joysticks, and motion sensors all make good controllers. Games are more fun when the player feels in complete control of the character, so the controls should be easy to master and the computer should respond instantly.

  • Difficulty Level – A game is no fun if it is too easy or too hard. Many games make the challenges easy at the start, while the player is learning, and more difficult later as the player’s skills improve. Getting the difficulty level just right is the key to making a great game.